Lamentations 3:37-5:22 Revised Standard Version

37  Who has commanded and it came to pass, unless the Lord has ordained it? 38  Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and evil come? 39  Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? 40  Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord! 41  Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven:

42  "We have transgressed and rebelled, and thou hast not forgiven. 43  "Thou hast wrapped thyself with anger and pursued us, slaying without pity; 44  thou hast wrapped thyself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through. 45  Thou hast made us offscouring and refuse among the peoples. 46  "All our enemies rail against us; 47  panic and pitfall have come upon us, devastation and destruction; 48  my eyes flow with rivers of tears because of the destruction of the daughter of my people. 49  "My eyes will flow without ceasing, without respite, 50  until the Lord from heaven looks down and sees; 51  my eyes cause me grief at the fate of all the maidens of my city. 52  "I have been hunted like a bird by those who were my enemies without cause; 53  they flung me alive into the pit and cast stones on me; 54  water closed over my head; I said, 'I am lost.'

55  "I called on thy name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; 56  thou didst hear my plea, 'Do not close thine ear to my cry for help!' 57  Thou didst come near when I called on thee; thou didst say, 'Do not fear!' 58  "Thou hast taken up my cause, O Lord, thou hast redeemed my life. 59  Thou hast seen the wrong done to me, O Lord; judge thou my cause. 60  Thou hast seen all their vengeance, all their devices against me. 61  "Thou hast heard their taunts, O Lord, all their devices against me. 62  The lips and thoughts of my assailants are against me all the day long. 63  Behold their sitting and their rising; I am the burden of their songs. 64  "Thou wilt requite them, O Lord, according to the work of their hands. 65  Thou wilt give them dullness of heart; thy curse will be on them. 66  Thou wilt pursue them in anger and destroy them from under thy heavens, O Lord."

The Punishment of Zion Accomplished

4 1  How the gold has grown dim, how the pure gold is changed! The holy stones lie scattered at the head of every street. 2  The precious sons of Zion, worth their weight in fine gold, how they are reckoned as earthen pots, the work of a potter's hands! 3  Even the jackals give the breast and suckle their young, but the daughter of my people has become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness. 4  The tongue of the nursling cleaves to the roof of its mouth for thirst; the children beg for food, but no one gives to them. 5  Those who feasted on dainties perish in the streets; those who were brought up in purple lie on ash heaps. 6  For the chastisement of the daughter of my people has been greater than the punishment of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, no hand being laid on it. 7  Her princes were purer than snow, whiter than milk; their bodies were more ruddy than coral, the beauty of their form was like sapphire. 8  Now their visage is blacker than soot, they are not recognized in the streets; their skin has shriveled upon their bones, it has become as dry as wood. 9  Happier were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, who pined away, stricken by want of the fruits of the field. 10  The hands of compassionate women have boiled their own children; they became their food in the destruction of the daughter of my people. 11  The Lord gave full vent to his wrath, he poured out his hot anger; and he kindled a fire in Zion, which consumed its foundations. 12  The kings of the earth did not believe, or any of the inhabitants of the world, that foe or enemy could enter the gates of Jerusalem.

13  This was for the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed in the midst of her the blood of the righteous. 14  They wandered, blind, through the streets, so defiled with blood that none could touch their garments. 15  "Away! Unclean!" men cried at them; "Away! Away! Touch not!" So they became fugitives and wanderers; men said among the nations, "They shall stay with us no longer." 16  The Lord himself has scattered them, he will regard them no more; no honor was shown to the priests, no favor to the elders. 17  Our eyes failed, ever watching vainly for help; in our watching we watched for a nation which could not save. 18  Men dogged our steps so that we could not walk in our streets; our end drew near; our days were numbered; for our end had come. 19  Our pursuers were swifter than the vultures in the heavens; they chased us on the mountains, they lay in wait for us in the wilderness. 20  The breath of our nostrils, the Lord's anointed, was taken in their pits, he of whom we said, "Under his shadow we shall live among the nations."

21  Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, dweller in the land of Uz; but to you also the cup shall pass; you shall become drunk and strip yourself bare. 22  The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter of Zion, is accomplished, he will keep you in exile no longer; but your iniquity, O daughter of Edom, he will punish, he will uncover your sins.

A Prayer for Mercy

5 1  Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us; behold, and see our disgrace! 2  Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our homes to aliens. 3  We have become orphans, fatherless; our mothers are like widows. 4  We must pay for the water we drink, the wood we get must be bought. 5  With a yoke on our necks we are hard driven; we are weary, we are given no rest. 6  We have given the hand to Egypt, and to Assyria, to get bread enough. 7  Our fathers sinned, and are no more; and we bear their iniquities. 8  Slaves rule over us; there is none to deliver us from their hand. 9  We get our bread at the peril of our lives, because of the sword in the wilderness. 10  Our skin is hot as an oven with the burning heat of famine. 11  Women are ravished in Zion, virgins in the towns of Judah. 12  Princes are hung up by their hands; no respect is shown to the elders. 13  Young men are compelled to grind at the mill; and boys stagger under loads of wood. 14  The old men have quit the city gate, the young men their music. 15  The joy of our hearts has ceased; our dancing has been turned to mourning. 16  The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned!

17  For this our heart has become sick, for these things our eyes have grown dim, 18  for Mount Zion which lies desolate; jackals prowl over it. 19  But thou, O Lord, dost reign for ever; thy throne endures to all generations. 20  Why dost thou forget us for ever, why dost thou so long forsake us? 21  Restore us to thyself, O Lord, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old! 22  Or hast thou utterly rejected us? Art thou exceedingly angry with us?

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