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The Old Testament | The Books of the Major Prophets


Things to know

Where does the book begin?

The book begins after the army of Babylon destroyed Jerusalem.

Places to go

Jerusalem was alone
Lamentations 1:1-8

Is God our enemy?
Lamentations 2:1-7

God is faithful*
Lamentations 3:22-33

The writer cried for help
Lamentations 3:52-66

Restore us, O Lord*
Lamentations 5:15-22

Where does the book end?

The book ends before the people returned to their home in Judah.

People to know

In Lamentations you will hear the words of the sad people of Judah. You will also meet God in these songs.

The Story of Lamentations

Lamentations may be the saddest book in the Bible. It is a group of songs. They are the kind of songs people sang when someone died. There are five songs like this in the book. Most people think Jeremiah wrote them. If he did, he wrote these songs to show how sad he was when Judah was destroyed. He also wrote to give words so other people who were sad could use them too. He did not want anyone to forget what happened in Judah. These songs would become a part of the way people would remember.

Jeremiah saw many terrible events. And he knew why these things happened. Jerusalem had not obeyed God’s law. The people prayed to evil* gods. And the people acted in bad ways. God sent his servants to warn the people. But the people did not listen. They did not change. So, God punished them. [1]

The book begins by telling about Jerusalem as it lay in ruins. The army of Babylon destroyed it. Like a neglected widow, the city wept in the night. There was no one to comfort her. There was nothing to eat. All her gates were broken. Her priests cried. The kings had been taken away. And she had become the slave of her enemies.

Things were so bad that it seemed God was their enemy. He had destroyed Judah. When the writer thought about this, he seemed to lose all hope*.

But even as he sang the sad songs, all hope* was not lost. He remembered that there was still one last source of comfort. God is a God of loyal love. He is faithful*. He keeps his promises. He never runs out of kindness. So Judah could sing even when she felt despair. Even when she was far away from the land, she could have hope. ‘Great is your faithfulness*‘. With his hope* came a new call to put faith* in the Lord*. There was also a call to repent*. God would some day bring them home. He would some day give them a new king from the family of David.

Some of these songs asked God to pay back the enemies of Judah for the evil* they had done. Because Babylon destroyed Judah, the song asked God to destroy them.

‘You have seen, O LORD, the wrong done to me. Uphold my cause!; Pay them back what they deserve, O LORD for what their hands have done; Pursue them in anger and destroy them from under the heavens of the LORD.’ [2]

But parts of the songs are about hope*. Even if the songs are sad, the people who sang them knew that they would return to the land that God promised them. [3]

God would not desert them. The Lord* would keep his promises to Abraham and David. That was why they had hope*. They were not faithful*. But God is faithful*. [4] God would not leave them in Babylon. Judah would not be punished for ever. If they waited with patience, the Lord* would save them. That is how the book ends. Judah would not sing sad songs for ever. Some day, God would bless them again.

‘Lord, please bring us back to you.
Then we can return.
Make our lives like new again.’

Jeremiah’s name is not in the book. But he said many of these same things in his other book. God is angry when people sin*. He will be like an enemy to those who do not obey. But he is also a God of mercy. He would not let Judah’s enemies get away. God would punish them for what they did.


[1] 2 Chronicles 36:14-17

[2] Lamentations 3:64-66

[3] Lamentations 4:22

[4] Lamentations 3:21-24

[5] Lamentations 5:21

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