Passage: Lamentations 3, 4, 5 (RSV)

Lamentations 3

1I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath;
2he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light;
3surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long.
4He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones;
5he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation;
6he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago.
7He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me;
8though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer;
9he has blocked my ways with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked.
10He is to me like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding;
11he led me off my way and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate;
12he bent his bow and set me as a mark for his arrow.
13He drove into my heart the arrows of his quiver;
14I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the burden of their songs all day long.
15He has filled me with bitterness, he has sated me with wormwood.
16He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes;
17my soul is bereft of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is;
18so I say, "Gone is my glory, and my expectation from the LORD."
19Remember my affliction and my bitterness, the wormwood and the gall!
20My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.
21But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
22The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;
23they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.
24"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."
25The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.
26It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
27It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
28Let him sit alone in silence when he has laid it on him;
29let him put his mouth in the dust -- there may yet be hope;
30let him give his cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults.
31For the Lord will not cast off for ever,
32but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men.
34To crush under foot all the prisoners of the earth,
35to turn aside the right of a man in the presence of the Most High,
36to subvert a man in his cause, the Lord does not approve.
37Who has commanded and it came to pass, unless the Lord has ordained it?
38Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and evil come?
39Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins?
40Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!
41Let 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;
44thou hast wrapped thyself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through.
45Thou hast made us offscouring and refuse among the peoples.
46"All our enemies rail against us;
47panic and pitfall have come upon us, devastation and destruction;
48my 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,
50until the LORD from heaven looks down and sees;
51my 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;
53they flung me alive into the pit and cast stones on me;
54water closed over my head; I said, `I am lost.'
55"I called on thy name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit;
56thou didst hear my plea, `Do not close thine ear to my cry for help!'
57Thou 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.
59Thou hast seen the wrong done to me, O LORD; judge thou my cause.
60Thou hast seen all their vengeance, all their devices against me.
61"Thou hast heard their taunts, O LORD, all their devices against me.
62The lips and thoughts of my assailants are against me all the day long.
63Behold 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.
65Thou wilt give them dullness of heart; thy curse will be on them.
66Thou wilt pursue them in anger and destroy them from under thy heavens, O LORD."

Lamentations 4

1How the gold has grown dim, how the pure gold is changed! The holy stones lie scattered at the head of every street.
2The precious sons of Zion, worth their weight in fine gold, how they are reckoned as earthen pots, the work of a potter's hands!
3Even the jackals give the breast and suckle their young, but the daughter of my people has become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.
4The tongue of the nursling cleaves to the roof of its mouth for thirst; the children beg for food, but no one gives to them.
5Those who feasted on dainties perish in the streets; those who were brought up in purple lie on ash heaps.
6For 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.
7Her princes were purer than snow, whiter than milk; their bodies were more ruddy than coral, the beauty of their form was like sapphire.
8Now 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.
9Happier were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, who pined away, stricken by want of the fruits of the field.
10The hands of compassionate women have boiled their own children; they became their food in the destruction of the daughter of my people.
11The LORD gave full vent to his wrath, he poured out his hot anger; and he kindled a fire in Zion, which consumed its foundations.
12The 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.
13This 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.
14They 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."
16The LORD himself has scattered them, he will regard them no more; no honor was shown to the priests, no favor to the elders.
17Our eyes failed, ever watching vainly for help; in our watching we watched for a nation which could not save.
18Men 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.
19Our pursuers were swifter than the vultures in the heavens; they chased us on the mountains, they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
20The 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."
21Rejoice 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.
22The 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.

Lamentations 5

1Remember, O LORD, what has befallen us; behold, and see our disgrace!
2Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our homes to aliens.
3We have become orphans, fatherless; our mothers are like widows.
4We must pay for the water we drink, the wood we get must be bought.
5With a yoke on our necks we are hard driven; we are weary, we are given no rest.
6We have given the hand to Egypt, and to Assyria, to get bread enough.
7Our fathers sinned, and are no more; and we bear their iniquities.
8Slaves rule over us; there is none to deliver us from their hand.
9We get our bread at the peril of our lives, because of the sword in the wilderness.
10Our skin is hot as an oven with the burning heat of famine.
11Women are ravished in Zion, virgins in the towns of Judah.
12Princes are hung up by their hands; no respect is shown to the elders.
13Young men are compelled to grind at the mill; and boys stagger under loads of wood.
14The old men have quit the city gate, the young men their music.
15The joy of our hearts has ceased; our dancing has been turned to mourning.
16The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned!
17For this our heart has become sick, for these things our eyes have grown dim,
18for Mount Zion which lies desolate; jackals prowl over it.
19But thou, O LORD, dost reign for ever; thy throne endures to all generations.
20Why dost thou forget us for ever, why dost thou so long forsake us?
21Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old!
22Or hast thou utterly rejected us? Art thou exceedingly angry with us?

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