Lamentations 1:18

In nothing is the distinction more marked between religions of human origin and device and the religion which is the revelation of infinite Wisdom and Truth, than in the views they respectively afford of the moral character and attributes of Deity. Whilst the heathen freely attribute to their gods qualities which are detestable in man, the Scriptures represent the Supreme as perfectly righteous. The acknowledgment here made by Jeremiah was made by Moses, by Nehemiah, by Daniel, and indeed is virtually, if not verbally, made by the writer of every book of the Old Testament. And the new covenant is based upon the revelation of a righteous Ruler and Father.

I. GOD IS RIGHTEOUS IN HIS CHARACTER. It is certainly no progress, but a retrogression towards ignorance and barbarism, to represent the supreme Intelligence as destitute of moral attributes, exercised in the fulfilment of wise and benevolent purposes. Affliction and anguish sometimes obscure men's judgment of the character and the dealings of God. It was not so with Jeremiah, who, in lamenting the troubles of his nation and of himself, did not distort the representation he gave to his countrymen of the attributes of the Most High.

II. GOD IS RIGHTEOUS IN HIS LAW. The theocratic government of the Hebrews was based upon the just character and the holy Law of the eternal King. To some minds the reflection might have seemed inappropriate and unwelcome in the depth of disaster. But a true prophet, a true religious teacher, feels bound to set forth the fact that the rule under which men live as individuals and as communities is a righteous rule; the justice of the Law abides although that Law be broken, and although its penalties be incurred and endured.

III. GOD IS RIGHTEOUS IN HIS RETRIBUTION. This is probably the thought most prominent in the text. The fate of Jerusalem was a hard fate, a lamentable fate, but it was not an unjust fate. The people reaped as they had sown. An onlooker might readily have acknowledged this, but it was a merit in a sufferer so to do. For the chastened to confess the justice of their chastisement is a proof that already the chastening is not in vain. - T.

The Lord is righteous; for I have rebelled.
When we see God in our punishments, we begin to take a right view of them; when they are nothing to us but self-humiliations or signs of contempt, they embitter us and harden our hearts; but when we see God at work in the very desolation of our fortunes, we axe sure that He has a reason for thus scourging us, and that if we accept the penalty, and bow down before His majesty, we shall be lifted up by His mighty hand. Zion says that the Lord hath made her strength to fail, the Lord hath trodden under foot all her mighty men, the Lord hath trodden the virgin, the daughter of Judah, as in a winepress. But Zion does not accept these results with a hard heart; no: rather she says, "For these things I weep," etc. Whatever brings us to this softness of heart is a helper to the soul in all upward and Divine directions. Zion confesses the righteousness of the Lord. In proportion as we can recognise the justice of our punishment, may we bear that punishment with some dignity. It has been pointed out that with this beginning of conversion the name of the Lord, or Jehovah, reappears. The people whom God has punished on account of their sins have, in the result, been enabled to recognise the justice of their punishment. Of this we have an example in the Book of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9:33, 34). In the case of the Captivity, we see the extreme rigour of the law in the expression, "My virgins and my young men," etc.: the most honoured and the most beautiful have perished of hunger, as it were, in the open streets. How impartial and tremendous are the judgments of God! May not virgins be spared? May not His priests be exempted from the operation of the law of judgment? Will not an official robe protect a soul against the lightning of Divine wrath? All history answers No; all experience testifies to the contrary, and thereby re-establishes and infinitely confirms our confidence in the living God.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

1. God's people do acknowledge His justice in all His works, yea, even in His punishments laid upon them.(1) His Word and Spirit hath reformed their judgments, teaching them how to think of His holy majesty in all things.(2) The consciousness of their own sins causeth them to justify the Lord, and to accuse themselves.

2. It is the duty of God's children to seek the cause of all their evils in themselves.(1) God is righteous, and layeth nothing upon them but what they justly deserve.(2) They know their own manifold sins, and their exceeding weakness in well-doing, which they cannot see in any others.

3. Though God punish us oft for other causes, yet the matter that He worketh upon is our sins.

4. We must not lessen our sins, but account them most heinous in our own eyes.

5. It is our duty (especially in religion) neither to go further nor to come shorter than God's revealed will; but attend unto it as the servant's eye doth unto his master's hand (Psalm 123:2).

6. It is rebellion against the Lord Himself to be disobedient unto the voice of His ministers teaching His truth (Luke 10:16).

7. We are constrained in our adversity to acknowledge God's hand in those things which in our prosperity we neglected.

8. When God's people are punished, they are not ashamed but willing to tell all men of it, and to declare their sins to be the cause of it.(1) Above all things they desire to have the Lord justified in all men's judgments.(2) They desire that their own example may teach others to serve God better.

9. The manifesting of our punishments unto the world as from God's hand because of our sins can neither dishonour the Lord nor harden others in their wickedness, but is a just occasion of the contrary.

(J. Udall.)

The cure token of Judah's and Israel's repentance shall be when, accepting the punishment of their iniquity as their just due, they shall justify God. It is the most hopeful sign in any sinner, when the Holy Spirit applying inwardly the lesson taught by outward distresses, teaches him to cry, "The Lord is righteous; for I have rebelled against His commandments."

(A. R. Fausset, M. A.)

Jacob, Jeremiah
Jerusalem, Zion
Behold, Captivity, Command, Commandment, Ear, Exile, Listen, Maidens, Mouth, Orders, Pain, Peoples, Please, Prisoners, Provoked, Rebelled, Righteous, Sorrow, Suffering, Upright, Virgins, Yet
1. The miseries of Jerusalem and of the Jews lamented
12. The attention of beholders demanded to this unprecedented case
18. The justice of God acknowledged, and his mercy supplicated.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Lamentations 1:18

     1125   God, righteousness
     6222   rebellion, against God
     8404   commands, in OT

No Sorrow Like Messiah's Sorrow
Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold, and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow! A lthough the Scriptures of the Old Testament, the law of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophecies (Luke 24:44) , bear an harmonious testimony to MESSIAH ; it is not necessary to suppose that every single passage has an immediate and direct relation to Him. A method of exposition has frequently obtained [frequently been in vogue], of a fanciful and allegorical cast [contrivance], under the pretext
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

Epistle vi. To Narses, Patrician .
To Narses, Patrician [1305] . Gregory to Narses, &c. In describing loftily the sweetness of contemplation, you have renewed the groans of my fallen state, since I hear what I have lost inwardly while mounting outwardly, though undeserving, to the topmost height of rule. Know then that I am stricken with so great sorrow that I can scarcely speak; for the dark shades of grief block up the eyes of my soul. Whatever is beheld is sad, whatever is thought delightful appears to my heart lamentable. For
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great

"Come unto Me, all Ye that Labour, and are Wearied," &C.
Matth. xi. 28.--"Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are wearied," &c. It is the great misery of Christians in this life, that they have such poor, narrow, and limited spirits, that are not fit to receive the truth of the gospel in its full comprehension; from whence manifold misapprehensions in judgment, and stumbling in practice proceed. The beauty and life of things consist in their entire union with one another, and in the conjunction of all their parts. Therefore it would not be a fit way
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

Meditations for one that is Like to Die.
If thy sickness be like to increase unto death, then meditate on three things:--First, How graciously God dealeth with thee. Secondly, From what evils death will free thee. Thirdly, What good death will bring unto thee. The first sort of Meditations are, to consider God's favourable dealing with thee. 1. Meditate that God uses this chastisement of thy body but as a medicine to cure thy soul, by drawing thee, who art sick in sin, to come by repentance unto Christ, thy physician, to have thy soul healed
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

Concerning the Sacrament of Baptism
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to the riches of His mercy has at least preserved this one sacrament in His Church uninjured and uncontaminated by the devices of men, and has made it free to all nations and to men of every class. He has not suffered it to be overwhelmed with the foul and impious monstrosities of avarice and superstition; doubtless having this purpose, that He would have little children, incapable of avarice and superstition, to be initiated into
Martin Luther—First Principles of the Reformation

The book familiarly known as the Lamentations consists of four elegies[1] (i., ii., iii., iv.) and a prayer (v.). The general theme of the elegies is the sorrow and desolation created by the destruction of Jerusalem[2] in 586 B.C.: the last poem (v.) is a prayer for deliverance from the long continued distress. The elegies are all alphabetic, and like most alphabetic poems (cf. Ps. cxix.) are marked by little continuity of thought. The first poem is a lament over Jerusalem, bereft, by the siege,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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