Lamentations 1:4
The roads to Zion mourn, because no one comes to her appointed feasts. All her gates are deserted; her priests groan, her maidens grieve, and she herself is bitter with anguish.
Religious DesolationJ. Parker, D. D.Lamentations 1:4
The Decay of Religion MournfulJ. Udall.Lamentations 1:4
The Decline of National ReligionJ.R. Thomson Lamentations 1:4
Zion Forsaken as a Religious CentreD. Young Lamentations 1:4

Nowhere has the great truth of the close dependence of national prosperity upon national religion been more plainly and emphatically taught than in the writings of the Hebrew prophets. Their spiritual insight detected the true cause of national degradation. Whoever looks below the surface may see that the decline and fall of nations may usually be traced to spiritual causes, to the loss of any hold upon eternal principles of righteousness and piety.

I. THE OPEN SYMPTOMS OF THE DECLINE OF A NATION'S RELIGION. Those here mentioned are in circumstances and colour local and temporary; they were determined, as a matter of course, by what was peculiar to the religion of the country and of the day.

1. The roads of Zion are forsaken. There is no concourse upon the roads leading up to the metropolis, as was the case in the days of Judah's prosperity.

2. The gates are deserted and unentered. There was a time when the busy population passed to and fro, when the people gathered together at the gates to discuss the news of the day, the affairs of the city, when the royal processions passed in splendour through the gates leading to the country. It is now so no longer.

3. The festivals are unfrequented. Formerly, when the great and sacred national feasts were being held, multitudes of Israelites attended these holy and welcome assemblies to share in the pious mirth, the cheering reminiscences, the fraternal fellowship, distinctive of such solemn and joyous occasions. But now there are none to celebrate the mercies of Jehovah, none to fulfil the sacred rites. To the religious heart the change is not only afflicting, it is crushing.

4. The ministers of religion are left to mourn. The priests who are left, if permitted to fulfil their office, do so under the most depressing influences; and no longer are there virgins to rejoice in the dance. The picture is painted in the darkest, saddest colours. We feel, as we enter into the prophet's lamentations, how dreary and hopeless is the state of that nation which God gives over to its foes.

II. THE CAUSE OF THE DECLINE OF A NATION'S RELIGION. This ever begins in spiritual unfaithfulness and defections. The external observances of religion may be kept up for a season, but this may be only from custom and tradition. The body does not at once decay when the spirit has forsaken it. To forget God, to deny his Word, to break his laws, to forsake his mercy seat, - such are the steps by which a nation's decline is most surely commenced, by which a nation's ruin is most surely anticipated.


1. Confession.

2. Repentance.

3. Prayer for pardon and acceptance.

4. Resolution to obey the Lord, and again to reverence what is holy and to do what is right.

5. The union of all classes, rulers and subjects, priests and people, old and young, in a national reformation. - T.

The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts.
1. The overthrow of the commonwealth bringeth with it the overthrow of the Church's outward peace.

2. When the things that God hath given us here are not applied to the appointed use, we have just cause to mourn, seeing our sins have caused the let thereof (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Isaiah 13:19, etc.).

3. The earth and earthly things do often admonish men of their sins, either by denying that comfort which naturally they bring with them (Leviticus 18:25), or bringing grief or punishment with them (Micah 2:10).(1) God hath made all His creatures as written books, wherein man may read his sins.(2) That man may have no show of excuse left him at that great day of account.

4. All God's creatures mourn when God is disobeyed, and rejoice when He is obeyed by His people.

5. The service of God is not tied to any place, but upon condition of their obedience that dwell therein (Jeremiah 26:4).

6. It is a great grief to God's ministers to be deprived of their ministry or to see it unprofitable to the Church.(1) God is greatly dishonoured thereby.(2) It giveth occasion of interrupting all good things among the people, and matter of all kinds of sin.

7. The ministers must be guides to the people, to lead them to mourning (when there is cause), as also to all other duties.

8. They that seem most exempt from it must mourn at the decay of religion.(1) This reproves them that lay not to heart the distress of God's people for the truth, thinking it sufficient that themselves live in safety.(2) It teaches us to strive to be grieved when we hear of the decay of true religion in any place, though it be safe where we are.

9. The greatest loss that can befall God's people is the loss of the exercise of the Word and Sacraments. Because God hath appointed them to be the means of begetting and confirming faith in us.

(J. Udall.)

All her gates are desolate.
A pathetic picture indeed is this, that the feast is spread and no man comes to the banqueting table; every gate is open in token of welcome and hospitality, yet no wandering soul asks for admittance; the priests once so noble in the service of song, the virgins once so beautiful as images of innocence, now stand with hands thrown down, with eyes full of tears, with hearts sighing in expressive silence their bitterness and disappointment. All this can God do even to His chosen place, and to altars on which He has written His name. Officialism is no guarantee of spiritual perpetuity. Pomp and ceremony, with all their mechanical and external decorations and attractions, are no pledge of the presence of the Spirit of the Living God. The sanctuary is nothing but for the Lord's presence. Eloquent preaching is but eloquent noise if the Spirit of the Lord be not in it, giving it intellectual value, spiritual dignity, and practical usefulness. Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord; because men have forgotten this doctrine, they have trusted to themselves and have seen their hopes perishing in complete and bitter disappointment.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Jacob, Jeremiah
Jerusalem, Zion
Afflicted, Anguish, Appointed, Assembly, Bitter, Bitterly, Bitterness, Breathing, Desolate, Doorways, Dragged, Feasts, Gates, Gateways, Grief, Grieve, Groan, Groaning, Herself, Holy, Maidens, Meeting, Mourn, Mourning, None, Priests, Roads, Sad, Sigh, Solemn, Sorrow, Suffers, Troubled, Virgins, Waste, Zion
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 1:4

     5442   pilgrimage
     5505   roads
     5799   bitterness

Lamentations 1:4-5

     5970   unhappiness

Lamentations 1:4-8

     7270   Zion, as a place

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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