He has bent His bow like an enemy; His right hand is positioned. Like a foe He has killed all who were pleasing to the eye; He has poured out His wrath like fire on the tent of the Daughter of Zion.
Men have fallen into two opposite extremes of opinion and of feeling with regard to the anger of the Lord. There have been times when they have been wont to attribute to the Eternal the passions of imperfect men, when they have represented the holy God as moved by the storms of indignation, as subject to the impulses of caprice and the instigations of cruelty. But in our own days the tendency is the contrary to this; men picture God as all amiability and forbearance, as regarding the sinful and guilty with indifference, or at all events without any emotion of displeasure. Scripture warrants neither of these extremes.
I. THERE ARE OCCASIONS WHEN GOD IS ANGRY WITH EVEN THE OBJECTS OF HIS SPECIAL FAVOUR. Jerusalem was the "daughter of Zion;" the temple was "the beauty of Israel;" the ark was God's "footstool." But as even human love is not necessarily or justly blind to the faults of those beloved, so the Lord is displeased with those whom he has endowed with peculiar privileges and blessings, when they are unmindful of his mercies and disobedient to his laws. "As many as I love," says the Divine Head of the Church, "I rebuke and chasten."
II. FROM THE HEARTS OF THE DISOBEDIENT GOD HIDES HIMSELF AS IN A CLOUD. When the sun is concealed behind a cloud, nature is chill, dull, and gloomy. The Lord is the Sun in whose light his. people find joy and peace; when he hides his face they are troubled, for no longer is it the case that they look unto him and are lightened. The heart and conscience of those who have offended God are overcast with spiritual gloom and unhappiness. So Israel found it; and there are none who have known the blessedness of God's fellowship and favour who can bear without distress the withdrawal of the heavenly light.
III. UPON THE HEADS OF THE REBELLIOUS GOD HURLS THE BOLT OF HIS DISPLEASURE. The tempest long lowered over the doomed city; at last it broke in fury, and Jerusalem became a prey to the spoiler and was cast down to the ground. The prophet clearly saw, what in an age of ease and luxury men are prone to forget, that there is a righteous Ruler from whose authority and retributive power no state and no soul can escape. "God is angry with the wicked every day" Yet in the midst of wrath he remembers mercy, and the penalties he inflicts answer their purpose if they lead to submission and to sincere repentance. - T.
He hath bent His bow like an enemy.
If God is tormenting His people in fierce anger, it must be because He is their enemy — so the sad-hearted patriot reasons. First, we have the earthly side of the process. The daughter of Zion is covered with a cloud — a metaphor more striking in the brilliant East than in our habitually sombre climate. There it would suggest unwonted gloom — the loss of the customary light of heaven, rare distress, and excessive melancholy. But there is more than gloom. A mere cloud may lift, and discover everything unaltered by the passing shadow. The distress that has fallen on Jerusalem is not thus superficial and transient. She herself has suffered a fatal fall. The Language is now varied; instead of "the daughter of Zion" we have "the beauty of Israel." The use of the larger title, Israel, is not a little significant. It shows that the elegist is alive to the idea of the fundamental unity of his race, a unity which could not be destroyed by centuries of intertribal warfare. It has been suggested with probability that by the expression "the beauty of Israel" the elegist intended to indicate the temple. This magnificent pile of buildings, crowning one of the hills of Jerusalem, and shining with gold in "barbaric splendour," was the central object of beauty among all the people who revered the worship it enshrined. Its situation would naturally suggest the language here employed. Still keeping in mind the temple, the poet tells us that God has forgotten His footstool. He seems to be thinking of the mercy seat over the ark, the spot at which God was thought to show Himself propitious to Israel on the great day of atonement, and which was looked upon as the very centre of the Divine presence. No miracle intervenes to punish the heathen for their sacrilege. Yes, surely God must have forgotten His footstool! So it seems to the sorrowful Jew, perplexed at the impunity with which this crime has been committed. But the mischief is not confined to the central shrine. It has extended to remote country regions and simple rustic folk. The shepherd's hut has shared the fate of the temple of the Lord. All the habitations of Jacob — a phrase which in the original points to country cottages — have been swallowed up. The holiest is not spared on account of its sanctity, neither is the lowliest on account of its obscurity. The calamity extends to all districts, to all things, to all classes. If the shepherd's cot is contrasted with the temple and the ark because of its simplicity, the fortress may be contrasted with this defenceless hut because of its strength. Yet even the strongholds have been thrown down. More than this, the action of the Jews' army has been paralysed by the God who had been its strength and support in the glorious olden time. It is as though the right hand of the warrior had been seized from behind and drawn back at the moment when it was raised to strike a blow for deliverance. The consequence is that the flower of the army, "all that were pleasant to the eye," are slain. Israel herself is swallowed up, while her palaces and fortresses are demolished. The climax of this mystery of Divine destruction is reached when God destroys His own temple. The elegist returns to the dreadful subject as though fascinated by the terror of it. According to the strict translation of the original, God is mid to have violently taken away His tabernacle "as a garden." At the siege of a city the fruit gardens that encircle it are the first victims of the destroyer's axe. Lying out beyond the walls they are entirely unprotected, while the impediments they offer to the movements of troops and instruments of war induce the commander to order their early demolition. Thus Titus had the trees cleared from the Mount of Olives, so that one of the first incidents in the Roman siege of Jerusalem must have been the destruction of the Garden of Gethsemane. Now the poet compares the ease with which the great, massive temple — itself a powerful fortress, and enclosed within the city wails — was demolished, with the simple process of scouring the outlying gardens. The deeper thought that God rejects His sanctuary because His people have first rejected Him is not brought forward just now. Yet this solution of the mystery is prepared by a contemplation of the utter failure of the old ritual of atonement. Evidently that is not always effective, for here it has broken down entirely; then can it ever be inherently efficacious? It cannot be enough to trust to a sanctuary and ceremonies which God Himself destroys. The first thing to be noticed in this unhestitating ascription to God of positive enmity is the striking evidence it contains of faith in the Divine power, presence, and activity. The victorious army of the Babylonians filled the field as completely in the old time as that of the Germans in the modern event. Yet the poet simply ignores its existence. He passes it with sublime indifference, his mind filled with the thought of the unseen Power behind. He knows that the action of the true God is supreme in everything that happens, whether the event be favourable or unfavourable to His people. Perhaps it is only owing to the dreary materialism of current thought that we should be less likely to discover an indication of the enmity of God in some huge national calamity. Still, although this idea of the elegist is a fruit of his unshaken faith in the universal sway of God, it startles and shocks us, and we shrink from it almost as though it contained some blasphemous suggestion. Is the elegist only expressing his own feelings? Have we a right to affirm that there can be no objective truth in the awful idea of the enmity of God? In the first place, we have no warrant for asserting that God will never act in direct and intentional opposition to any of His creatures. There is one obvious occasion when He certainly does this. The man who resists the laws of nature finds those laws working against him. The laws of nature are, as Kingsley said, but the ways of God. If they are opposing a man, God is opposing that man. But God does not confine His action to the realm of physical processes. His providence works through the whole course of events in the world's history. What we see evidently operating in nature we may infer to be equally active in less visible regions. Then, if we believe in a God who rules and works in the world, we cannot suppose that His activity is confined to aiding what is good. It is unreasonable to imagine that He stands aside in passive negligence of evil. And if He concerns Himself to thwart evil, what is this but manifesting Himself as the enemy of the evil-doer? It may be contended, on the other side, that there is a world of difference between antagonistic actions and unfriendly feelings, and that the former by no means imply the latter. Still, for the time being, the opposition is a reality, and a reality which to all intents and purposes is one of enmity, since it resists, frustrates, hurts. Nor is this all. We have no reason to deny that God can have real anger. We must believe that Jesus Christ was as truly revealing the Father when He was moved with indignation as when He was moved with compassion. His mission was a war against all evil, and therefore, though not waged with carnal weapons, a war against evil men. The Jewish authorities were perfectly right in perceiving this fact. They persecuted Him as their enemy; and He was their enemy. This statement is no contradiction to the gracious truth that He desired to save all men, and therefore even these men. If God's enmity to any soul were eternal, it would conflict with His love. But if He is at the present time actively opposing a man, and if He is doing this in anger, in the wrath of righteousness against sin, it is only quibbling with words to deny that for the time being He is a very real enemy to that man.
Where God is angry, there is nothing to be looked for but destruction and ill success in all things.
2. God punisheth sin in His children in this world as severely as ii they were reprobates.(1) To declare that He is not partial, but hateth sin in those whom He most of all loveth.(2) That it may appear what great wrath remaineth for the ungodly (1 Peter 4:17).
3. Though God show all outward signs of enmity against His Church, yet is His love everlasting thereunto.
4. God's anger is never in vain, but effecteth punishment upon them with whom He is angry.
5. God regardeth not the most precious things that are amongst the sons of men, in respect of declaring His justice against sin.
The Lord was as an enemyI. This oft repeating of one thing teacheth that it is hard to persuade God's people rightly to judge of and he afflicted with the afflictions that are upon them.(1) The ways of God are high beyond the reach of the sons of men.(2) We axe naturally of a blind and dull disposition, with much ado brought unto any good thing.
2. God hath no need of any people, but all have need of Him.
3. God will increase His plagues upon His children, where sin without repentance is increased.
4. God giveth many causes of sorrow when He punisheth His people.(1) He giveth a token that He is displeased, which is cause of greatest grief unto His children.(2) His punishments do usually cross our affections in the things that they are much set upon.
(a)Labour with ourselves that we may be affected with the crosses that are upon us.
(b)Seek to Him alone for succour in the time of our sorrow.
TopicsAdversary, Attack, Bent, Bow, Daughter, Death, Desirable, Enemy, Eye, Fire, Foe, Fury, Hate, Killed, Loose, Ones, Passion, Pleasant, Pleasing, Poured, Pride, Ready, Slain, Slayeth, Slew, Standing, Stood, Strung, Tabernacle, Tent, Trodden, Wrath, Zion
Outline1. Jeremiah laments the misery of Jerusalem
20. He complains thereof to God
Dictionary of Bible ThemesLamentations 2:4
5236 bow and arrow
1025 God, anger of
8722 doubt, nature of
1270 right hand of God
"Ye virgin souls, arise! With all the dead awake; Unto salvation wise; Oil in your vessels take: Upstarting at the MIDNIGHT CRY, Behold Your heavenly bridegroom nigh." Two brethren then offered prayer for the Church and the World, that the new year might be clothed with glory by the spread of the knowledge of Jesus.--Then followed the EXPOSITION Psalm 90:1-22 "Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Yea Jehovah, WE, they children, can say that thou hast been our home, our safe …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 2: 1856
Chel. The Court of the Women.
The Court of the Gentiles compassed the Temple and the courts on every side. The same also did Chel, or the Ante-murale. "That space was ten cubits broad, divided from the Court of the Gentiles by a fence, ten hand-breadths high; in which were thirteen breaches, which the kings of Greece had made: but the Jews had again repaired them, and had appointed thirteen adorations answering to them." Maimonides writes: "Inwards" (from the Court of the Gentiles) "was a fence, that encompassed on every side, …
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica
Appendix ix. List of Old Testament Passages Messianically Applied in Ancient Rabbinic Writings
THE following list contains the passages in the Old Testament applied to the Messiah or to Messianic times in the most ancient Jewish writings. They amount in all to 456, thus distributed: 75 from the Pentateuch, 243 from the Prophets, and 138 from the Hagiorgrapha, and supported by more than 558 separate quotations from Rabbinic writings. Despite all labour care, it can scarcely be hoped that the list is quite complete, although, it is hoped, no important passage has been omitted. The Rabbinic references …
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
Departure from Ireland. Death and Burial at Clairvaux.
[Sidenote: 1148, May (?)] 67. (30). Being asked once, in what place, if a choice were given him, he would prefer to spend his last day--for on this subject the brothers used to ask one another what place each would select for himself--he hesitated, and made no reply. But when they insisted, he said, "If I take my departure hence I shall do so nowhere more gladly than whence I may rise together with our Apostle"--he referred to St. Patrick; "but if it behoves me to make a pilgrimage, and …
H. J. Lawlor—St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh
That the Ruler Should be Discreet in Keeping Silence, Profitable in Speech.
The ruler should be discreet in keeping silence, profitable in speech; lest he either utter what ought to be suppressed or suppress what he ought to utter. For, as incautious speaking leads into error, so indiscreet silence leaves in error those who might have been instructed. For often improvident rulers, fearing to lose human favour, shrink timidly from speaking freely the things that are right; and, according to the voice of the Truth (Joh. x. 12), serve unto the custody of the flock by no means …
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great
Lii. Concerning Hypocrisy, Worldly Anxiety, Watchfulness, and his Approaching Passion.
(Galilee.) ^C Luke XII. 1-59. ^c 1 In the meantime [that is, while these things were occurring in the Pharisee's house], when the many thousands of the multitude were gathered together, insomuch that they trod one upon another [in their eagerness to get near enough to Jesus to see and hear] , he began to say unto his disciples first of all [that is, as the first or most appropriate lesson], Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. [This admonition is the key to the understanding …
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel
The book familiarly known as the Lamentations consists of four elegies (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 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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