Those slain by the sword are better off than those who die of hunger, who waste away, pierced with pain because the fields lack produce.
I. WORSE THINGS THAN WAR. Better, says the prophet, to be swiftly slain in battle than have the slow and gnawing death of hunger. None worthy the name of Christian can but appreciate and admire the zeal, devotion, and self-abnegation of those who toil incessantly in the things that make for peace. War is so dreadful an evil that hardly too strong things can be said against it. And one of the strong things said is with respect to the immense suffering produced by war. Yet after all there is a great deal that deceives imagination here. Suffering is crowded into a small space, and puts on a horrible aspect, and thus it looks huger than it is, and so when we are appalled at the continuance in the world of great wars full of carnage, we shall do well to recollect that war is by no means the worst of things so far as power of inflicting suffering is concerned. Evidently the prophet saw starvation as a more horrible thing than war. It may, of course, be said the war was the cause of the famine, and very likely it was, but then, what was the cause of the war? Good men in their enthusiasm come in with all sorts of ready remedies for great evils, not sufficiently considering how one evil is connected with another, and how the stopping up of one channel may only fill other channels all the more. Who can dry up the fountain of all evil? - that is the question.
II. THE DREADFUL ACCOMPANIMENTS OF FAMINE. IS there anything worse than the carnage of a battlefield? Yes; the pangs of a multitude slowly dying of starvation, There is death from disease, death from decay, death of the strong man in full health from violence; but worse than any surely is this slow torment of hunger. What an instance of the rigid way in which law binds us down, unless there be some Divine reason for interfering with the operations perceptible to us! He who intervened to feed the five thousand and the four thousand could have intervened to keep these wretched women from laying their hands on their own children for food. What necessity was there in the one case which there was not in the other? Some there must have been, though we may fail to grasp it as a whole. Doubtless if we could only see clearly it would then become manifest that there is no lack in the giving of food, but that it is we who lack wisdom in developing and distributing what is given. - Y.
Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom.1. The godly must take it patiently that the wicked do triumph and rejoice over them, when God doth humble them by afflictions.(1) Because they know it to be the Lord's doing.(2) They know that the wicked do but according to their nature.(3) They are assured that God will look upon it in its due time, to deliver them, and punish their enemies.
2. Of all the adversaries that God's people have, those are the cruelest that in outward respects are the nearest to them.(1) Because they know best their corruptions for which they are afflicted, and the ways to do them most harm.(2) That God may make the rod the heavier, to make them the more earnestly seek unto Him.
3. Whatsoever afflictions the Lord layeth on His people in this life, the wicked shall be punished therewith in their time.(1) God's justice cannot let them escape unpunished.(2) Judgment doth begin at the house of God.
4. Though the Lord spare His enemies, till He hath corrected His servants, yet will He overthrow them with a large measure of His judgments in His due time.
5. The wicked, when God layeth His punishing hand upon them, do most notoriously manifest the heinousness of their sins.(1) They have no grace to take it patiently, but do rage at it.(2) God's hand is never upon them for their comfort, but to crush and confound them.
The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of ZionI. OUR FIRST MESSAGE IS ONE OF COMFORT. "The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; He will no more carry thee away into captivity."
1. A joyous fact. Sin deserved God's wrath; that wrath has spent itself on Christ. O daughter of Zion, let thy conscience be at rest. Justice is satisfied; the law is not despised: it is honoured; it is established. Thou art accepted in the Beloved; thy guilt was laid on Him of old, and thou art now safe. Come thou boldly unto God, and rejoice thou in Him. Lest, however, while God is reconciled and conscience is quieted, our fears should even for an instant arise, let us repair to Gethsemane and Calvary, and see there this great sight, how the punishment of our iniquity is accomplished.
2. See to whom this message is sent.(1) In the first chapter and at the sixth verse you find it said, "From the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed." We should have thought that Christ would have died for those who had some form and comeliness, but no. "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."(2) Wonder of wonders! the eighth and ninth verses tell us "Jerusalem hath grievously sinned," and the ninth verse tells us yet more, that "her filthiness is in her skirts." Thus those for whom Christ died are made to feel their sin.(3) Look on, again, to the seventeenth verse, and there you find that this filthiness has brought her into utter distress — "Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and there is none to comfort her." So those to whom this message is sent are brought, through a sense of sin, into a comfortless state.(4) To make the case worse, this poor daughter of Zion is obliged to confess that she deserved all her sufferings. In the eighteenth verse she says, "The Lord is righteous: for I have rebelled against His commandments." The soul feels now that God is just. Come with the ropes about our necks, ready for execution, and you will find a God ready to forgive.(5) Further still: her prayer was not yet heard (Lamentations 2:1). If thou hast been for months, ay, even for years, crying for mercy, and still hast not found it, let not this cast thee down, for to thee is this message sent this morning.(6) Further: every place of refuge was broken down (Lamentations 2:8). Our Lord, who is determined to bring us to the obedience of faith, continually beats down the sinner's confidences, till at last there is not one stone left upon another that is not thrown down; then the sinner yields himself a captive, and free grace leads him in triumph to the Cross.(7) Further still: this daughter of Jerusalem was now brought into a state of deep humiliation (Lamentations 2:10).(8) Furthermore: it seems from the thirteenth verse that all her foes were let loose against her, and her grief exceeded all bounds and prevented all comparison.(9) In the eighteenth and nineteenth verses of the same chapter you will see that at last this afflicted daughter of Zion was brought to constant prayer.
3. A precious promise. "I will no more carry thee away into captivity." Thou art in captivity now, but it is the last thou shalt ever have. Thou art sorrowing on account of sin, and troubled even to despair; but thou art now forgiven — not thou shalt be, but thou art; all the wrath was laid on Christ; there is none remaining upon thee; thou art forgiven, and thy captivity is turned as the streams in the south. Let thy mouth be filed with laughter, and thy tongue with singing, for the Lord hath done great things for thee.
II. A BURDEN OF WOE. Daughter of Edom! Thus saith the Lord unto thee, "I will visit thine iniquity." Unbeliever, thou who hast never felt thy need of Christ, and never fled to Him, to thee He says, "I will visit thine iniquity." His justice tarries, but it is sure; His axe seems rusty, but it is sharp. The sins of the past are not buried; or if they be, they shay have a resurrection. But who is this daughter of Edom?
1. It seems, according to the twenty-first verse, that the daughter of Edom was a mirthful one. Weep, all ye that make mirth in the presence of the avenging Judge, for the day cometh when He shall turn your laughter into mourning, and all your joys shay be ended!
2. Edom, moreover, dwelt very carelessly, she dwelt in the land of Uz, far from danger. Her dwelling was among the rocks. Petra, the stony city, was cut out of the live rock. The daughter of Edom said in her heart, "Who shall come hither to disturb the eagle's nest?" Thus saith the Lord, "O daughter of Edom, I will visit thine iniquity."
3. It appears that this daughter of Edom rejoiced because of the sorrow of Zion, and made mirth and merriment over the sorrows of others. Do you not hear even the wise men say, "Ah! These drivelling hypocrites, whining about sin! Why, it is only a peccadillo, a mere trifle!"
4. It seems, too, from Malachi 1:4, that Edom always retained a hope, a vain, a self-sufficient confidence.
5. Besides, it seems that this daughter of Edom was very proud (Jeremiah 49:16). But this tremendous pride was brought low at the last; and so also all those who think themselves righteous shall find themselves foul at last. They rest and trust in the rotten and broken reed of their own doings, and woe shall be unto them, for God will visit them for their sins.
III. WHAT IS THE REASON WHY THERE ARE THESE DIFFERENT MESSAGES?
1. The reason why I had to publish a message of mercy to the daughter of Zion just now was sovereign grace. Everlasting love preserved deliverance for the beloved city. Our God had kindled in her heart thoughts of repentance, and in His sovereignty, because He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, He sent her the gracious message of full remission by an accomplished punishment.
2. But why was the second message sent to the daughter of Edom? Here it is not the line of sovereignty, but the line of justice; He sent it because the daughter of Edom deserved it.
IV. WHAT CLAIMS HAVE THESE MESSAGES TO OUR FAITH? We believe this Bible to be the Word of God.
1. Well, then, you to whom the first message is sent, believe it. You said, as I read the description just now, "That is my case." Very well then, the punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished. Do not say, "I will try and believe it," but believe it.
2. As for the second message, again I say this Book is God's Word, and it is true. Believe it. "Oh," says one, "but if I believed it, I should be full of awful anguish." Would to God you were; for do you not see that then you would come under the description of the daughter of Zion, and then the promise would be yours, for what is the law sent for? To flog men to hell? No, but to be our pedagogue to bring us to Christ.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
O daughter of Edom; He will discover thy sins.
Homilist.I. It is a VAST discovery.
1. The significance of each separate sin; each one implies the thought, the wish, the volition of an immortal soul standing up in hostility to its Maker. Each is a seed of poison capable of indefinite multiplication; every act of a moral agent, whether good or bad,, has a germinating and multiplying principle in it.
2. The number of each man's sins. Count the sins of one day, and multiply them by all the days of his life, and he will feel they are as numberless as the stars of heaven. God discovers the whole; He discovers their origin, relations, bearings, issues.
II. It is a TERRIBLE discovery. God has so constituted our moral nature that nothing is so hideous and revolting to the eye of conscience as sin. When even one sin starts up in all its enormity to the eyes of conscience, how horror-striking is the vision. But for all the sins to start up in the sunlight of eternal justice, how overwhelming the terror.
III. It is an INEVITABLE discovery.
1. The discovery is sometimes made here. Cain, Belteshazzar, Judas, Felix. When made here a blessed relief may be obtained by faith in the mediation of Christ. It was so with Peter, with the Philippian jailor.
2. The discovery is certain to he made hereafter.
PlacesEdom, Jerusalem, Sodom, Uz, Zion
TopicsBetter, Burned, Caused, Death, Die, Famine, Field, Flow, Fruit, Fruits, Happier, Hunger, Increase, Killed, Lack, Pierced, Pine, Pined, Racked, Slain, Slowly, Stricken, Sword, Victims, Waste
Outline1. Zion bewails her pitiful estate
13. She confesses her sins
21. Edom is threatened and Zion comforted.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesLamentations 4:9
4823 famine, physical
LibraryA Message from God for Thee
Our two messages we will try to deliver in their order; we shall then want your attention and patience for a minute while we answer the question--Why the difference? and then we will press upon each character the force of the message, that each may be led to believe what is addressed to him. I. Our FIRST MESSAGE IS ONE OF COMFORT. "The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity." 1. We find, at the outset, a joyous fact. Read it …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 8: 1863
1875-1877. Mrs. Way's Sewing --Class for Jewesses --Bible Flower Mission --George Clarice --Incidents in Home Work --The Lord's Day --Diary at Sea -- Letters of Cheer
The Children of the Poor.
It Will be Attempted to Give a Complete List of his Writings In
Sermons of St. Bernard on the Passing of Malachy
The Great Shepherd
The Holy Spirit and the Incarnation of the Word. ...
That the Ruler Relax not his Care for the Things that are Within in his Occupation among the Things that are Without, nor Neglect to Provide
What Messiah did the Jews Expect?
The Upbringing of Jewish Children
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