Lamentations 4

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Read Lamentations 4

4 How the gold has lost its luster,
    the fine gold become dull!
The sacred gems are scattered
    at every street corner.

How the precious children of Zion,
    once worth their weight in gold,
are now considered as pots of clay,
    the work of a potter’s hands!

Even jackals offer their breasts
    to nurse their young,
but my people have become heartless
    like ostriches in the desert.

Because of thirst the infant’s tongue
    sticks to the roof of its mouth;
the children beg for bread,
    but no one gives it to them.

Those who once ate delicacies
    are destitute in the streets.
Those brought up in royal purple
    now lie on ash heaps.

The punishment of my people
    is greater than that of Sodom,
which was overthrown in a moment
    without a hand turned to help her.

Their princes were brighter than snow
    and whiter than milk,
their bodies more ruddy than rubies,
    their appearance like lapis lazuli.

But now they are blacker than soot;
    they are not recognized in the streets.
Their skin has shriveled on their bones;
    it has become as dry as a stick.

Those killed by the sword are better off
    than those who die of famine;
racked with hunger, they waste away
    for lack of food from the field.

10 With their own hands compassionate women
    have cooked their own children,
who became their food
    when my people were destroyed.

11 The Lord has given full vent to his wrath;
    he has poured out his fierce anger.
He kindled a fire in Zion
    that consumed her foundations.

12 The kings of the earth did not believe,
    nor did any of the peoples of the world,
that enemies and foes could enter
    the gates of Jerusalem.

13 But it happened because of the sins of her prophets
    and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed within her
    the blood of the righteous.

14 Now they grope through the streets
    as if they were blind.
They are so defiled with blood
    that no one dares to touch their garments.

15 “Go away! You are unclean!” people cry to them.
    “Away! Away! Don’t touch us!”
When they flee and wander about,
    people among the nations say,
    “They can stay here no longer.”

16 The Lord himself has scattered them;
    he no longer watches over them.
The priests are shown no honor,
    the elders no favor.

17 Moreover, our eyes failed,
    looking in vain for help;
from our towers we watched
    for a nation that could not save us.

18 People stalked us at every step,
    so we could not walk in our streets.
Our end was near, our days were numbered,
    for our end had come.

19 Our pursuers were swifter
    than eagles in the sky;
they chased us over the mountains
    and lay in wait for us in the desert.

20 The Lord’s anointed, our very life breath,
    was caught in their traps.
We thought that under his shadow
    we would live among the nations.

21 Rejoice and be glad, Daughter Edom,
    you who live in the land of Uz.
But to you also the cup will be passed;
    you will be drunk and stripped naked.

22 Your punishment will end, Daughter Zion;
    he will not prolong your exile.
But he will punish your sin, Daughter Edom,
    and expose your wickedness.

Go Deeper

Lamentations chapter four is a continued poetic reflection over the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem and Jerusalem’s soon after exile. It is rich with contrasts of Jerusalem from when it was a place that sought to honor God before the siege, versus the sins that brought God’s judgment on Jerusalem in the form of the Babylonian siege. Although the people of God once lived out their identity of being precious and valuable, they allowed for sin to cover them and overtake their identity as God’s chosen. As a consequence of their evil there was immense cruelty, hunger, and judgment. Throughout this chapter it is evident that the high were brought low on account of their sins, and that all were judged because all had committed evil.

Verse 13 is pivotal to understanding the reason behind the Lord’s judgment. God is slow to anger (Psalm 103:8), and when He does unveil His wrath it is not spontaneous and unintentional but a divine judgment on evil. This chapter explained that the unrepented sins of the people of Jerusalem were the cause of His judgment, and the author specifically noted the sins of the priests and prophets. God is Just, and does not let sin go unpunished then or now. He does not sit back passively and ignore evil being done, but addresses it and judges it impartially (Romans 2:11). 

We often desire for the Lord to punish evil, but request that He stops punishing sin when it comes to us. That would not be completely just though, so He promises to punish all evil (which includes ours). While in one hand we hold God’s perfect justice, in the other we hold God’s perfect love. God is love (1 John 4:16), and seeks to be in community with His children then and now. He was faithful to His covenant in the Old Testament which promised to love Israel and bring Jesus as Savior, and offers a covenant to all that our sins can be paid for through Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection. God’s sending of His only son Jesus is the ultimate act of His love (John 3:16). 

The Holy Spirit preserved this book to teach human’s capacity for evil and God’s just judgment. It also teaches human’s ability to lament over their sin, confess their sins, and find God’s loving forgiveness (1 John 1:9). God is seen as both justice and love, and neither could be true without the other. The Lord’s judgment of punishing evil is complete through His love of sending Jesus to be punished in place of those who believe!


  1. What is your initial reaction to seeing that the Lord is a God of justice and One who judges sin?
  2. How do you understand that God is both justice and love? Is there one that you lean towards more than the other?
  3. How does God’s justice help you to understand His love more?


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4 thoughts on “Lamentations 4”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    What sobering words Jeremiah delivers. God’s anger against sin is no joke. Jeremiah lays it out as it was—brutal! Verse 17 caught my attention, “We looked in vain for our allies to come and save us, but we were looking to nations that could offer no help at all.” They had looked to priests, leaders, and fickle nations around them, but came up sorely lacking. Where have we misplaced our trust? Careers, relationships, possessions, governments, status, money, etc.? God has specifically said “You shall make no idols” for he knows how destructive they become in our lives. I’m reflecting and repenting pushing back against rationalizing and a hard heart. Genesis 4:7 is a stark reminder to us, “But if you refuse to do what is right, sin is crouching at your door, it desires you, but you must master it.”

  2. It is so easy to see the as in Matthew 7:5 Why do you look at the [insignificant] speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice and acknowledge the [egregious] log that is in your own eye? It is so important to surround yourself with Godly people. We are all going to stumble but that is where accountability comes in to help. 1 Peter 4:11 ( this is a different translation) Aramaic Bible in Plain English. Everyone who speaks, let him speak according to the word of God, and everyone who ministers, according to what power God gives to him, that God may be glorified in all that you do, by Yeshua The Messiah, whose glory and honor is truly to the eternity of eternities. We are to speak God’s word over and to people, minister or serve them with what we have money, time, stuff.

    God thank you for a servants heart, to see a need and if I can meet it that You are glorified!!! Thank you for your word that I can continue to write it on my heart. To speak it over family and others but that it is what YOU want me to say and also Do for your glory and honor in Jesus name amen

  3. Audrey Andrews

    This is a tough scripture to read but at the same time it points to how if we let “little” sins grow, it overtakes us. Oh how it points me to call the sin out in my own kids so that they turn from it quickly!

    God, in His love for His children, wants us to eliminate sin in our life. Just as we want the best for our children. 💝

  4. When you visit the Holy Land, scripture takes on a whole new meaning, at least for me. Cancel Disney, and take your children to Israel. We never felt unsafe.
    I pray my as my daughter grows spiritually she will reflect on the history she stood upon. I wanted that foundation for myself growing up as I would enjoy watching slideshows from a local Dr that would come to bring his trips to life from a projector where my dad pastored.
    When you visit the Holy Land, you see archeological digs most everywhere. You find yourself amazed at the ruins that have been uncovered, and those buried beneath the rumble. You find yourself trying to embrace the history you’re standing on, and referencing scripture the same time. It’s overwhelmingly holy and magnificent.
    This is the first time for me to read Lamentations since my trip, and I’m hoping we are reading Jeremiah next. It’s beautiful in one way to know God tried to protect His people. Countless times. But sin is so ugly and blinding. My prayers today are for us to get a prophetic word the first time. To turn from our sins when God speaks directly to us, or through someone else. I pray to end sin and stop destruction at the hand of God. We need to be desperate and serious in loving God, and ask ourselves how many times must He ask us to repent of something?

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