By Diane Caston
This morning we will be looking at some promises in the 3rd chapter of Lamentations. First, we are going to start in Deuteronomy 28.
We have been focusing on the promises of God for our New Year’s study. God has many promises for His people as we’ve seen already. His promises prove His faithfulness. Now we always like to focus on the promises that are uplifting, that encourage us and build us up. There are other promises in the bible too, like some of the promises in Deut. 28. Let’s turn there.
“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God: 3 “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. 4 “Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. 5 “Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 6 “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. 7 “The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. 8 “The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. 9 “The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. 10 Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. 11 And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord ] swore to your fathers to give you. 12 The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13 And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them. 14 So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
If you notice, these are conditional promises. Immediately following these verses are the curses.
“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
The exact opposite of each of these blessings was Promised
So, we see the sad story of the history of the nation and people of Israel as they are warned, repent for a time, but always turn back to idolatry and wickedness.
We see the Lord sending prophet after prophet to warn His people of what is going to happen if they don’t change their wicked ways.
Jeremiah spent over 40 years warning the people of Jerusalem that judgement was coming. The ten northern tribes had already been taken away. The Assyrians had already carried off part of Judah. Jerusalem was next. When a nation, like a building moves off its foundation, its collapse can come suddenly just as it did with Jerusalem.
Now let’s turn to Lamentations Chapter 3
The book of Lamentations is five poems, funeral poems, poems of mourning. It is God’s broken heart over having to destroy Jerusalem and judge His people. His rod and staff are supposed to lead and guide, but in this case, they had to be used as a instruments of correction against rebellious Judah.
Vs. 1 “I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of His wrath.”
“I am the man” who has seen affliction. Jeremiah gives a personal description of what he went through and the horrendous things he saw in the destruction of Jerusalem.
“The sufferings of the people of Judah are described as though one man had experienced them. It is possible to interpret this chapter as a record of the feelings of Jeremiah himself, or as a personification in an otherwise unknown individual of the nation’s tragic sufferings.” (Harrison)
“Jeremiah’s personal lament is a reminder that suffering is always personal. When nations go through times of tragedy and tribulation, the greatest suffering always takes place at the individual level.” (Ryken)
We see that today with all the refugees of war being displaced and suffering, because of, many times the decisions of others.
“That which is most impressive in this song is the identification of the prophet with the people and with God. He recognized the necessity of the suffering but suffered with the sufferers.” (Morgan)
These are some of the things Jeremiah experienced:
He has led me and made me walk
3 He has turned His hand against me
He has aged my flesh and my skin,.
5 He has besieged me
6 He has set me in dark places
7 He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out;
He has made my chain heavy.
11 He has made me desolate.
13 He has caused the arrows of His quiver
To pierce my loins.
15 He has filled me with bitterness,
16 He has also broken my teeth with gravel,
And I said, “My strength and my hope
Have perished from the Lord.”
Remember my affliction and roaming,
The wormwood and the gall.
20 My soul still remembers
And sinks within me.
Jeremiah was remembering all the horrible things he had seen and experienced. He was suffering what we would call today PTS. He remembered the wormwood and the gall. His soul remembered and sank within him. He believed all strength and hope were gone.
You know how this is when you’re grieving. When you’re experiencing something tragic or stressful in your life, you can forget about it for a while, then back it comes and your heart and soul just sink. This fortunately brought him to a place of humility, not anger. He was at the bottom. There was nothing worse that could happen but death itself. He was hopeless, and hopelessness is always behind despair.
So, it was good for Jeremiah’s soul to sink, to find its lowest point, so that he could build once again on the right foundation. Out of the depths of despair and depression there is only one place to go.
“It is evident that in the preceding verses there is a bitterness of complaint against the bitterness of adversity , that is not becoming to man when under the chastising hand of God; and, while indulging this feeling, all hope fled. Then here we find a different feeling; he humbles himself under the mighty hand of God, and then his hope revives.” (Clarke)
“The poet’s mention of ‘the Lord’ (vs.18) broke the spell of misery that had bound him.” (Ellison)
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
For perhaps the first time in the book, hope is allowed. Having sunk to the lowest place in his soul, Jeremiah now remembered something that started hope within.
Suddenly, there is a change of mood, a change of focus. Out of the depths of despair and depression comes a recollection! He started to remind himself of who the Lord is and what He had promised before. I can almost see him remembering… Oh yeah! The Lord told me this in the past…
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jer. 29:11-13
Jeremiah was in just the right place for these memories. We often must do the same. We must adjust our thinking.
Rom 12:2 tells us that we will “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”
2 Cor 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Otherwise, there are times in this life when we can think ourselves into despair and hopelessness, even to the grave if we don’t change our frame of mind.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
Even in the middle of terrible judgement the Lord has compassion and mercy. Even in the middle of His hand of correction in our lives, or even just the awful consciences of this evil world we live in, God’s mercy is there.
We all know the scripture, Rom 8:28 which tells us that He will make , “ all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Through the Lord’s mercies Israel was not completely consumed. There was still a remnant, a remnant with a promise of restoration. Wherever God leaves life, He leaves hope.
“See where Jeremiah gets his comfort; he seems to say, ‘Bad as my case is, it might have been worse, for I might have been consumed, and I should have been consumed if the Lord’s compassions had failed.’” (Spurgeon)
Jeremiah continues to encourage himself. Reminding himself that God’s mercies,
Vs. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
All this made Jeremiah consider the great faithfulness of God; He had promised that judgement would come, and it had. But He also is, as He told Moses on the mount, “the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished;” Ex.34:6-7
He never fails in sending His mercies and compassions. Even in their catastrophe, in their judgement, God was faithful. He faithfully announced His judgments and performed them, and God would prove to be just as faithful in His promised restoration.
“The prophet addressed God personally and directly: ‘Great is your faithfulness’. In the process of remembering God’s attributes, Jeremiah was drawn back into living fellowship and intimate communion with his faithful God.” (Ryken)
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”
The Lord is my portion
: As in
-58, “You are my portion, O Lord;
… Be merciful to me according to Your word. ”
Therefore I hope in Him . God couldn’t really be his hope until he was first his portion. This was a pathway to hope for him.
Jeremiah found the key to satisfaction—finding one’s portion in the Lord. Whatever measure he was to receive, whatever inheritance, whatever future, it would all be found in Yahweh.
These are the words of a satisfied soul. Jeremiah had no other place of satisfaction, so he was settled with the portion received, and that portion was the Lord Himself.
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him . All the misery of God’s people had come, because they would not truly seek God and wait for Him.
They rejected and rebelled for generations. They looked to others for rescue. Due to His mercies, seeking Him again would bring renewed expressions of His goodness.
“Do not be in a hurry; do not expect to be delivered out of your trouble the first time you begin to cry unto God. Oh, no: ‘the Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.’ (Spurgeon)
Gal 6:9 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not lose heart.”
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord.
“There are times when the only thing a sufferer can do is wait for God. But waiting is good because God is worth waiting for.” (Ryken)
Jer 24:7 Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.
It is good that he should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord : Everything previous in Lamentations was deep in despair, and the misery was by no means over. Yet these flashes of light are welcome and necessary. Against all the despair, Jeremiah proclaimed to himself and all others the goodness of hope and patient seeking of God
Anne Graham Lott devotion - A Tree or a Twig
God plants you and me in our faith to grow us into “trees” of righteousness. He uses adversity to make us strong. And He leads us to endure— not “somehow,” but victoriously as we choose to trust Him.
King David knew that the secret of victory over adversity was a conscious choice to trust God. He cried out in prayer , “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? . . . But I trust in your unfailing love” (Psalm 13:2, 5). David exercised his will to trust God even when he didn’t feel like it. He had learned to walk by faith, not by feelings.
What about you? Will you grow into a tree of righteousness— or remain a twig? Will you have victory over adversity— or remain defeated? It’s your choice. Choose to be strong! Choose to trust in Him!
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Psalm 1:1–3