The title of this book of the Bible describes very accurately its content. The title Lamentations comes from the Greek translation, while the Hebrew simply had the word “How” as its title. That would have been the first word of this book of the Bible as it begins: “How lonely sits the city…”. It was thought historically that Jeremiah was the one who wrote this book in the Bible. Again, it is very fitting, considering that Jeremiah is called the “weeping” prophet.
The historical context for this Scripture is the destruction of the temple and the Babylonians having not only invaded the land and taken over Jerusalem, but had also taken the people into captivity, or as we would say, into slavery. As soon as you dive into this Scripture you can tell that something has gone terribly wrong. A psalm that you can read to go alongside this book of the Bible is Psalm 137 where we read that people laid down their harps and wept. Again, this is thought to have happened in the Babylonian conquest when the people were taken out of Jerusalem into captivity.
The personification of Jerusalem as a “she” is not unusual at all in Scripture. Judah and “daughter Zion” are all seen as having been ravaged and completely laid bare by the invading marauders. But interestingly enough no blame is placed at the feet of God. Instead we read: “Jerusalem sinned grievously, so she has become a mockery” in vs. 8. We also read: “The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against his word” in vs. 18. There is a recognition that Jerusalem is receiving what is due to them. But it is still painful.
Often we object to what we receive because we don’t feel as if we deserve what we get. We often complain about our state of being simply because we don’t recognize how our actions have contributed to that state and we live often in a state of denial of our own responsibilities. That is not what we are called to be or to do. We are called to claim the responsibilities of falling short of the glory of God as Romans 3:23 reminds us. This is a great example of a tragedy that has taken place and those in the center of that tragedy looking back over their life and seeing the events that led up to the tragedy and how they were contributing factors to that tragedy. We need more people to be held accountable and feel responsible in these kinds of situations.