Jerusalem Deserted and Forsaken[a]
1 How deserted now is the city
that was formerly overflowing with people!
Once she was the greatest of the nations;
now she is like a widow.
Once she was a princess among the provinces;
now she is subjected to forced labor.
2 She weeps bitterly throughout the night,
with tears running down her cheeks.
Not a single one of those who loved her
remains to offer her comfort.
All of her friends[b] have betrayed her
and have become her enemies.
3 After enduring intense suffering and endless servitude,
Judah has gone into exile.
She lives among the nations
but finds no resting place.
In the midst of her distress
her persecutors have overtaken her.
4 The roads to Zion mourn,
for no pilgrims now come to her festivals.
All of her gateways are deserted;
her priests groan,
her young maidens are grief-stricken
and their fate is bitter.
5 Her foes have become her masters,
and her enemies prosper,
for the Lord has made her suffer
for her endless transgressions.
Her children are no longer there,
having been taken captive by their oppressor.
6 Every vestige of splendor
has departed from the daughter of Zion.[c]
Her princes have become like stags
that can find no pasture;
with their strength exhausted
they flee before their pursuers.
7 In the days of her misery and distress
Jerusalem will remember those times
when her people were overcome by the enemy,
and she had no one to help her.
Her foes mocked her unceasingly
and laughed over her downfall.
8 Because Jerusalem had sinned so grievously,
she was regarded as an object of defilement.
All those who honored her now despise her
after having beheld her nakedness.
She herself groans in anguish
and turns her face away.
9 Her filthiness befouled her skirts;
she gave no thought to her future.
Her downfall was incredible,
and there was no one to comfort her.
“O Lord, look at my affliction,
for the enemy has triumphed.”
10 The enemy stretched out their hands
to seize all her treasures.
She beheld the nations
invade her sanctuary,
those whom you had forbidden
to come into your assembly.
11 All her people groan
as they desperately search for bread.
They trade their treasures for food
to keep themselves alive.
Look, O Lord, and see
how worthless I have become.
12 All of you who pass this way,
look and see.
Is there any sorrow like the sorrow
that has been inflicted upon me
which the Lord forced me to suffer
on the day of his fierce anger?
13 From on high he sent down fire
that lodged deep in my bones.
He spread a net for my feet
and turned me back.
He left me desolate
and in a state of weakness all day long.
14 My sins have been bound into a yoke,
woven together by his hand.
They weigh down my neck
and sap my strength.
The Lord has handed me over
to those whom I cannot withstand.
15 The Lord has totally rejected
all the warriors in my midst,
and he has summoned an army against me
to crush my young warriors.
The Lord has trodden in the winepress
the virgin daughter of Judah.
16 This is why I weep
and my eyes flow with tears.
Anyone who could comfort and strengthen me
is far from my presence.
My children are desolate,
for the enemy has prevailed.
17 Zion stretches out her hands
but there is no one to comfort her
The Lord has commanded the neighbors of Jacob
to become his enemies.
In their midst Jerusalem has become
an unclean thing to be avoided.
18 The Lord has acted justly,
for I rebelled against his command.
Listen, all you peoples,
and behold my suffering.
My maidens and my youths
have been taken into captivity.
19 I called out to my allies
but they failed me.
My priests and my elders
perished in the city
where they searched for food
to keep themselves alive.
20 Behold, O Lord, how great is my distress.
My inner being is in turmoil.
My heart recoils within me
because I have been so rebellious.
In the streets the sword causes bereavement;
in the houses death reigns.
21 People have heard my groans,
but no one has offered to comfort me.
All my enemies have learned of my troubles,
and they are pleased at what you have done.
Hasten the day[d] you have proclaimed
so that they may become like me.
22 Let all their wicked deeds come before you,
and deal with them
as you have dealt with me
because of all my sins.
My groans never cease,
and I am sick at heart.
- Lamentations 1:1 This poet describes the sad state of Jerusalem after the destruction by the Chaldeans. Pleading for God’s help, the city joins in the prophet’s laments (v. 12) with the terrible realization that it was God’s wrath that Jerusalem suffered because of its infidelity. Verse 22 implores God to deal as harshly with the enemies of Jerusalem as he had with them.
- Lamentations 1:2 Friends: the military allies of the Israelites.
- Lamentations 1:6 Daughter of Zion: the city of Jerusalem and its people.
- Lamentations 1:21 The day: of God’s intervention and punishment.