June 20, 2016

Lamentations 3:21-26

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

In our fast paced society we want everything instantly!  Searching the internet, I found something interesting.  Various media outlets reported earlier this year that (according to a Canadian study by Microsoft) “…the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000…to eight seconds [today]”  They say it is due to the increasing use of smart phones and other technological devices.  The reports also said, “Goldfish, meanwhile, are believed to have an attention span of nine seconds…”!  Just 100 years ago, the attention span for adults was calculated at 20 minutes!  Is it any wonder we modern human beings have trouble Waiting patiently for something?

Is that why we modern Western Christians have such trouble fulfilling what God says about Waiting upon Him to answer our prayers and to work out His plans on our behalf?

Lamentations is a book consisting of five chapters of Hebrew poetry.  Four chapters follow the Hebrew alphabet – chapters 1, 2 and 4 start each of their 22 verses with successive letters.  Chapter 3 has 66 verses – 22 sets of three.  The three verses of each set begins with a different Hebrew letter in alphabetical order.  Chapter 5 does not hold to the same order, but also has 22 verses.  As the name suggests, Lamentations records the prophet Jeremiah’s lament over the fall and destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the invading Babylonians.  Sin had brought such judgment – mainly the sin of idolatry of God’s chosen people, the Jews!  They had left their first love (Revelation 2:4), and worshiped and served idols!

This is what is written in Lamentation 2:21 through 26 (see also Psalm 25:4, 5; 27:14; 59:9; 62:5; 123:2; 130:5; Isaiah 30:18; 40:31; Jeremiah 14:22; Hosea 12:6; Micah 7:7; Romans 8:25; I Thessalonians 1:10):

      This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.  Through the LORD’S
      mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They
      are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  “The LORD is my
      portion,” says my soul, “therefore I hope in Him!”  The LORD is good
      to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.  It is good that
      one should hope and wait quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.

In the midst of 148 verses of lament and woe over invasion, destruction and an uncertain future, Jeremiah breaks through with this six-verse proclamation of faith in God’s mercy, compassion, steadfastness, faithfulness, provision and goodness!  How did he maintain such an attitude?  He gives the answer twice – in verses 25 and 26 – Waiting upon God!  And verse 25 also defines Waiting for us:  “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.

Hebrew poetry is most often in the form of parallelism – “…the restating of the second line of a couplet what has been expressed in the first.” (Eerdman’s The New Bible Dictionary, Poetry).  Such parallelism is explained in this article as:

•      synonymous – This is repeating the idea expressed in the first line using different words in the second.  An example is Psalm 59:1 – “Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; Defend me from those who rise up against me.

•      synthetic – “…the second line amplifies or compliments the first.”  Psalm 55:6 – “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!  For then I would fly away and be at rest.

•      antithetical – “…the second line expresses a contrast to the first….”  Psalm 1:6 – “…the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

•      climactic – “…a heightening of the effect [of the first line] in the second line….”  Psalm 55:12, 13 – “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it….But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance.

Lamentations 3:25 is either synonymous or synthetic.  The second line tells us that to wait for God is to seek Him!  Waiting upon (or seeking) God is accomplished by finding out all that He has revealed about Himself (through His Word – see II Timothy 2:15), connecting with Him (through prayer – see Philippians 4:6), believing Him (through faith – see Acts 16:31), following Him (through obedience – see Romans 6:16), and praising Him in worship (alone and with others – see Psalm 100:5).

The problem is, such Waiting takes time!  If modern western man only has an attention span of 8 seconds, what would such people do when in ancient Israel’s case the wait was 70 years?!  For God told the prophet in Jeremiah 29:10, “…thus says the LORD, After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.”  God, true to His word, let the Jews come back to the land of Israel after 70 years of captivity in Babylon.

Waiting is not always what we want to do.  But what is He currently telling you to wait for?  As it says in Psalm 27:13 and 14:

      I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the good-
      ness of the LORD in the land of the living.  Wait on the LORD; be of
      good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the

Leave a Reply