Outline of Lamentations
1. No Comfort, No Comforter (Lamentations 1:1-22)
ZionZion originally referred to a mountain near Jerusalem where David conquered a Jebusite stronghold. Later the term came to mean a number of other things like the Temple, Jerusalem, and even the Promised Land. More has been devastated and has no comforter because of her rebellion. Zion screams out her plight in the hope that someone, especially God, will notice and act to change her desolate condition. Third-person description is juxtaposed and intertwined with first-person pleading.
2. Anger and Weeping (Lamentations 2:1-22)
The Lord has destroyed all of Zion’s vitality with angry judgment and become like an enemy to Zion. The speakers respond with weeping and relentless petitioning that the Lord not ignore the consequence of the judgment. Weeping shifts to a forceful demand that the Lord acknowledge the terror in which Zion exists.
3. Not Forgiven (Lamentations 3:1-66)
Through several images of encirclement, the speaker describes his affliction under the wrath of God. Standard confessions of God’s steadfast loveThe steadfast love (hesed) of God is the assurance of God’s loving kindness, faithfulness, and mercy. This assurance rings throughout the Old Testament, and is affirmed more than 120 times in the Psalms. In some hymns of praise the response of the people was likely… More and acts of deliverance are recalled to bolster hopeful waiting, but recognition of the current absence of God’s forgiveness returns the speaker to weeping and renewed calls for the Lord to attend to what is happening.
4. Affliction upon Affliction (Lamentations 4:1-22)
Without directly addressing God, the description of the depth of the devastation is extended. Sodom was overthrown in a moment. In contrast the speaker’s affliction drags on. Leadership has failed and there is no escape.
5. Restore and Renew! (Lamentations 5:1-22)
Life continues, but it can hardly be called life. Begging, relentless servitude, violence, and hunger persist. The chapter uses the first-person plural, and the reader is now caught up in the “we” and “us” and cannot remain an outside observer. The final plea for restoration and renewal is accompanied by a lingering sense that the devastation might be permanent because God has completely and irreversibly abandoned the community.