The chapter describes God’s wrath in a series of verses that surround an expression of confidence in the Lord’s enduring 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 (3:22-24). But the center cannot hold; the confidence unravels and intense petitioning resumes as the chapter progresses.
The chapter starts with first-person speech by a male speaker. The speaker’s plight is described with metaphors of encirclement (he is “besieged” “enveloped,” “walled in”). But then comes a shift to conventional language extolling God’s faithfulness and sovereignty. The speaker almost sounds like one of Job’s friends. He asserts that God’s rejection is not enduring or willingly implemented and he urges the audience to join in a return to God. But, as suddenly as the shift to confidence intervened in the text, it disappears. It is not just a matter of sinning and rebelling. The deeper problem is that God has not forgiven (3:42). Indeed, now God is accused of being “wrapped” in anger and in an impenetrable cloud that no prayer can pierce. Reading 3:22-24 shorn of its context distorts the function of Lamentations.