Lamentations 3:51 What I see brings grief to my soul
because of all the women of my city.
Jeremiah spoke many strong words against the people of Judah, to the point that the word, “jeremiad,” has entered the English language. However, in spite of all that, and in spite of all the mistreatment he received from his own people, he was utterly heartbroken to see what the Babylonians did to them. Given what is happening in the Middle East today, it is all too easy to imagine why he singled out the women in this particular verse. Actually, in the very next verse he talks about “Those who were my enemies without cause,” so we know that he wasn’t just talking about the people who were nice to him. The thing is, he was not vindictive. He was practicing the Sermon on the Mount hundreds of years before Jesus spoke it! Even though the Lord had told him not to pray for those who were so rebellious against Him, (Jeremiah 7:16, 11:14) he still cried out for God’s mercy when he saw the people receiving the wages of their sins. Even today we see many people who are flaunting their rebellion and spitting in God’s face, and in the process deliberately causing lots of problems for those who seek to follow God. We are not to condone their behavior, but we still must not hate them, even as we seek their defeat. We use the phrase, “Hate the sin but love the sinner,” but we’re not very good at doing that, and the devil deliberately tries to confuse the issue. We’ve got to stand against him and let the Holy Spirit guide our words and our actions, so that as many as will may repent and believe for their salvation.
The book of Lamentations has a special place in my personal history because of an incident during my second visit to the US, the year I turned 10. The book came up during Sunday School, and the teacher of my class asked if anyone knew what the name meant. I piped up and said, “To lament is to be very, very sad.” The fact that I answered the question by defining, accurately, the root word blew my teacher out of the water, and for the rest of the year his nickname for me was “Lammie-pie.” I can’t say that the book has been a favorite of mind, but this third chapter has some real riches, particularly in verses 19-33. I hadn’t previously underlined this particular verse, but I need to let it remind me to express compassion for those around me who are mired in their sins. I am never to hate human beings, even as I stand firm against them when they are being used by the devil. I am never to be vindictive, but always speak the truth in love so that as many as possible may accept God’s free offer and escape the traps of the devil.
Father, thank You for this reminder. The world is indeed a mess right now, as You know better than I do. Help me keep my eyes on You, remembering that Your final outcome will be very good indeed and keeping myself available to You as Your agent. May Your Word through my lips – and my fingers – accomplish that for which You send it, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!