Understanding The Bible
STUDY REFERENCE
Clarence E. Mason's "OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETIC BOOKS"
LAMENTATIONS
Introduction and Simple Outline

 

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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
1970

OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETIC BOOKS
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF BIBLE
1970

 

OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETIC BOOKS
LAMENTATIONS: Introduction and Simple Outline
(C. E. Mason, Jr.)


WRITER: This book is attributed by tradition to the prophet Jeremiah. In the Septuagint translation it begins with the following note: "And it came to pass after Israel had been carried away captive, and Jerusalem made desolate, Jeremiah sat weeping, and lamented this lament over Jerusalem and said." Modern critics have questioned the Jeremiah authorship on these grounds: Chapters 2 and 4 they say lean strongly on Ezekiel and parts must have been copied after Ezekiel's writings. Chapter 4:17 could not have been written by Jeremiah because the writer includes himself among those who looked for help from Egypt, and verse 20 speaks of Zedekiah as Jeremiah could not have done. But these are merely guesses, because Jeremiah identified himself with the nation and looked upon the king as the anointed of God. Others object that the style is not that of Jeremiah. The testimony of the past, however, should not be set aside without the strongest evidence and such evidence is lacking.

MESSAGE: The book is rightly called "Lamentations. " Its Hebrew name is simply "Alas!" There is intense struggle of soul between the author as patriot and priest, and as prophet and servant of God. As patriot he cries out against the sufferings which have come upon his people, and as priest he represents the people's case to God. But then as servant of God he cannot but vindicate God's holiness in judgment, and as prophet he represents God's case to the people.

The book is itself a prophecy in that it reveals to us the heart of Him to whom 1:12 could alone fully apply, the One who wept over Jerusalem (Mt. 23:36-38). In a spiritual sense we are listening to the heart cries of "the Man of Sorrows, who hath borne our grief and carried our sorrows."

"In every pang that rends the heart
The Man of Sorrows had a part!"

STRUCTURE: The book is really composed of Five Dirges, and each Dirge is a complete poem occupying a chapter in itself. The first four chapters are acrostics, each verse of chapters 1, 2, and 4 beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In chapter 3 the first three verses begin with the first letter and so on. Chapter 5 is not acrostic.

The outline is as follows:

  1. THE DESOLATION AND SORROW OF JERUSALEM 1

    1. The desolation described 1-11

    2. The appeal for sympathy in sorrow 12-17

    3. Confession of sin 18-22
       

  2. THE DAY OF THE LORD'S ANGER 2

    1. Jehovah seems as though He has become their enemy 1-10

    2. However, their afflictions are due to their transgressions 11-19

    3. The prayer of penitence 20-22
       

  3. THE PROPHET IDENTIFIES HIMSELF WITH ISRAEL IN THEIR SUFFERING AND DISTRESS 3 "Let us search and try our ways"

    1. The story of his affliction 1-21

    2. The expression of his faith in God 22-36
      The mercy, faithfulness, goodness, and compassion of God are all expressed in this section. Only God's grace has spared even a
      remnant.

    3. The only basis of restoration: Self-judgment 36-50

    4. A prayer for vengeance on Judah's enemies 51-66
       

  4. PAST GLORY AND PRESENT SHAME CONTRASTED 4

    1. Contrast between the present and the past 1-12
      A picture of the terrible starvation due to Nebuchadnezzar's siege
      of Jerusalem.

    2. The change due to the sins of prophets and priests, who shed the blood
      of the just and led the people astray 14-20

    3. Edom to be condemned and Zion comforted 21-22
       

  5. THE PRAYER OF HOPE IN THE MIDST OF SORROW 5 (not acrostic)

    1. Appeal to Jehovah to remember their sorrow and desolation 1-19
      "Thou, 0 Lord, remainest forever!"

    2. Prayer for conversion and renewal 20-22

 

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