Lamentations 3:22-42

There is no doubt, I think, that the ground of hope which the
prophet lays to heart, as he said in verse 21, is stated in the
following verses: "It is of Jehovah's mercies that we are not consumed,
because his mercies fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy
faithfulness. Jehovah is my portion; therefore will I hope in him." The
last clause confirms the thought that verse 21 is anticipative, and
that here the spring is touched.

For the turn given by the Targum, and the older versions, save the
Vulgate, namely, "The mercies of Jehovah are not consumed, for his
compassions fail not," I see no sufficient reason, though Calvin
considers this sense more suitable. The Latin and our own version seem
to me preferable, not only as being clearer but as giving greater
prominence to the persons of His people, and yet maintaining in the
last clause what the others spread over both clauses. His mercies then
have no end; "they are renewed every morning: great is thy
faithfulness. Jehovah is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I
hope in him." It is a goodly portion without doubt, though unbelief
thinks it nothing and pines after some one to show any good after a
tangible sort, the corn and wine and oil of this creation. But to have
Him who has all things and who is Himself infinitely more than all He
has is beyond comparison a better portion, as he must own who by grace
believes it.

"Jehovah is good to them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh
him. It is good that one should both hope and quietly wait for the
salvation of Jehovah. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his
youth." Confident expectation is thus cherished, while an illusive
profession of waiting for Him is detected and judged. For though a
careless spirit might pretend to wait for Him, could it be thought of
such a one that he is a soul which seeks Him! Activity is implied in
this. The next clause asserts the value of patient looking to Him. But
it is not tolerable to infer that we err in looking for the continual
light of God's favour. For to this redemption entitles us; and Christ
is risen the spring and pattern of life in resurrection, on which the
Father ever looks with complacency. The last good here contemplated is
that one bear the yoke in his youth. Subjection to God's will and to
the trials He sends is ever blessed, and this from tender years.

"He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon
him. He putteth his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope. He
giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with
reproach." Thus God's ways are accepted in silence; and humiliation is
complete unto death in conscience, yet not without hope; and man's
contemptuous persecution and reproach are submitted to.

"For Jehovah will not cast off for ever: but though he cause grief,
yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.
For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men." Hope
is thus confirmed, without which indeed there is no power of endurance
any more than of comfort. His judicial chastenings of Israel are
measured and will have an end, as is equally true of His righteous
government of ourselves now.

The next triplet is peculiar in its structure, each verse beginning
with the infinitive, as is fairly presented in the common Authorized
Version. "To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth, to
turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most high, to
subvert a man in his cause Jehovah, approveth not." They are acts of
oppression, cruelty, and wrong: should the Lord not see this? Certainly
they have no sanction from Him.

The utter ignorance of the future on man's part is next set before
us. "Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when Jehovah
commandeth it not? Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not
evil and good? Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the
punishment of his sins?" All is plainly declared by God. But
complainers are never satisfied nor otherwise right. It were better to
complain of ourselves, yea every man because of his sins.

Then in verses 40-42 self-judgment is the word of exhortation. "Let
us search and try our ways, and turn again to Jehovah. Let us lift up
our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. We have transgressed
and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned." It was just but tremendous
thus to find no sign of pardon in His ways.