Worthless, Cheap, Abject!

Oh, oh, oh . . . 
How empty the city, once teeming with people.
    A widow, this city, once in the front rank of nations,
    once queen of the ball, she’s now a drudge in the kitchen.

She cries herself to sleep each night, tears soaking her pillow.
    No one’s left among her lovers to sit and hold her hand.
    Her friends have all dumped her.

After years of pain and hard labor, Judah has gone into exile.
    She camps out among the nations, never feels at home.
    Hunted by all, she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Zion’s roads weep, empty of pilgrims headed to the feasts.
    All her city gates are deserted, her priests in despair.
    Her virgins are sad. How bitter her fate.

Her enemies have become her masters. Her foes are living it up
    because God laid her low, punishing her repeated rebellions.
    Her children, prisoners of the enemy, trudge into exile.

All beauty has drained from Daughter Zion’s face.
    Her princes are like deer famished for food,
    chased to exhaustion by hunters.

Jerusalem remembers the day she lost everything,
    when her people fell into enemy hands, and not a soul there to help.
    Enemies looked on and laughed, laughed at her helpless silence.

Jerusalem, who outsinned the whole world, is an outcast.
    All who admired her despise her now that they see beneath the surface.
    Miserable, she groans and turns away in shame.

She played fast and loose with life, she never considered tomorrow,
    and now she’s crashed royally, with no one to hold her hand:
    “Look at my pain, O God! And how the enemy cruelly struts.”

10 The enemy reached out to take all her favorite things. She watched
    as pagans barged into her Sanctuary, those very people for whom
    you posted orders: keep out: this assembly off-limits.

11 All the people groaned, so desperate for food, so desperate to stay alive
    that they bartered their favorite things for a bit of breakfast:
    “O God, look at me! Worthless, cheap, abject!

12 “And you passersby, look at me! Have you ever seen anything like this?
    Ever seen pain like my pain, seen what he did to me,
    what God did to me in his rage?

13 “He struck me with lightning, skewered me from head to foot,
    then he set traps all around so I could hardly move.
    He left me with nothing—left me sick, and sick of living.

14 “He wove my sins into a rope
    and harnessed me to captivity’s yoke.
    I’m goaded by cruel taskmasters.

15 “The Master piled up my best soldiers in a heap,
    then called in thugs to break their fine young necks.
    The Master crushed the life out of fair virgin Judah.

16 “For all this I weep, weep buckets of tears,
    and not a soul within miles around cares for my soul.
    My children are wasted, my enemy got his way.”

17 Zion reached out for help, but no one helped.
    God ordered Jacob’s enemies to surround him,
    and now no one wants anything to do with Jerusalem.

18 God has right on his side. I’m the one who did wrong.
    Listen everybody! Look at what I’m going through!
    My fair young women, my fine young men, all herded into exile!

19 “I called to my friends; they betrayed me.
    My priests and my leaders only looked after themselves,
    trying but failing to save their own skins.

20 “O God, look at the trouble I’m in! My stomach in knots,
    my heart wrecked by a life of rebellion.
    Massacres in the streets, starvation in the houses.

21 “Oh, listen to my groans. No one listens, no one cares.
    When my enemies heard of the trouble you gave me, they cheered.
    Bring on Judgment Day! Let them get what I got!

22 “Take a good look at their evil ways and give it to them!
    Give them what you gave me for my sins.
    Groaning in pain, body and soul, I’ve had all I can take.”

God Walked Away from His Holy Temple

Oh, oh, oh . . . 
How the Master has cut down Daughter Zion
    from the skies, dashed Israel’s glorious city to earth,
    in his anger treated his favorite as throwaway junk.

The Master, without a second thought, took Israel in one gulp.
    Raging, he smashed Judah’s defenses,
    ground her king and princes to a pulp.

His anger blazing, he knocked Israel flat,
    broke Israel’s arm and turned his back just as the enemy approached,
    came on Jacob like a wildfire from every direction.

Like an enemy, he aimed his bow, bared his sword,
    and killed our young men, our pride and joy.
    His anger, like fire, burned down the homes in Zion.

The Master became the enemy. He had Israel for supper.
    He chewed up and spit out all the defenses.
    He left Daughter Judah moaning and groaning.

He plowed up his old trysting place, trashed his favorite rendezvous.
    God wiped out Zion’s memories of feast days and Sabbaths,
    angrily sacked king and priest alike.

God abandoned his altar, walked away from his holy Temple
    and turned the fortifications over to the enemy.
    As they cheered in God’s Temple, you’d have thought it was a feast day!

God drew up plans to tear down the walls of Daughter Zion.
    He assembled his crew, set to work and went at it.
    Total demolition! The stones wept!

Her city gates, iron bars and all, disappeared in the rubble:
    her kings and princes off to exile—no one left to instruct or lead;
    her prophets useless—they neither saw nor heard anything from God.

10 The elders of Daughter Zion sit silent on the ground.
    They throw dust on their heads, dress in rough penitential burlap—
    the young virgins of Jerusalem, their faces creased with the dirt.

11 My eyes are blind with tears, my stomach in a knot.
    My insides have turned to jelly over my people’s fate.
    Babies and children are fainting all over the place,

12 Calling to their mothers, “I’m hungry! I’m thirsty!”
    then fainting like dying soldiers in the streets,
    breathing their last in their mothers’ laps.

13 How can I understand your plight, dear Jerusalem?
    What can I say to give you comfort, dear Zion?
    Who can put you together again? This bust-up is past understanding.

14 Your prophets courted you with sweet talk.
    They didn’t face you with your sin so that you could repent.
    Their sermons were all wishful thinking, deceptive illusions.

15 Astonished, passersby can’t believe what they see.
    They rub their eyes, they shake their heads over Jerusalem.
    Is this the city voted “Most Beautiful” and “Best Place to Live”?

16 But now your enemies gape, slack-jawed.
    Then they rub their hands in glee: “We’ve got them!
    We’ve been waiting for this! Here it is!”

17 God did carry out, item by item, exactly what he said he’d do.
    He always said he’d do this. Now he’s done it—torn the place down.
    He’s let your enemies walk all over you, declared them world champions!

18 Give out heart-cries to the Master, dear repentant Zion.
    Let the tears roll like a river, day and night,
    and keep at it—no time-outs. Keep those tears flowing!

19 As each night watch begins, get up and cry out in prayer.
    Pour your heart out face-to-face with the Master.
    Lift high your hands. Beg for the lives of your children
    who are starving to death out on the streets.

20 “Look at us, God. Think it over. Have you ever treated anyone like this?
    Should women eat their own babies, the very children they raised?
    Should priests and prophets be murdered in the Master’s own Sanctuary?

21 “Boys and old men lie in the gutters of the streets,
    my young men and women killed in their prime.
    Angry, you killed them in cold blood, cut them down without mercy.

22 “You invited, like friends to a party, men to swoop down in attack
    so that on the big day of God’s wrath no one would get away.
    The children I loved and reared—gone, gone, gone.”

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