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The Lord’s Purposes for Affliction

I am a man familiar with affliction—
    under the rod of God’s[a] anger.
He has led me—brought me
    into darkness, not into light.
He truly turned his hand against me,
    again and again, all day long.

He made my flesh and skin prematurely old;
    he broke my bones.
He laid siege against me,
    surrounding me with bitterness and suffering.
He has forced me to live in darkness,
    like those who are long dead.

He has walled me in so I cannot escape;
    he placed heavy chains on me.
Indeed, when I cry out, calling for help,
    he shuts out my prayer.
He impeded my way with blocks of stone,
    making my paths uneven.

10 He is like[b] a bear that lies in wait for me,
    a lion in hiding.
11 He forced me off my path,
    tearing me to pieces and making me desolate.
12 He bent his bow,
    aiming at me with his arrow.

13 He caused his war arrows[c]
    to pierce my vital organs.
14 I have become a laughingstock to all my people,
    the object of their taunts throughout the day.
15 He has filled me with bitterness,
    making me drink wormwood.

16 He broke my teeth on gravel,
    covering me with dust.
17 You have removed peace from my life;
    I have forgotten what prosperity is.[d]
18 So I say, “My strength is gone
    as is my hope in the Lord.”

19 Remember my affliction and homelessness—
    wormwood and gall!
20 My mind keeps reflecting on it,
    and I become depressed.[e]
21 This is what comes to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s gracious love we are not consumed,
    since his compassions never end.
23 They are new every morning—
    great is your faithfulness!
24 “The Lord is all I have,”[f] says my soul,
    “Therefore I will trust in him.”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the person who searches for him.
26 It is good to hope and wait patiently
    for the Lord’s salvation.
27 It is good when a young man carries the yoke
    of discipline[g] in his youth.

28 He is to sit apart and remain silent,
    because the Lord[h] has laid it upon him.
29 Let him fall face down in the dust,
    so there may yet be hope.
30 He will endure being slapped in the face,
    bringing him public disgrace.

31 Indeed, the Lord will not always
    reject us[i]
32 though he causes grief,
    his compassion abounds according to his gracious love.
33 For he does not deliberately hurt
    or grieve human beings.
34 When any of the prisoners of the earth
    are crushed underfoot,
35 when a person’s rights are perverted
    in defiance of the Most High.
36 When a man is thwarted in his appeal,
    does the Lord condone[j] it?

37 Who can command, and it happens,
    without the Lord having ordered it?
38 Do not both good and evil things proceed
    from the mouth of the Most High?
39 Why should anyone living complain,
    any mortal, about being punished for sin?

40 Let us examine our lifestyles,
    putting them to the test,
        and turn back to the Lord.
41 Let us lift up our hearts
    and our hands
        to God in heaven.
42 As for us, we have sinned and rebelled;
    but you have not pardoned us.[k]
43 Clothing yourself with anger, you pursued us.
    You killed without pity,
44 You covered yourself with a cloud
    that prayer cannot pierce.
45 You have reduced us to scum and garbage
    among the nations.

46 All our enemies
    jeer at us with gaping mouths.
47 Panic and pitfalls beset us,
    along with devastation and ruin.
48 My eyes run with rivers of tears
    over the destruction of my cherished[l] people.

49 My tears pour[m] down ceaselessly;
    I am far from relief
50 until the Lord bends down
    to see from heaven.
51 What I see[n] grieves my soul
    because of all the young women[o] of my city.

52 My enemies hunted me like a bird,
    viciously and without justification.
53 They dumped me alive into a pit,
    sealing me in with stone.[p]
54 Water closed over my head,
    and I said, “I’m a dead man.”[q]
55 I called on your name, Lord,
    from the depths of the Pit,[r]
56 You heard my voice—
    don’t close your ear to my sighs and cries.[s]
57 You drew near when I called out to you.
    You said, “Stop being afraid”

58 Lord, you have defended my cause;
    you have redeemed my life.
59 Lord, you observed how I have been wronged;
    now make your ruling in my case.
60 You examined their plans for vengeance,
    all of their plots against me.

61 Lord, you listened to their insults—
    all their plots against me,
62 the whisperings of my opponents,
    their scheming against me all day long.
63 Watch! Whether they sit down or stand up,
    they mock me with their songs.

64 Pay them back, Lord,
    according to their actions.
65 Give them an anguished heart;
    may your curse be upon them!
66 Pursue them in your anger
    and destroy them from under the Lord’s heaven.

Footnotes

  1. Lamentations 3:1 Lit. his
  2. Lamentations 3:10 The Heb. lacks like
  3. Lamentations 3:13 Lit. caused the sons of his arrows
  4. Lamentations 3:17 Lit. forgotten prosperity
  5. Lamentations 3:20 Lit. and sinks within me
  6. Lamentations 3:24 Lit. is my portion
  7. Lamentations 3:27 The Heb. lacks of discipline
  8. Lamentations 3:28 Lit. because he
  9. Lamentations 3:31 The Heb. lacks us
  10. Lamentations 3:36 Lit. see
  11. Lamentations 3:42 The Heb. lacks us
  12. Lamentations 3:48 Lit. of the daughter of
  13. Lamentations 3:49 Lit. My eye pours
  14. Lamentations 3:51 Lit. My eye
  15. Lamentations 3:51 Lit. the daughters
  16. Lamentations 3:53 Lit. pit, casting a stone at me
  17. Lamentations 3:54 Lit. “I’m cut off.”
  18. Lamentations 3:55 I.e. the place of punishment in the afterlife
  19. Lamentations 3:56 Lit. my relief, to my cry

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