Lamentations 3:37-5:22Contemporary English Version (CEV)
37 No one can do anything without the Lord’s approval. 38 Good and bad each happen at the command of God Most High. 39 We’re still alive! We shouldn’t complain when we are being punished for our sins. 40 Instead, we should think about the way we are living, and turn back to the Lord.
41 When we lift our hands in prayer to God in heaven, we should offer him our hearts and say, 42 “We’ve sinned! We’ve rebelled against you, and you haven’t forgiven us! 43 Anger is written all over you, as you pursue and slaughter us without showing pity. 44 You are behind a wall of clouds that blocks out our prayers. 45 You allowed nations to treat us like garbage; 46 our enemies curse us. 47 We are terrified and trapped, caught and crushed.”
48 My people are destroyed! Tears flood my eyes, 49 and they won’t stop 50 until the Lord looks down from heaven and helps. 51 I am horrified when I see what enemies have done to the young women of our city.
52 No one had reason to hate me, but I was hunted down like a bird. 53 Then they tried to kill me by tossing me into a pit and throwing stones at me. 54 Water covered my head— I thought I was gone.
55 From the bottom of the pit, I prayed to you, Lord. 56 I begged you to listen. “Help!” I shouted. “Save me!” You answered my prayer 57 and came when I was in need. You told me, “Don’t worry!” 58 You rescued me and saved my life. 59 You saw them abuse me, Lord, so make things right. 60 You know every plot they have made against me. 61 Yes, you know their insults and their evil plans. 62 All day long they attack with words and whispers. 63 No matter what they are doing, they keep on mocking me.
64 Pay them back for everything they have done, Lord! 65 Put your curse on them and make them suffer.[a] 66 Get angry and go after them until not a trace is left under the heavens.
The Punishment of Jerusalem
The Prophet Speaks:
4 The purest gold is ruined and has lost its shine; jewels from the temple lie scattered in the streets. 2 These are Zion’s people, worth more than purest gold; yet they are counted worthless like dishes of clay.
3 Even jackals[b] nurse their young, but my people are like ostriches that abandon their own. 4 Babies are so thirsty that their tongues are stuck to the roof of the mouth. Children go begging for food, but no one gives them any. 5 All who ate expensive foods lie starving in the streets; those who grew up in luxury now sit on trash heaps.
6 My nation was punished worse than the people of Sodom, whose city was destroyed in a flash without the help of human hands.[c] 7 The leaders of Jerusalem were purer than snow and whiter than milk; their bodies were healthy and glowed like jewels.[d] 8 Now they are blacker than tar, and no one recognizes them; their skin clings to their bones and is drier than firewood. 9 Being killed with a sword is better than slowly starving to death. 10 Life in the city is so bad that loving mothers have boiled and eaten their own children.
11 The Lord was so fiercely angry that he burned the city of Zion to the ground. 12 Not a king on this earth or the people of any nation believed enemies could break through her gates.
13 Jerusalem was punished because her prophets and her priests had sinned and caused the death of innocent victims. 14 Yes, her prophets and priests were covered with blood; no one would come near them, as they wandered from street to street. 15 Instead, everyone shouted, “Go away! Don’t touch us! You’re filthy and unfit to belong to God’s people!”
So they had to leave and become refugees. But foreign nations told them, “You can’t stay here!”[e] 16 The Lord is the one who sent them scattering, and he has forgotten them. No respect or kindness will be shown to the priests or leaders. 17 Our eyes became weary, hopelessly looking for help from a nation[f] that could not save us. 18 Enemies hunted us down on every public street. Our time was up; our doom was near. 19 They swooped down faster than eagles from the sky. They hunted for us in the hills and set traps to catch us out in the desert. 20 The Lord’s chosen leader[g] was our hope for survival! We thought he would keep us safe somewhere among the nations, but even he was caught in one of their traps.
21 You people of Edom can celebrate now! But your time will come to suffer and stagger around naked. 22 The people of Zion have paid for their sins, and the Lord will soon let them return home. But, people of Edom, you will be punished, and your sins exposed.
5 Our Lord, don’t forget how we have suffered and been disgraced. 2 Foreigners and strangers have taken our land and our homes. 3 We are like children whose mothers are widows. 4 The water we drink and the wood we burn cost far too much. 5 We are terribly mistreated;[i] we are worn out and can find no rest. 6 We had to surrender to[j] Egypt and Assyria because we were hungry.
7 Our ancestors sinned, but they are dead, and we are left to pay for their sins. 8 Slaves are now our rulers, and there is no one to set us free. 9 We are in danger from brutal desert tribes; we must risk our lives just to bring in our crops.[k] 10 Our skin is scorched from fever and hunger.
11 On Zion and everywhere in Judah our wives and daughters are being raped. 12 Our rulers are strung up by their arms, and our nation’s advisors are treated shamefully. 13 Young men are forced to do the work of slaves; boys must carry heavy loads of wood. 14 Our leaders are not allowed to decide cases in court, and young people no longer play music.
15 Our hearts are sad; instead of dancing, we mourn. 16 Zion’s glory has disappeared! And we are doomed because of our sins. 17 We feel sick all over and can’t even see straight; 18 our city is in ruins, overrun by wild dogs.
19 You will rule forever, Lord! You are King for all time. 20 Why have you forgotten us for so long? 21 Bring us back to you! Give us a fresh start. 22 Or do you despise us so much that you don’t want us?
3.65make them suffer: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
4.3jackals: Desert animals related to wolves, but smaller.
4.6hands: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 6.
4.7jewels: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 7.
4.15here: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 15.
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