Lamentations 3-5New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
God’s Steadfast Love Endures
3 I am one who has seen affliction
under the rod of God’s wrath;
2 he has driven and brought me
into darkness without any light;
3 against me alone he turns his hand,
again and again, all day long.
4 He has made my flesh and my skin waste away,
and broken my bones;
5 he has besieged and enveloped me
with bitterness and tribulation;
6 he has made me sit in darkness
like the dead of long ago.
7 He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;
he has put heavy chains on me;
8 though I call and cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer;
9 he has blocked my ways with hewn stones,
he has made my paths crooked.
10 He is a bear lying in wait for me,
a lion in hiding;
11 he led me off my way and tore me to pieces;
he has made me desolate;
12 he bent his bow and set me
as a mark for his arrow.
13 He shot into my vitals
the arrows of his quiver;
14 I have become the laughingstock of all my people,
the object of their taunt-songs all day long.
15 He has filled me with bitterness,
he has sated me with wormwood.
16 He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
and made me cower in ashes;
17 my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
18 so I say, “Gone is my glory,
and all that I had hoped for from the Lord.”
19 The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
is wormwood and gall!
20 My soul continually thinks of it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for one to bear
the yoke in youth,
28 to sit alone in silence
when the Lord has imposed it,
29 to put one’s mouth to the dust
(there may yet be hope),
30 to give one’s cheek to the smiter,
and be filled with insults.
31 For the Lord will not
32 Although he causes grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33 for he does not willingly afflict
or grieve anyone.
34 When all the prisoners of the land
are crushed under foot,
35 when human rights are perverted
in the presence of the Most High,
36 when one’s case is subverted
—does the Lord not see it?
37 Who can command and have it done,
if the Lord has not ordained it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that good and bad come?
39 Why should any who draw breath complain
about the punishment of their sins?
40 Let us test and examine our ways,
and return to the Lord.
41 Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands
to God in heaven.
42 We have transgressed and rebelled,
and you have not forgiven.
43 You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us,
killing without pity;
44 you have wrapped yourself with a cloud
so that no prayer can pass through.
45 You have made us filth and rubbish
among the peoples.
46 All our enemies
have opened their mouths against us;
47 panic and pitfall have come upon us,
devastation and destruction.
48 My eyes flow with rivers of tears
because of the destruction of my people.
49 My eyes will flow without ceasing,
50 until the Lord from heaven
looks down and sees.
51 My eyes cause me grief
at the fate of all the young women in my city.
52 Those who were my enemies without cause
have hunted me like a bird;
53 they flung me alive into a pit
and hurled stones on me;
54 water closed over my head;
I said, “I am lost.”
55 I called on your name, O Lord,
from the depths of the pit;
56 you heard my plea, “Do not close your ear
to my cry for help, but give me relief!”
57 You came near when I called on you;
you said, “Do not fear!”
58 You have taken up my cause, O Lord,
you have redeemed my life.
59 You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord;
judge my cause.
60 You have seen all their malice,
all their plots against me.
61 You have heard their taunts, O Lord,
all their plots against me.
62 The whispers and murmurs of my assailants
are against me all day long.
63 Whether they sit or rise—see,
I am the object of their taunt-songs.
64 Pay them back for their deeds, O Lord,
according to the work of their hands!
65 Give them anguish of heart;
your curse be on them!
66 Pursue them in anger and destroy them
from under the Lord’s heavens.
The Punishment of Zion
4 How the gold has grown dim,
how the pure gold is changed!
The sacred stones lie scattered
at the head of every street.
2 The precious children of Zion,
worth their weight in fine gold—
how they are reckoned as earthen pots,
the work of a potter’s hands!
3 Even the jackals offer the breast
and nurse their young,
but my people has become cruel,
like the ostriches in the wilderness.
4 The tongue of the infant sticks
to the roof of its mouth for thirst;
the children beg for food,
but no one gives them anything.
5 Those who feasted on delicacies
perish in the streets;
those who were brought up in purple
cling to ash heaps.
6 For the chastisement of my people has been greater
than the punishment of Sodom,
which was overthrown in a moment,
though no hand was laid on it.
7 Her princes were purer than snow,
whiter than milk;
their bodies were more ruddy than coral,
their hair like sapphire.
8 Now their visage is blacker than soot;
they are not recognized in the streets.
Their skin has shriveled on their bones;
it has become as dry as wood.
9 Happier were those pierced by the sword
than those pierced by hunger,
whose life drains away, deprived
of the produce of the field.
10 The hands of compassionate women
have boiled their own children;
they became their food
in the destruction of my people.
11 The Lord gave full vent to his wrath;
he poured out his hot anger,
and kindled a fire in Zion
that consumed its foundations.
12 The kings of the earth did not believe,
nor did any of the inhabitants of the world,
that foe or enemy could enter
the gates of Jerusalem.
13 It was for the sins of her prophets
and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed the blood of the righteous
in the midst of her.
14 Blindly they wandered through the streets,
so defiled with blood
that no one was able
to touch their garments.
15 “Away! Unclean!” people shouted at them;
“Away! Away! Do not touch!”
So they became fugitives and wanderers;
it was said among the nations,
“They shall stay here no longer.”
16 The Lord himself has scattered them,
he will regard them no more;
no honor was shown to the priests,
no favor to the elders.
17 Our eyes failed, ever watching
vainly for help;
we were watching eagerly
for a nation that could not save.
18 They dogged our steps
so that we could not walk in our streets;
our end drew near; our days were numbered;
for our end had come.
19 Our pursuers were swifter
than the eagles in the heavens;
they chased us on the mountains,
they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
20 The Lord’s anointed, the breath of our life,
was taken in their pits—
the one of whom we said, “Under his shadow
we shall live among the nations.”
21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter Edom,
you that live in the land of Uz;
but to you also the cup shall pass;
you shall become drunk and strip yourself bare.
22 The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter Zion, is accomplished,
he will keep you in exile no longer;
but your iniquity, O daughter Edom, he will punish,
he will uncover your sins.
A Plea for Mercy
5 Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us;
look, and see our disgrace!
2 Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers,
our homes to aliens.
3 We have become orphans, fatherless;
our mothers are like widows.
4 We must pay for the water we drink;
the wood we get must be bought.
5 With a yoke on our necks we are hard driven;
we are weary, we are given no rest.
6 We have made a pact with Egypt and Assyria,
to get enough bread.
7 Our ancestors sinned; they are no more,
and we bear their iniquities.
8 Slaves rule over us;
there is no one to deliver us from their hand.
9 We get our bread at the peril of our lives,
because of the sword in the wilderness.
10 Our skin is black as an oven
from the scorching heat of famine.
11 Women are raped in Zion,
virgins in the towns of Judah.
12 Princes are hung up by their hands;
no respect is shown to the elders.
13 Young men are compelled to grind,
and boys stagger under loads of wood.
14 The old men have left the city gate,
the young men their music.
15 The joy of our hearts has ceased;
our dancing has been turned to mourning.
16 The crown has fallen from our head;
woe to us, for we have sinned!
17 Because of this our hearts are sick,
because of these things our eyes have grown dim:
18 because of Mount Zion, which lies desolate;
jackals prowl over it.
19 But you, O Lord, reign forever;
your throne endures to all generations.
20 Why have you forgotten us completely?
Why have you forsaken us these many days?
21 Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored;
renew our days as of old—
22 unless you have utterly rejected us,
and are angry with us beyond measure.