August 3, 2021
"My transgressions have been formed into a yoke, fastened together by His hand; they have been placed upon my neck..."
“My transgressions have been formed into a yoke, fastened together by His hand; they have been placed upon my neck, and the Lord has broken my strength. He has handed me over to those I cannot withstand.” Lamentations 1:14
In this opening elegy, two voices are heard; the first is that of the poet (1-11), and the second is that of stricken Jerusalem (12-22). To arouse sympathy, Jerusalem is personified. She is represented as a widow to indicate her loneliness. The city is alone, not because she is isolated among the hills, but because her streets are silent and houses empty; the “widow” has been robbed of her children. The “princess among the provinces” is now a maidservant.
Jerusalem weeps bitter tears in the night. Her “lovers,” her former allies among the nations and their pagan gods, have proven faithless and become her enemies. Jerusalem is a sad metaphor for what happens to all who depart from God’s Word and set out on their own, seeking to establish for themselves that which only God can provide.
So precisely instructive are the lessons of “Lamentations” that every chapter has 22 lines, corresponding with the 22-letter Hebrew alphabet. Chances are, even your own Bible has the Hebrew letters above every stanza. The idea is that when Jewish children were learning to spell, as part of their curriculum, they would memorize the book of Lamentations. Every Hebrew letter, then, became a reminder of the consequences of sin. We learn: “A” is for “Apple.” They would learn: “Alef” is for “How she sits alone, the city once crowded with people! She who was great among the nations has become like a widow. The princess among the provinces has become a slave.”
Getting to today’s (above) passage, it is with THAT knowledge, the fact that EVERY Hebrew learned to read by the primer of Lamentations, that we can better understand the gravity that Jesus’ words would have had upon the hearers of His day. They would have known the book of Lamentations by memory; thus, they were completely aware of what Jesus meant when He said:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Place My yoke upon you and learn from Me because I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
As with Israel’s need for restoration, the United States (and the entire world for that matter) is in disrepair and in dire need to be repaired to God through Messiah Jesus. True to chapter 5, Messiah came to establish restoration. Are you suffering under the heavy hand of God’s rebuke of your sin? Do not rebel against Him! (Hebrews 3:8-19) It didn’t work the first time, and it will never work out well, in the end, for those who depart from His instruction. Surrender your will to Him and let Him lead you to that place of rest.