Lam 5.1-22 tells us about the many afflictions and problems facing the Jewish people by Babylon. In a spiritual sense, “Babylon” is still doing this with God’s people. Judah should have listened before all this calamity came upon them. This chapter does utilize the Hebrew alphabet again in an acrostic form as in the previous chapters. The exiles pray that Yehovah will show them favor once again and bless them.
v 1…Remember (zakar), O Lord (Yehovah), what has befallen us (the evils, the ruin as a nation); look, and see our reproach (disgrace).
v 2…Our inheritance (the land, property, houses, etc.) has been turned over to strangers (zarim), our houses to aliens (nakrim or foreigners).
v 3…We have become orphans without a father, our mothers are like widows (many men have died).
v 4…We have to pay for our drinking water (but it was rightfully theirs), our wood comes to us at a price (they had to buy their necessities from their victors).
v 5…Our pursuers are at our necks (continually in bondage), we are worn out, there is no rest for us (like in Egypt).
v 6…We have submitted to Egypt and Assyria to get enough bread.
v 7…Our fathers sinned, and are no more; it is we who have borne their iniquities (this is not saying they were innocent, they were guilty, too, because they followed their fathers sins and were as guilty).
v 8…Slaves rule over us (the Chaldean servants had power and authority over them); there is no one to deliver us from their hand (they went from “head to tail”-Deut 28.13).
v 9…We get our bread at the risk of our lives because of the sword in the wilderness (this refers to the gathering of a scanty harvest in a country devastated by war in spite of predatory Bedouins – Deut 28.28).
v 10…Our skin has become as hot as an oven (fever produced by hunger), because of the burning heat of famine.
v 11…They ravished the women in Zion, the virgins in the cities of Judah.
v 12…Princes were hung (suspended) by their hands (tortured); elders were not respected (mocked).
v 13…Young men worked at the grinding mill (the hand-mill was carried from one place to another to grind, and it was heavy); and youths stumbled under loads of wood (for a fire to bake bread for the Chaldean soldiers).
v 14…Elders are gone from the gate (no assembly, no public meetings). Young men from their music (no entertainment).
v 15…The joy of our hearts has ceased, our dancing has turned into mourning (joy is gone-Psa 137.1-4).
v 16…The crown (the honorable position of the people) has fallen from our head (glory has departed); woe to us, for we have sinned.
v 17…Because of this our heart is faint (sick); because of these things our eyes are dim (sorrow expressed in tears).
v 18…Because of Mount Zion (where the Temple stood) which lies desolate, foxes prowl in it (because it is in ruins).
v 19…Thou, O Lord (Yehovah), dost rule (remain) forever; thy throne (in heaven) is from generation to generation (even if his earthly throne was thrown down-they were finally forced to acknowledge this).
v 20…Why dost thou forget us forever; why dost thou forsake us so long (this is stated as a possibility, but in reality it would never happen)?
v 21…restore us to thee, O Lord, that we may be restored; renew our days as of old (to enjoy the same peace and good things as in the past),
v 22…unless thou hast utterly rejected us, and are exceedingly angry with us (but that is not the case, this prayer for mercy is the assurance that hope was alive in the middle of affliction, and they will trust in Yehovah’s mercy according to his promises, and it was a sure thing).