How lonely sits the city That was full of people! She has become like a widow Who was once great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces Has become a forced laborer!Lamentations 1:1(NASB)
Lamentations can be described as the continuing narrative of the book of Jeremiah, where for 51 chapters, the prophet predicted Jerusalem's downfall, while the 52nd chapter records the terrible defeat of the holy City - when Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty king of Babylon, burned the city and the sanctuary.
The Chaldeans laid siege to Jerusalem for many years and defeated Zedekiah, the ungodly king of Israel who did evil in the sight of the Lord. He burned the glorious Temple of God with fire, together with the king's palaces and all the houses of Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar killed Israel's princes, blinded the king with a hot poker, and took away the beautiful pots and shovels, the snuffers and basins, and all the pans and bronze vessels used in the Temple service.
Jeremiah is often called 'the weeping prophet' for he warned, witnessed, and wept over the terrible destruction of the Sanctuary of God and the City of David. And in the book of Lamentations, this distraught prophet wrote 5 lengthy chapters bemoaning the terrible events that took place when Jerusalem was made desolate and the Temple was burned to the ground.
"How lonely sits the city that was full of people!" are the opening words of Jeremiah's deep and bitter lament. "She has become like a widow. She who was once great among the nations and was a princess among the provinces has become a forced labourer."
In his earlier writing, Jeremiah had described how the Lord would cause the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness to cease from the cities of Judah. He warned that unless they repented of their sin, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride would be silenced and the land would become desolate.
Jeremiah bemoaned that the once busy and bustling city had become like a bereaved widow or a princess that had been reduced to becoming a slave. The daughters of Israel had been taken into captivity, her sons had been mercilessly marched away as Babylonian slaves, and the annual pilgrimage of joyful Jews to the Holy City had been silenced.
Jeremiah opened his book of Lamentation with tears of grief that the Temple had become a burned-out ruin. The bronze pillars had been broken in pieces and taken to Babylon, together with the precious vessels of the Temple by these blood-thirsty pagans.
Having witnessed and warned of the shocking events that must overtake the nation that rejected their God, the grieving prophet bewails the fulfilment of his long-rejected prophetic utterings in the five chapters of Lamentations and begins his long lament with the word, "How lonely sits the city that was full of people! She has become like a widow who was once great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a forced labourer!"
Heavenly Father, as I read through the prophetic voice of Jeremiah and his lament over Jerusalem, I am able to have a glimpse into the terrible events that overtook Your chosen people who chose to follow the path of spiritual adultery, rather than obeying Your commands and trusting Your Word. Help me learn the lessons from Israel’s failure and trust Your Word, obey Your voice, and walk in spirit and truth. Thank You that You have told us the end from the beginning and that in Your wrath You will remember mercy. I look forward to that coming day when Israel will repent of their sins and be restored as a nation. But I also pray that many would recognise Jesus as their Saviour and come to faith in Him today. In Jesus' name, AMEN.