Title: “Lamentations” means “weeping.” To understand the feeling of this word, imagine someone wailing uncontrollably over a loss that cannot be recovered. The “lamentation” under consideration is over the destruction of Jerusalem (Lamentations 1:1; 5:22).
Background: Although no author is named in the book, the prophet Jeremiah has been traditionally identified as the writer of Lamentations. This is based upon the following considerations: (1) Jeremiah was known as a composer of laments [2nd Chronicles 35:25]. (2) Jeremiah was the prophet who mourned, “Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” [see Jeremiah 9:1]. (3) In 3:1, the author seems to identify himself with Jeremiah when he says, “I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath.” (4) There are many linguistic similarities between Lamentations & Jeremiah.
The five chapters of Lamentations are five poems with chapter 3 as the midpoint. The first two chapters build, or crescendo, to the climax, in 3:23,24: “Great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion.” The last two chapters are a “descent” from the pinnacle of chapter 3.
In this book, Jeremiah expresses his grief over the tragedy that had unfolded before his eyes: Jerusalem had fallen to the Babylonians. Jeremiah’s sorrow & tears were not for his own personal loss, however, but for the sinfulness of the Israelites. The people of Israel had chosen to reject God. Yet, even in this time of suffering there was hope. The Lord would not discipline His people forever; He would eventually restore those who waited on Him.
I. Grief after the destruction of Jerusalem (1:1-22)
II. Personal suffering after the destruction of Jerusalem (2:1-22)
III. Hope in the face of adversity (3:1-66)
IV. The pain of the destruction of Jerusalem (4:1-22)
V. Remembering that God still reigns (5:1-22)