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Lamentations

Lamentations 1 Summary Verse 1

May the Lord bless you with this Lamentations 1 Summary of verse 1.

The book of Lamentations is a Hebrew poem of five chapters and 154 verses (seven units of twenty-two verses each corresponding to the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet) in which the author – Jeremiah the Prophet – pours out his sorrow to the Lord over the destruction of his nation’s capital city, Jerusalem.

In the first verse of Lamentations 1, Jeremiah describes Jerusalem’s humiliating descent from:

  1. Fullness to emptiness
  2. Prominence to widowhood
  3. Ruling to being ruled

Let’s see how this plays out in the first verse of Lamentations 1.

KJV Lamentations 1:1 ¶ How doth the city sit solitary,
that was full of people!

how is she become as a widow!
she that was great among the nations,

and princess among the provinces,
how is she become tributary!

From Fulness to Emptiness

1:1 ¶ How {doth the city sit solitary/lonely sits the city/deserted lies the city},
{that was/once so} full of people! {i.e., Alas! The city once full of people now sits all alone!}

Jeremiah begins by marveling. He says, “How…!”

He’s not asking a question. He is lamenting. He is marveling with great grief. He is pouring out his heart to the Lord in his great amazed sorrow.

And what he first wants to focus on is the fact that Jerusalem went from the status of being full of people to being solitary or lonely or deserted or empty.

Think about all that Jerusalem has experienced in its long history. Think of the Temple that it once housed. Think of the celebrations that were held several times each year. It was a hub of activity. And that activity was religiously-significant. It was all centered on the worship of the true God who created everything.

But now, Jeremiah looks and none of that is happening anymore. Jerusalem has gone from the bustling hub of true religion to an empty shell of its former self. It’s gone from fulness to emptiness.

From Prominence to Widowhood

Furthermore, Jeremiah laments that Jerusalem has gone from prominence to widowhood.

{how is she become/she has become} {as/like} a widow!
{she that was great/the prominent lady/who was once great} among the nations,

Jerusalem had seen the reigns of king David and king Solomon. The kingdom stretched from Egypt in the west out east to include numerous territories that were submissive and subservient to the nation of Israel.

But all of that had changed. Now, instead of being great and prominent among the nations of the world, Israel and its capital city of Jerusalem had become like a widow – unimportant in the sight of everyone. The city was now disregarded and forgotten and insignificant in the eyes of the world.

From Ruling to Being Ruled

And lastly in the first verse of Lamentations 1, Jeremiah grieves over the fact that Jerusalem had gone from a refined ruling over others to being ruled over herself.

{and princess among/She who was a princess among/The princess who once ruled/She who was queen among} the provinces,
{how is she become tributary/Has become a forced laborer/has not become a slave}!

Jerusalem is pictured as a princess or queen – one who rules and does so in a refined and dignified manner. The emphasis is maybe not so much that she was feared as she was treasured and honored.

But now she had become a slave.

She ruled over others in an honorable respectable fashion. But the honor and respect had been stripped away. And now she was a slave – being ruled over by others.

Conclusion

So, that’s how Jeremiah describes Jerusalem’s humiliating descent in the first verse of Lamentations 1. The city had gone from fullness to emptiness, from prominence to widowhood, and from ruling to being ruled.

If the Lord has brought any of these realities into your life, do what Jeremiah did – lament these facts. Talk about them. And talk about them to the Lord. He hears and he cares. He – the one who brings affliction into your life – is the same one who wants to hear from you about the effect that these afflictions have on you. He sometimes needs to bring difficulties – even chastening – into the life of his children. And he does it to draw out our response to himself.

Speak to the Lord about the afflictions he’s put into your life. Note the descent from pleasant to painful in all areas. He will hear you.

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