21The Lord in his anger has covered Zion with darkness.
Its heavenly splendour he has turned into ruins.
On the day of his anger he abandoned even his Temple.
2The Lord destroyed without mercy every village in Judah
And tore down the forts that defended the land.
He brought disgrace on the kingdom and its rulers.
3In his fury he shattered the strength of Israel;
He refused to help us when the enemy came.
He raged against us like fire, destroying everything.
4He aimed his arrows at us like an enemy;
He killed all those who were our joy and delight.
Here in Jerusalem we felt his burning anger.
5Like an enemy, the Lord has destroyed Israel;
He has left her forts and palaces in ruins.
He has brought on the people of Judah unending sorrow.
6He smashed to pieces the Temple where we worshipped him;
He has put an end to holy days and Sabbaths.
King and priest alike have felt the force of his anger.
7The Lord rejected his altar and deserted his holy Temple;
He allowed the enemy to tear down its walls.
They shouted in victory where once we had worshipped in joy.
8The LORD was determined that the walls of Zion should fall;
He measured them off to make sure of total destruction.
The towers and walls now lie in ruins together.
9The gates lie buried in rubble, their bars smashed to pieces.
The king and the noblemen now are in exile.
The Law is no longer taught, and the prophets have no visions from the LORD.
10Jerusalem's old men sit on the ground in silence,
With dust on their heads and sackcloth on their bodies.
Young women bow their heads to the ground.
11My eyes are worn out with weeping; my soul is in anguish.
I am exhausted with grief at the destruction of my people.
Children and babies are fainting in the streets of the city.
12Hungry and thirsty, they cry to their mothers;
They fall in the streets as though they were wounded,
And slowly die in their mothers' arms.
13O Jerusalem, beloved Jerusalem, what can I say?
How can I comfort you? No one has ever suffered like this.
Your disaster is boundless as the ocean; there is no possible hope.
14Your prophets had nothing to tell you but lies;
Their preaching deceived you by never exposing your sin.
They made you think you did not need to repent.
15People passing by the city look at you in scorn.
They shake their heads and laugh at the ruins of Jerusalem.
“Is this that lovely city? Is this the pride of the world?”
16All your enemies mock you and glare at you with hate.
They curl their lips and sneer, “We have destroyed it!
This is the day we have waited for!”
17The LORD has finally done what he threatened to do:
He has destroyed us without mercy, as he warned us long ago.
He gave our enemies victory, gave them joy at our downfall.
18O Jerusalem, let your very walls cry out to the Lord!2.18 Probable text O Jerusalem… Lord; Hebrew Their hearts cried out to the Lord, O wall of Jerusalem.
Let your tears flow like rivers night and day;
Wear yourself out with weeping and grief!
19All through the night get up again and again to cry out to the Lord;
Pour out your heart and beg him for mercy on your children —
Children starving to death on every street corner!
20Look, O LORD! Why are you punishing us like this?
Women are eating the bodies of the children they loved!
Priests and prophets are being killed in the Temple itself!
21Young and old alike lie dead in the streets,
Young men and women, killed by enemy swords.
You slaughtered them without mercy on the day of your anger.
22You invited my enemies to hold a carnival of terror all round me,
And no one could escape on that day of your anger.
They murdered my children, whom I had reared and loved.
31I am one who knows what it is to be punished by God.
2He drove me deeper and deeper into darkness
3And beat me again and again with merciless blows.
4He has left my flesh open and raw, and has broken my bones.
5He has shut me in a prison of misery and anguish.
6He has forced me to live in the stagnant darkness of death.
7He has bound me in chains; I am a prisoner with no hope of escape.
8I cry aloud for help, but God refuses to listen;
9I stagger as I walk; stone walls block me wherever I turn.
10He waited for me like a bear; he pounced on me like a lion.
11He chased me off the road, tore me to pieces, and left me.
12He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows.
13He shot his arrows deep into my body.
14People laugh at me all day long; I am a joke to them all.
15Bitter suffering is all he has given me for food and drink.
16He rubbed my face in the ground and broke my teeth on the gravel.
17I have forgotten what health and peace and happiness are.
18I have not much longer to live; my hope in the LORD is gone.
19The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison;
20I think of it constantly and my spirit is depressed.
21Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing:
22The LORD's unfailing love and mercy still continue,
23Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.
24The LORD is all I have, and so I put my hope in him.
25The LORD is good to everyone who trusts in him,
26So it is best for us to wait in patience — to wait for him to save us —
27And it is best to learn this patience in our youth.
28When we suffer, we should sit alone in silent patience;
29We should bow in submission, for there may still be hope.
30Though beaten and insulted, we should accept it all.
31The Lord is merciful and will not reject us for ever.
32He may bring us sorrow, but his love for us is sure and strong.
33He takes no pleasure in causing us grief or pain.
34The Lord knows when our spirits are crushed in prison;
35He knows when we are denied the rights he gave us;
36When justice is perverted in court, he knows.
37The will of the Lord alone is always carried out.3.37 The will… out; or No one can make anything happen unless the LORD is willing.
38Good and evil alike take place at his command.
39Why should we ever complain when we are punished for our sin?3.39 Why should… sin?; or Why should we complain about being punished for sin, as long as we are still alive?
40Let us examine our ways and turn back to the LORD.
41Let us open our hearts to God in heaven and pray,
42“We have sinned and rebelled, and you, O LORD, have not forgiven us.
43“You pursued us and killed us; your mercy was hidden by your anger,
44By a cloud of fury too thick for our prayers to get through.
45You have made us the refuse heap of the world.
46“We are insulted and mocked by all our enemies.
47We have been through disaster and ruin; we live in danger and fear.
48My eyes flow with rivers of tears at the destruction of my people.
49“My tears will pour out in a ceaseless stream
50Until the LORD looks down from heaven and sees us.
51My heart is grieved when I see what has happened to the women of the city.
52“I was trapped like a bird by enemies who had no cause to hate me.
53They threw me alive into a pit and closed the opening with a stone.
54Water began to close over me, and I thought death was near.
55“From the bottom of the pit, O LORD, I cried out to you,
56And when I begged you to listen to my cry, you heard.
57You answered me and told me not to be afraid.
58“You came to my rescue, Lord, and saved my life.
59Judge in my favour; you know the wrongs done against me.
60You know how my enemies hate me and how they plot against me.
61“You have heard them insult me, O LORD; you know all their plots.
62All day long they talk about me and make their plans.
63From morning till night they jeer at me.
64“Punish them for what they have done, O LORD;
65Curse them and fill them with despair!
66Hunt them down and wipe them off the earth!”
41Our glittering gold has grown dull;
the stones of the Temple lie scattered in the streets.
2Zion's young men were as precious to us as gold,
but now they are treated like common clay pots.
3Even a mother wolf will nurse her cubs,
but my people are like ostriches, cruel to their young.
4They let their babies die of hunger and thirst;
children are begging for food that no one will give them.
5People who once ate the finest foods die starving in the streets;
those raised in luxury are pawing through refuse for food.
My people have been punished even more than the inhabitants of Sodom,
which met with a sudden downfall at the hands of God.
7Our princes4.7 princes; or Nazirites. were undefiled and pure as snow,
vigorous and strong, glowing with health.
8Now they lie unknown in the streets, their faces blackened in death;
their skin, dry as wood, has shrivelled on their bones.
9Those who died in the war were better off than those who died later,
who starved slowly to death, with no food to keep them alive.
The disaster that came to my people brought horror;
loving mothers boiled their own children for food.
11The LORD turned loose the full force of his fury;
he lit a fire in Zion that burnt it to the ground.
12No one anywhere, not even rulers of foreign nations,
believed that any invader could enter Jerusalem's gates.
13But it happened because her prophets sinned and her priests were guilty
of causing the death of innocent people.
14Her leaders wandered through the streets like the blind,
so stained with blood that no one would touch them.
15“Go away!” people shouted. “You're defiled! Don't touch me!”
So they wandered from nation to nation, welcomed by no one.
16The LORD had no more concern for them; he scattered them himself.
He showed no regard for our priests and leaders.
17For help that never came, we looked until we could look no longer.
We kept waiting for help from a nation that had none to give.
18The enemy was watching for us; we could not even walk in the streets.
Our days were over; the end had come.
19Swifter than eagles swooping from the sky, they chased us down.
They tracked us down in the hills; they took us by surprise in the desert.
20They captured the source of our life, the king the LORD had chosen,
the one we had trusted to protect us from every invader.
21Laugh on, people of Edom and Uz; be glad while you can.
Your disaster is coming too; you too will stagger naked in shame.
22Zion has paid for her sin; the LORD will not keep us in exile any longer.
But Edom, the LORD will punish you; he will expose your guilty deeds.