Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Lamentations of Jeremiah, Part III

The favors of the Lord are not exhausted,
   his mercies are not spent;
They are renewed each morning,
   so great is his faithfulness.
My portion is the Lord, says my soul;
   therefore I will hope in him.

Good is the Lord to one who waits for him,
   to the soul that seeks him.
It is good to hope in silence
   for the saving help of the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear
   the yoke of his youth.

Let him sit alone and in silence,
   when it is laid upon him.
Let him put his mouth to the dust;
   there may yet be hope.
Let him offer his cheek to be struck,
   let him be filled with disgrace.

How tarnished is the gold,
   how changed the noble metal;
How the sacred stones lie strewn
   at every street corner.

Zion's precious sons,
   fine gold their counterpart,
Now worth no more than earthen jars
   made by the hands of the potter.

Even the jackals bare their breasts
   and suckle their young;
The daughter of my people has become as cruel
   as the ostrich in the desert.

The tongue of the suckling cleaves
   to the roof of its mouth in thirst;
The babes cry for food
   but there is no one to give it to them.

Those accustomed to dainty food
   perish in the streets;
Those brought up in purple
   now cling to the ash heaps.

The punishment of the daughter of my people
   is greater than the penalty of Sodom,
Which was overthrown in an instant
   without the turning of a hand.

Hear begins the prayer of Jeremiah the prophet:

Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us,
   look, and see our disgrace;
Our inherited lands have been turned over to strangers;
   our homes to foreigners.
We have become orphans, fatherless;
   widowed are our mothers.
The water we drink we must buy,
   for our own wood we must pay.
On our necks is the yoke of those who drive us;
   we are worn out, but allowed no rest.
To Egypt we submitted,
   and to Assyria, to fill our need of bread.
Our fathers, who sinned, are no more,
   but we bear their guild.
Slaves rule over us;
   there is no one to rescue us for their hands.
At the peril of our lives we bring in our sustenance,
   in the face of the desert heart.
Our skin is shriveled up, as though by a furnace
   with the searing blasts of famine.
The wives in Zion are ravished by the enemy,
   the maidens in the cities of Judah.

(from the Book of Lamentations 3:22-30, 4:1-6, 5:1-11)

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