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Getting to Know the Bible: Lamentations Overview

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.

Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on Lamentations. But before we get to Lamentations 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of Lamentations. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.

And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of Lamentations, as we prepare to behold and discern Lamentations, beginning with Lamentations 1 in our next installment of this series.

Book Type: : The third book of the Major Prophets; the twenty-fifth book of the Old Testament

Authors: Jeremiah

Date of Writing: Approximately 586 BC, shortly after the fall of Jerusalem.

Audience: Jews in Babylonian exile who are lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem.

Original Language: Hebrew

Genre: Lament; Poetry

Title: The Hebrew title of the book is 'ekah

Purpose of Writing:

As a result of Judah's continued and unrepentant idolatry, God allowed the Babylonians to besiege, plunder, burn, and destroy the city of Jerusalem. Solomon's Temple, which had stood for approximately 400 years, was burned to the ground. The Prophet Jeremiah, an eyewitness to these events, wrote the Book of Lamentations as a lament for what occurred to Judah and Jerusalem.


The Book of Lamentations is divided into five chapters. Each chapter represents a separate poem. In the original Hebrew, the verses are acrostic, each verse starting with a succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In the Book of Lamentations, the Prophet Jeremiah understands that the Babylonians were God's tool for bringing judgment on Jerusalem (Lamentations 1:12-15; 2:1-8; 4:11). Lamentations makes it clear that sin and rebellion were the causes of God's wrath being poured out (1:8-9; 4:13; 5:16). Lamenting is appropriate in a time of distress, but it should quickly give way to contrition and repentance (Lamentations 3:40-42; 5:21-22).


Lamentations consists of five chapters, with each chapter providing a specific lament. In the first four chapters, each verse begins with sequential letters of the Hebrew alphabet as an aid for memorization. Chapter 1 includes two major parts, the sorrow experienced by the writer (Lamentations 1:1–11) and the sorrow of the city (Lamentations 1:12–22).

Chapter 2 focuses attention on the reasons for the Lord's anger. Lamentations 2:1–9 emphasizes the Lord's destruction without mercy on the city of Jerusalem. Lamentations 2:10–19 shifts to the human perspective of the destruction. The chapter closes with a prayer by the author for the city (Lamentations 2:20–22).

Chapter 3 continues to express grief over the plight of the city's destruction. Consisting of sixty-six verses, each verse begins with consecutive letters of the twenty-two-letter Hebrew alphabet, for a total of three consecutive cycles. The first section emphasizes discouragement, the second section offers hope, while the third section offers words of prayer for the city.

Chapter 4 provides details of God's wrath for two areas. Most of the chapter repeats the theme of the Lord's judgment upon Jerusalem (Lamentations 4:1–20). However, Lamentations 4:21–22 shifts to God's wrath upon Edom.

The final chapter breaks from the pattern of the first four, highlighting the prayers of those who remain. The first emphasis of prayer is that the Lord remembers those who have survived the devastation of Jerusalem (Lamentations 5:1–18). There is recognition that the Lord reigns forever and a prayer for Him tol restore the people to Himself (Lamentations 5:19–22).


Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet for his deep and abiding passion for his people and their city (Lamentations 3:48-49). This same sorrow over the sins of the people and their rejection of God was expressed by Jesus as He approached Jerusalem and looked ahead to her destruction at the hands of the Romans (Luke 19:41-44). Because of the Jews" rejection of their Messiah, God used the Roman siege to punish His people. But God takes no joy in having to punish His children and His offer of Jesus Christ as a provision for sin shows His great compassion on His people. One day, because of Christ, God will wipe away all tears (Revelation 7:17).


Even in terrible judgment, God is a God of hope (Lamentations 3:24-25). No matter how far we have gone from Him, we have the hope that we can return to Him and find Him compassionate and forgiving (1 John 1:9). Our God is a loving God (Lamentations 3:22), and because of His great love and compassion, He sent His Son so that we would not perish in our sins, but can live eternally with Him (John 3:16). God's faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23) and deliverance (Lamentations 3:26) are attributes that give us great hope and comfort. He is not a disinterested, capricious god, but a God who will deliver all those who turn to Him, admit they can do nothing to earn His favor, and call upon the Lord's mercy so that we will not be consumed (Lamentations 3:22).

Key Verses (ESV):

Lamentations 2:17, "The LORD has done what he planned; he has fulfilled his word, which he decreed long ago. He has overthrown you without pity, he has let the enemy gloat over you, he has exalted the horn of your foes."

Lamentations 3:22-23, "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

Lamentations 5:19-22, "You, O LORD, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation. Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long? Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may return; renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure."

*Note: Because of its subject matter, the book is also referred to in Jewish tradition as qinot, Lamentations, a title taken over by the Septuagint (the pre-Christian Greek translation of the OT) and by the fourth-century Latin Vulgate.

The original name of the book in Hebrew, ekah, can be translated Alas! or How, giving the sense of weeping or lamenting over some sad event.1 Later readers and translators substituted in the title Lamentations because of its clearer and more evocative meaning. It’s this idea of lamenting that, for many, links Jeremiah to the book. Not only does the author of the book witness the results of the recent destruction of Jerusalem, he seems to have witnessed the invasion itself (Lamentations 1:13–15). Jeremiah was present for both events.

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.

Love you much.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!

-Humble Servant

P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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