37 Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well-being proceed? 39 Why should a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?” (Lamentations 3:37–39, NKJV)
Jeremiah’s Lamentations may seem an unlikely place to teach respect for God’s silence, but this passage powerfully describes the futility and falsity of speaking when the Lord has not spoken. God had brought His righteous wrath upon Jerusalem to punish her sins (Lam. 1:3-5, 8-11; 2:1-8). He announced judgment against Zion and brought it to pass at the hands of the Babylonian army. Many false prophets said Jerusalem would not fall, but its fall showed they spoke when the Lord had not commanded it (cf. Jer. 28; 2 Chron. 36:15-21). They preached a message of “peace, peace” when there was no peace, only impending doom (Jer. 6:13-15). We have no right to complain against God when He punishes our sins according to His word (v. 39). Both “woe and well-being proceed” from Him, not us. We must submit to His word humbly and faithfully. Jerusalem and Judah refused to do that, and the Lord punished them. In the New Testament, honoring the silence of the Scriptures (of God) is not going beyond what is written but instead, abiding in Christ’s doctrine (1 Cor. 4:6; 2 Jno. 9). We must follow what the Scriptures say, not speak where God has not spoken. To teach and practice things God’s word does not speak of will not have God’s approval, but is a transgression of the doctrine of Christ. Let us speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent.
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. 26 It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth. (Lamentations 3:25–27, NKJV)
Jeremiah ponders the goodness of God’s mercies, compassion, and faithfulness in the midst of the overwhelming sorrow of Jerusalem’s demise (due to her sins against the Lord, Lam. 3:22-24; 1:1-5). When sorrow comes into our lives, hope waits and seeks the Lord (v. 25). When we put our trust in the Lord and His sovereign will, He will send His salvation (v. 26). Youthful vigor must overcome impatience that burdens can aggravate and intensify (v. 27). God’s goodness will not overlook sin (as His punishment against Jerusalem shows). But, when we will abandon our sin and turn to the Lord, He will abundantly pardon (Isa. 55:7). The gospel of Christ explains how to receive His salvation (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-41; 3:19). God is good, and it is good for us to hope in Him, to wait quietly for His salvation, and to bear our burdens (Matt. 11:28-30).
22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:22–24, NKJV)
The army of Babylon destroyed Jerusalem with horrific proficiency (1 Kings 25:1-21; 2 Chronicles 36:11-21; Lamentations 2). By this drastic action, God punished His rebellious people. Yet, He did not completely destroy the nation (Jeremiah 5:18). He remained true to His justice, mercy and faithfulness. After seventy years of exile, a remnant of Israel returned to their land (Jeremiah 29:10-14; Ezra 1). As Jeremiah lamented over Jerusalem, his hope was renewed as he remembered the great faithfulness of the Lord. Instead of pridefully trusting in the power of a nation, the pleasures of sin and the wisdom of oneself, our hope must be set on God. He is the Giver and Sustainer of life, and our only hope of salvation. Even in the darkest hour, our faith is secure in Him. He comforts the faithful with these words: “‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6). God accomplishes His word; Great is His faithfulness! Remain faithful to Him today, and every day.
15 The joy of our heart has ceased; Our dance has turned into mourning. 16 The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned!… 21 Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored; Renew our days as of old, 22 unless You have utterly rejected us, and are very angry with us! (Lamentations 5:15-16, 21-22, NKJV)
The Lamentations is a woeful, sorrowful book; the funeral dirge of Jerusalem, afflicted by the Lord “because of the multitude of her transgressions” (Lam. 1:5). No longer did she take joy in her sinful excesses. Now, all that remained was the painful sorrow and shame of sin. Yet, the Lord would turn their tragedy into triumph. He had not utterly rejected them in His anger. His mercy would reclaim a remnant and return them from Babylonian exile. He had even greater plans than that, for out of the remnant He would bring the “Root of Jesse” (Christ Jesus) and raise Him up as an banner for all to rally around for redemption (Isa. 11:10). Is there sin in your life? If so, acknowledge your sin with a repentant heart, repudiate it and turn back to the Lord. He will redeem your soul and refresh you with the joy of salvation (Acts 3:19).