|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:10-22 Causes for lamentation are described. Multitudes perished by famine. Even little children were slain by their mother's hands, and eaten, according to the threatening, De 28:53. Multitudes fell by the sword. Their false prophets deceived them. And their neighbours laughed at them. It is a great sin to jest at others' miseries, and adds much affliction to the afflicted. Their enemies triumphed over them. The enemies of the church are apt to take its shocks for its ruins; but they will find themselves deceived. Calls to lamentation are given; and comforts for the cure of these lamentations are sought. Prayer is a salve for every sore, even the sorest; a remedy for every malady, even the most grievous. Our business in prayer is to refer our case to the Lord, and leave it with him. His will be done. Let us fear God, and walk humbly before him, and take heed lest we fall.
Verse 19. - In the beginning of the watches. This would seem to be most naturally explained as referring to the first watch of the night. When most are wrapped in their first and sweetest sleep, the daughter of Zion is to "arise and cry." Others explain, "at the beginning of each of the night watches;" i.e. all the night through. Previously to the Roman times, the Jews had divided the night into three watches (comp. Judges 3:19). Pour out thine heart like water; i.e. give free course to thy complaint, shedding tears meanwhile. The expression is parallel partly to phrases like "I am poured out like water" (Psalm 22:14), partly to "Pour out your heart before him" (Psalm 62:8). In the top of every street; rather, at every street corner (and so Lamentations 4:1).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Arise, cry out in the night,.... That is, O daughter of Zion, or congregation of Israel, as the Targum; who are addressed and called upon by the prophet to arise from their beds, and shake off their sleep, and sloth, and stupidity, and cry to God in the night season; and be earnest and importunate with him for help and assistance. Aben Ezra rightly observes, that the word used signifies a lifting up of the voice both in singing and in lamentation; here it is used in the latter sense; and denotes great vehemency and earnestness in crying unto God, arising from deep distress and sorrow, which prevents sleep:
in the beginning of the watches; either at the first of them; so Broughton renders it, "at the first watch"; which began at the time of going to bed: or at the beginning of each of them; for with the ancient Jews there were three of them; in later times four: or in the beginning of the morning watch, as the Targum; very early in the morning, before sun rising; as they are called upon to pray late at night, so betimes in the mottling:
pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord; use the utmost freedom with him; tell him, in the fullest manner, thy whole case, fit thy complaints; unbosom thyself to him; keep nothing from him; speak out freely all lily soul needs; do all this publicly, and in the most affectionate way and manner, thy soul melted in floods of tears, under a sense of sin, and pressing evils for it. The Targum is,
"pour out as water the perverseness of thine heart, and return by repentance, and pray in the house of the congregation (or synagogue) before the face of the Lord:''
lift up thine hands towards him; in prayer, as the Targum adds; for this is a prayer gesture, as in Lamentations 3:41;
for the life of thy young children that faint for hunger in the top of every street; pray for them, that they might have food and sustenance, to preserve them alive; who, for want of it, were ready to swoon and die the public streets; in the top of them, where they met, and where was the greatest concourse of people, and yet none able to relieve them.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
19. cry … in … night—(Ps 119:147).
beginning of … watches—that is, the first of the three equal divisions (four hours each) into which the ancient Jews divided the night; namely, from sunset to ten o'clock. The second was called "the middle watch" (Jud 7:19), from ten till two o'clock. The third, "the morning watch," from two to sunrise (Ex 14:24; 1Sa 11:11). Afterwards, under the Romans, they had four watches (Mt 14:25; Lu 12:38).
for … thy … children—that God, if He will not spare thee, may at least preserve "thy young children."
top of … street—(Isa 51:20; Na 3:10).
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