Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.CHAPTER 4 The Departed Glory and the Cup of Shame
This new lament begins with a description of the former glory of Zion and its present wretchedness; the glory is departed:
How is the gold become dim! The most pure gold changed! The stones of the sanctuary are poured forth at the top of every street. The precious sons of Zion, just like fine gold-- How are they now esteemed like earthen pitchers: the work of the potters’ hands! Even the jackals draw out the breast, giving suck to their young-- The daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness. The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst. The young children ask bread, no man breaketh it unto them. They that did feel delicately are desolate in the streets. They that were brought up in scarlet embrace dung hills.
What degradation and shame! The Lord had called Zion to be like the pure gold, precious and glorious. In his beautiful parable, Ezekiel speaks thus of Jerusalem’s glory: “Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen and silk and broidered work, thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil; and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper in a kingdom” Ezekiel 16:13. The gold is become dim, the pure gold changed. Instead of the linen and silk there is sackcloth and ashes; instead of the flour, the honey, and the oil, there is want and famine. When the golden-glory departed from Zion, then the Lord revealed that Nebuchadnezzar is “the head of gold,” the starting point of the times of the Gentiles. The glory had departed and Zion had to drink of shame and want to the full on account of her sins (Lamentations 4:6). And what a contrast now between what the Nazarites and nobles of the nation were once and what they are now. They were purer than snow, whiter than milk, and now they are blacker than coal. They were ruddy in body; and now their skin cleaveth to their bones. What a horrible transformation sin had wrought! Sin is a robber; sin brings its wages. It robs of glory and gives nothing but suffering, shame and death. All that God had spoken long ago, the very curses generation after generation had read in the book of the law Deuteronomy 28:56-68; Leviticus 26:29, had come upon them. The kings of the earth, the inhabitants of the world, knew that Jerusalem was unconquerable, for the Lord of all the earth was Zion’s King and Lord. What no earthly power could have done, to enter Jerusalem and spoil the city, the Lord had done, “on account of the sins of her prophets, the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her.” Jerusalem was built again. Once more after the seventy years the city was restored, the temple rebuilt. Then the just One came, the Messiah of David, the Lord of Glory. They shed the blood of the just One, and now, as Lamentations 4:14 says, “They wander about blind.”
And Edom! She had rejoiced at Zion’s overthrow, even as Gentiles have despised Israel. But there is judgment in store for the nations, mercy for Israel, when the punishment is accomplished. “He will no more carry thee away into captivity.”