Lamentations 3:27
It is good for a man that he bear the yoke of his youth.
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(27) Bear the yoke in his youth.—The words have been pressed with a strange literalism” in favour of the view that the Lamentations were written in the youth of Jeremiah and on the death of Josiah. It may fairly be contended, on the other hand, that the tone of the maxim is that of one who looks back from the experience of age on the passionate complaints of his earlier years (Jeremiah 15:10; Jeremiah 20:7-18).

Lamentations 3:27-30. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth — That he be inured betimes to bear those useful restraints which may give him a right sense of the duty which he owes to God, and the obedience he ought to pay to his laws. For the prophet’s expression is very applicable to the yoke of God’s commands; it is good for us to take that yoke upon us in our youth; we cannot begin too soon to be religious; it will make our duty the more acceptable to God, and easy to ourselves, if we engage in it when we are young. Here, however, the prophet seems to speak chiefly of the yoke of affliction; many have found it good to bear this yoke in their youth; it has made those humble, and serious, and spiritually minded, who otherwise would have been proud, unruly, and as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. If it be asked, when we bear this yoke so that it is really good for us to bear it? we have the answer in the following verses: 1st, When we are sedate and quiet under our afflictions; when we sit alone and keep silence; retire into privacy that we may converse with God, and commune with our own hearts, silencing all discontented, distrustful thoughts, and laying our hand upon our mouth, as Aaron, who, under a severe trial, held his peace. When those that are afflicted in their youth accommodate themselves to their afflictions, and study to answer God’s end in afflicting them, then they will find it good for them to bear it; for it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby. 2d, When we are humble and patient under affliction; he gets good by the yoke, that not only lays his hand upon his mouth in token of submission to the will of God in the affliction, but puts his mouth in the dust in token of sorrow, shame, and self-loathing at the remembrance of sin, and as one perfectly reduced and reclaimed, and brought, as it were, to lick the dust, Psalm 72:9. And we must thus humble ourselves, if so be there may be hope. If there be any way to acquire and secure a good hope under our afflictions, as, blessed be God, there is, it is this way, and while we look for it we must own ourselves utterly unworthy of Lamentations 2:3 d, When we are meek and gentle toward those that are the instruments of our trouble, and manifest a forgiving spirit. He gets good by the yoke that gives his cheek to him that smiteth him, and rather turns the other cheek, than returns the second blow. He that can bear contempt and reproach, and not render railing for railing, and bitterness for bitterness; that when he is filled with reproach, keeps it to himself, and does not retort it upon them that filled him with it, but pours it out before the Lord, Psalm 123:4; he shall find it good to bear the yoke, and it shall turn to his spiritual advantage. The sum is, if tribulation work patience, that patience will work experience, and that experience a hope that maketh not ashamed.3:21-36 Having stated his distress and temptation, the prophet shows how he was raised above it. Bad as things are, it is owing to the mercy of God that they are not worse. We should observe what makes for us, as well as what is against us. God's compassions fail not; of this we have fresh instances every morning. Portions on earth are perishing things, but God is a portion for ever. It is our duty, and will be our comfort and satisfaction, to hope and quietly to wait for the salvation of the Lord. Afflictions do and will work very much for good: many have found it good to bear this yoke in their youth; it has made many humble and serious, and has weaned them from the world, who otherwise would have been proud and unruly. If tribulation work patience, that patience will work experience, and that experience a hope that makes not ashamed. Due thoughts of the evil of sin, and of our own sinfulness, will convince us that it is of the Lord's mercies we are not consumed. If we cannot say with unwavering voice, The Lord is my portion; may we not say, I desire to have Him for my portion and salvation, and in his word do I hope? Happy shall we be, if we learn to receive affliction as laid upon us by the hand of God.The yoke - Or, a "yoke." By bearing a yoke in his youth, i. e. being called upon to suffer in early age, a man learns betimes the lesson of silent endurance, and so finds it more easy to be calm and patient in later years. 27. yoke—of the Lord's disciplinary teaching (Ps 90:12; 119:71). Calvin interprets it, The Lord's doctrine (Mt 11:29, 30), which is to be received in a docile spirit. The earlier the better; for the old are full of prejudices (Pr 8:17; Ec 12:1). Jeremiah himself received the yoke, both of doctrine and chastisement in his youth (Jer 1:6, 7).


Good here must be expounded in the same sense as in the foregoing verse. It is not pleasant, but it is profitable, it is honourable, what becomes us, and is our duty, quietly and patiently to bear what afflictions God will please to lay upon us, to restrain our wild and wanton spirits when they are most prone to be too brisk and lascivious. Some by yoke understand the law of God, called a

yoke, ( because indeed it is so to flesh and blood,) Matthew 11:29. It is not so easy to bend a neck stiffened with age, or change a heart made hard by custom. Solomon bids us to train up one in their youth in the way we would have them to walk; and whether God will tame us when young by his word or by his rod, it is of advantage to a man. It is also laudable, and what becomes a man, early to bear the yoke of God’s law, or to bear afflictive providences, to have his heart betimes humbled to the will and feet of God. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Either the yoke of the commandments, as the Targum; or of correction, as Aben Ezra; of afflictions, as fatherly chastisements; both senses may be retained. It is good to bear the yoke of the moral law, or the commandments of God, as they are in the hands of Christ, a rule of walk and conversation; a yoke obliging all mankind, and especially saints; it is the duty of all to submit their necks to this yoke; it is but their reasonable service to love the Lord their God, and their neighbour as themselves; as must be judged by all but sons of Belial, who are without this yoke, having cast it off; and especially it is "good" to bear the yoke of Christ, to embrace his doctrines, and profess them, and submit to his ordinances, since his yoke is easy, and leads to true rest, Matthew 11:29; it is commendable so to do; since it is a following Christ, and those who through faith and patience have inherited the promises; and, besides, is both pleasant and profitable, being the means of increasing spiritual strength, light, and joy: and it is right to do this "in youth"; which is the choices, time of life, and most acceptable to Christ, and when a man is capable of doing him most service; and especially, if men do not take upon them this yoke in the day of their espousals, and while their first love lasts, it is much if they ever do it after, and therefore should not neglect it: and so it is good to bear the yoke of afflictions, though disagreeable to flesh and blood, to take up the cross, and bear it after Christ, willingly, and cheerfully, and patiently; this is "good", for hereby souls are brought to a sense of sin, to be humbled for it, and confess it; it is a means of purging from it, and preventing it; hereby the graces of the Spirit are tried, exercised, and become brighter; saints are instructed in many useful lessons in the word of God, in humility faith, and fear; herein they enjoy much of the presence of God, and all work for their good, spiritual and eternal. And as there is a close connection between a profession of faith in Christ, and submission to his ordinances, and suffering reproach and persecution for the same; it is good for a than to bear the one, as well as the other, "in his youth"; this will serve to keep him humble, and hide pride from him, which youth are addicted to; to wean him from the world, the lusts and pleasures of it, which are ensnaring to that age; to prevent many sins and evils such might be tempted to go into; and to inure them to hardships, and make them good soldiers of Christ. It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his {m} youth.

(m) He shows that we can never begin too soon to be exercised under the cross, that when the afflictions grow greater, our patience also by experience may be stronger.

27. in his youth] in the time when his passions are strongest and therefore most need the discipline, which, if established in its seat then, will hold sway throughout his life. The words by no means imply that the writer was young at the time he used them. Rather he is looking back through a long life of trouble and the experience which he has gained in the course of it. Cp. Hebrews 12:7-11.Verse 27. - In his youth. The thought of this verse reminds us of Psalm 119:71. Youth is mentioned as the time when it is easier to adapt one's self to circumstances, and when discipline is most readily accepted. The words do not prove that the writer is young, any more than vers. 9 and 100 of Psalm 119. prove that the psalmist was an aged man (against this view, see vers. 84-87). There is no occasion, therefore, for the textual alteration (for as such I cannot help regarding it), "from his youth," found in some Hebrew manuscripts in Theodotion, in the Aldine edition of the Septuagint, and in the Vulgate. The reading was probably dictated by the unconscious endeavour to prop up the theory of Jeremiah's authorship. The scribes and translators remembered, inopportunely, that the trials of Jeremiah began in early manhood. The view taken of this verse will depend on the answer to the question whether תּזכר is second or third pers. fem. Following in the wake of Luther ("Thou wilt assuredly think thereon"), C. B. Michaelis, Pareau, Rosenmller, and Kalkschmidt take it as second pers.: "Think, yea, think wilt Thou, that my soul is bowed down in me," or "that my soul is at rest within me" (Ngelsbach). But it is impossible to maintain either of these views in the face of the language employed. To take the ו before תּשׁיח in the meaning of quod is characterized by Ngelsbach as an arbitrary procedure, unwarranted either by Genesis 30:27 or Ezekiel 13:11; but neither can the meaning of resting, being at east, which is attributed to שׁוּח or שׁיח by that writer, be established. The verb means to sink down, Proverbs 2:18, and metaphorically, to be bowed down, Psalm 44:26. The latter meaning is required in the present passage, from the simple fact that the sentence undeniably refers to Psalm 42:6.

(Note: Luther's translation, "for my soul tells me," is founded on the circumstance that the lxx have mistaken שׁיח for שׂיח: καταδολεσχήσει ἐπ ̓ ἐμὲ ἡ ψυχή μου.)

ותּשׁיח expresses the consequence of זכר תּזכר, which therefore can only be the third pers., and "my soul" the subject of both clauses; for there is no logical consecution of the meaning given by such a rendering as, "If Thou wilt remember, my soul shall be bowed within me." The expression, "If my soul duly meditates thereon (on the deep suffering), it becomes depressed within me," forms the foundation of the request that God would think of his distress, his misery; and Lamentations 3:21, "I will lay this to heart," connects itself with the leading thought set forth in Lamentations 3:19, the reason for which is given in Lamentations 3:20, viz., that my soul is only bowed down within me over the thought of my distress, and must complain of it to God, that He may think of it and alleviate it: This will I lay to heart and set my hope upon. על־כּן is a strong inferential expression: "therefore," because God alone can help, will I hope. This self-encouragement begins with Lamentations 3:22, inasmuch as the prophet strengthens his hope by a consideration of the infinite compassion of the Lord. (It is) חסדי, "the mercies of God," i.e., proofs of His mercy (cf. Psalm 89:2; Psalm 107:43; Isaiah 63:7), "that we are not utterly consumed," as Luther and similarly our English translators have excellently rendered תּמנוּ. This form stands for תּמּונוּ, as in Jeremiah 44:18; Numbers 17:1-13 :28, not for תּמּוּ, third pers., as Pareau, Thenius, Vaihinger, and Ewald, referring to his Grammar, 84, b, would take it. The proofs of the grace of God have their foundation in His compassion, from which they flow. In Lamentations 3:23 we take חסדי as the subject of חדשׁים; it is the proofs of the grace of God that are new every morning, not "His compassions," although the idea remains the same. לבּקרים, every morning, as in Isaiah 33:2; Psalm 73:14. Ubi sol et dies oritur, simul et radii hujus inexhaustae bonitatis erumpunt (Tarnovius in Rosenmller). The consciousness of this constant renewal of the divine favour impels to the prayerful exclamation, "great is Thy faithfulness;" cf. Psalm 36:6.

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