Lamentations 3:29
He puts his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(29) He putteth his mouth in the dust . . .—The outward image is that of the prostration of an Eastern subject before a king: his very face laid in the dust, so that he cannot speak.

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.Translate:

Let him sit alone and keep silence;

For He (God) hath laid the yoke upon him.

Let him place his mouth in the dust;

Perchance there is hope.

Let him offer his cheek to him that smiteth him;

Let him be filled to the full with reproach.

It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth, but only if he bear it rightly. To attain this result, let him learn resignation, remembering who has laid the yoke upon him. This reverential silence is described Lamentations 3:29, as putting the mouth in the dust, and so lying prostrate before the Deity; while Lamentations 3:30 the harder task is imposed of bearing contumely with meekness (margin reference), and not shrinking from the last dregs of the cup of reproach. Many who submit readily to God are indignant when the suffering comes through men.

29. (Job 42:6). The mouth in the dust is the attitude of suppliant and humble submission to God's dealings as righteous and loving in design (compare Ezr 9:6; 1Co 14:25).

if so be there may be hope—This does not express doubt as to whether God be willing to receive the penitent, but the penitent's doubt as to himself; he whispers to himself this consolation, "Perhaps there may be hope for me."

If that may be supplied, or when, (as Pagnine translateth yb Lamentations 3:28, the connexion of these words with the former is very fair and easy, for then those words, Lamentations 3:27, It is good that must be repeated in the beginning of Lamentations 3:28 and Lamentations 3:29; however, both this and the former verses let us know the duty of persons under afflictions in order to their obtaining mercy at the hand of God, and admirably give us the character of persons under afflictions preparing for mercy. They hope and quietly wait for God’s salvation, Lamentations 3:26; they bear God’s yoke, Lamentations 3:27, because he hath laid it upon them; they sit alone and keep silence, Lamentations 3:28; and here, they put their mouths in the dust, that is, humble themselves to the feet of God, and to the will of God; not being too confident of deliverances in this life, but if peradventure

there may be hope. He putteth his mouth in the dust,.... Of self-abhorrence; sensible of his own vileness and nothingness, his unworthiness, and the unprofitableness of all his duties; ascribing the whole of his salvation to the free grace of God, Job 42:6; humbling himself under the mighty hand of God; not daring to open his mouth in a complaining way against him; but prostrating himself before him to the earth, as the manner of the eastern people in prayer was, to which the allusion is; licking as it were the dust of the earth, under a sense of the distance and disproportion between God and him, who is but dust and ashes; so the Targum adds,

"and is prostrate before the Lord:''

if so be there may be hope; or, "peradventure there is hope" (d); for, as some interpreters observe, these words do not express hesitation and doubt, but hope and expectation of help, to bear the yoke of God's commandments, and in due time to be delivered from affliction and distress.

(d) "forte est expectatio", Junius & Tremellius; "fortassis", Piscator, Cocceius; "forte est spes", Michaelis.

He putteth his {o} mouth in the dust; if there may be hope.

(o) He humbles himself as they who fall down with their face to the ground, and so with patience waits for comfort.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
29. Let him put his mouth in the dust] the Eastern way of expressing absolute submission by prostrating oneself.Verse 29. - He putteth his mouth, etc. An Oriental manner of expressing submission (comp. Micah 7:17; Psalm 72:9). 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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