For the LORD will not cast off for ever:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)For the Lord . . .—The counsels of submission are followed by the grounds of hope. The first, a quotation from Psalm 77:7, had been of old a favourite thought of the writer’s (Jeremiah 3:5; Jeremiah 3:12). The second (Lamentations 3:32) rests on the fact that compassion underlies chastisement (Psalm 30:5; Job 5:18; Isaiah 54:8); the third (Lamentations 3:33) on the truth that the primary eternal will of God is on the side of love, and that punishment is, as it were, against that will.Lamentations 3:31-33. The Lord will not cast off for ever — The truly penitent that put their trust in him, and sincerely desire and seek reconciliation with him: though he may for a time appear to estrange himself from them, yet he will certainly return to them. Though he cause grief — Though, as a prudent parent, he may see reason to chastise his people by affliction, yet as a kind and tender Father, who pitieth his children in misery, according to the multitude, the unspeakable greatness and abundance of his mercies, he will have compassion upon them. For he doth not afflict willingly — Hebrew, מלבו, from his heart, that is, of his own mere motion, without cause given him by the persons afflicted; or freely and with pleasure; nor grieve the children of men — Much less his own children. Hence judgment is called his strange work, and exercising mercy and loving-kindness his delight.Psalm 94:14; he may seem for a while to reject them, but not in reality and for ever; as when he hides his face from them, lays his afflicting hand on them, or suffers then, to be afflicted by others, and defers his help, and does not immediately appear to their deliverance and salvation; but in reality he never rejects them from being his people, his servants, and his sons; they have always a place in his heart, and are ever under his eye and care; they continue in his covenant, and abide in his family; and though they may be cast down in their souls, and cast out by men, yet are not cast off by God, neither in youth nor old age, in time or eternity; his love is unchangeable; his purposes firm and unalterable; his counsel, covenant, oath, and promise, immutable; and they are his jewels, his portion, and inheritance; and this is a ground and reason of bearing patiently all afflictions, injuries, and reproaches; for though men cast off, God will not. For the LORD will not cast off for ever:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)31. Cp. Psalm 30:5 (with mg.), Psalm 77:7 ff., Psalm 103:9; Isaiah 57:16; Micah 7:18.
31–33. This group contains the three thoughts which produce the resignation, (a) because punishment will be only for a time (cp. Isaiah 54:8), (b) because God is by nature merciful, (c) because even in punishment it is in no angry or vindictive spirit that God acts.Verses 31-33. - Two grounds of comfort:
(1) the trouble is only for a time, and God will have compassion again (vers. 31, 32); and
(2) God does not afflict in a malicious spirit (ver. 33). Psalm 16:5; Psalm 73:26; Psalm 142:6; cf. Psalm 119:57, where the expression found here is repeated almost verbatim. The expression is based on Numbers 18:20, where the Lord says to Aaron, "I am thy portion and thine inheritance;" i.e., Jahveh will be to the tribe of Levi what the other tribes receive in their territorial possessions in Canaan; Levi shall have his possession and enjoyment in Jahveh. The last clause, "therefore will I hope," etc., is a repetition of what is in Lamentations 3:21, as if by way of refrain.
This hope cannot be frustrated, Lamentations 3:25. The fundamental idea of the section contained in Lamentations 3:25-33 is thus stated by Ngelsbach: "The Lord is well disposed towards the children of men under all circumstances; for even when He smites them, He seeks their highest interest: they ought so to conduct themselves in adversity, that it is possible for Him to carry out His designs." On Lamentations 3:25, cf. Psalm 34:9; Psalm 86:5; and on the general meaning, also Psalm 25:3; Psalm 69:7. If the Lord is kind to those who hope in Him, then it is good for man to wait patiently for His help in suffering. Such is the mode in which Lamentations 3:26 is attached to Lamentations 3:25. טוב, Lamentations 3:26 and Lamentations 3:27, followed by ל dat., means to be good for one, i.e., beneficial. Some expositors (Gesenius, Rosenmller, Maurer, Ngelsbach) take יחיל as a noun-form, substantive or adjective; דּוּמם is then also taken in the same way, and ו - ו as correlative: "it is good both to wait and be silent." But although there are analogous cases to support the view that יחיל is a noun-form, the constant employment of דּוּמם as an adverb quite prevents us from taking it as an adjective. Moreover, "to be silent for the help of the Lord," would be a strange expression, and we would rather expect "to be silent and wait for;" and finally, waiting and silence are so closely allied, that the disjunctive ו - ו et - et appears remarkable. We prefer, then, with Ewald (Gram. ֗235, a) and others, to take יחיל as a verbal form, and that, too, in spite of the i in the jussive form of the Hiphil for יחל, from חוּל, in the meaning of יחל, to wait, tarry. "It is good that he (man) should wait, and in silence too (i.e., without complaining), for the help of the Lord." On the thought presented here, cf. Psalm 38:7 and Isaiah 30:15. Hence it is also good for man to bear a yoke in youth (Lamentations 3:27), that he may exercise himself in calm waiting on the help of the Lord. In the present context the yoke is that of sufferings, and the time of youth is mentioned as the time of freshness and vigour, which render the bearing of burdens more easy. He who has learned in youth to bear sufferings, will not sink into despair should they come on him in old age. Instead of בּנעוּריו, Theodotion has ἐκ νεότητος αὐτοῦ, which is also the reading of the Aldine edition of the lxx; and some codices have מנּעוּריו. But this reading is evidently a correction, prompted by the thought that Jeremiah, who composed the Lamentations in his old age, had much suffering to endure from the time of his call to the prophetic office, in the earlier portion of his old age; nor is it much better than the inference of J. D. Michaelis, that Jeremiah composed this poem when a youth, on the occasion of King Josiah's death. - In Lamentations 3:28-30, the effect of experience by suffering is set forth, yet not in such a way that the verses are to be taken as still dependent on כּי in Lamentations 3:27 (Luther, Pareau, De Wette, Maurer, and Thenius): "that he should sit alone and be silent," etc. Such a combination is opposed to the independent character of each separate alphabetic strophe. Rather, the result of early experience in suffering and patience is developed in a cohortative form. The connection of thought is simply as follows: Since it is good for man that he should learn to endure suffering, let him sit still and bear it patiently, when God puts such a burden on him. Let him sit solitary, as becomes those in sorrow (see on Lamentations 1:1), and be silent, without murmuring (cf. Lamentations 3:26), when He lays a burden on him. There is no object to נטל expressly mentioned, but it is easily understood from the notion of the verb (if He lays anything on him), or from על in Lamentations 3:27 (if He lays a yoke on him). We are forbidden to consider the verbs as indicatives ("he sits alone and is silent;" Gerlach, Ngelsbach) by the apocopated form יתּן in Lamentations 3:29, Lamentations 3:30, which shows that ישׁב and ידּם are also cohortatives.
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