Lamentations 3:38
Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
3:37-41 While there is life there is hope; and instead of complaining that things are bad, we should encourage ourselves with the hope they will be better. We are sinful men, and what we complain of, is far less than our sins deserve. We should complain to God, and not of him. We are apt, in times of calamity, to reflect on other people's ways, and blame them; but our duty is to search and try our own ways, that we may turn from evil to God. Our hearts must go with our prayers. If inward impressions do not answer to outward expressions, we mock God, and deceive ourselves.Why then does a loving God, who disapproves of suffering when inflicted by man upon man, Himself send sorrow and misery? "Because of sins."

Lamentations 3:37

Literally, "Who is this that spake and it was done, though אדני 'ădonāy commanded it not?"

38. evil … good—Calamity and prosperity alike proceed from God (Job 2:10; Isa 45:7; Am 3:6). In the Hebrew the form of these words is interrogatory, as much as if he should say, Doth not evil come out of God’s mouth from his direction and command, and from his providence, as well as good? He speaks of evils of punishment, judicial afflictive dispensations; so it agreeth with Job 2:10 Amos 3:6. It is no reproach unto God to make him the author of his own punishments, though we call them evil.

Out of the mouth of the most High proceed not evil and good? Certainly they do; they come to pass, both one and the other, as God has pronounced, and his will determined; even "evils", as it is in the plural number; not the evil of sin, or of fault; this comes not out of the mouth of God, but is forbidden and condemned by him; much less is he the author of it, or tempter to it; indeed it is not without his knowledge, nor in some sense without his will; not with his will of approbation, but by his permissive will, which he suffers to be, and overrules for good; but evils here design the judgments of God, or punishment inflicted on sinners, and chastisement on his own people; the evil of affliction, or adverse dispensations of providence, Isaiah 45:7; they are all by his appointment; he has said or determined what shall be the kind and nature of them; the measure, how far they shall go; and the duration, how long they shall last; and the end and use of them; see Job 2:10; and so all good comes from God, who is goodness itself; all created good, as every creature of God is good; every good thing in providence; all temporal good things; as to have a being; to be preserved in it; to have a habitation to dwell in; to have food and raiment, health and long life; these are all by the appointment of God, and according to the determination of his will: all spiritual good things are purposed, promised, and prepared by him in council and covenant; the great good of all, salvation by Christ; this is what God has appointed his son far, and his people to, and fixed the time of it, and all things relating to it; the effectual calling of the redeemed ones is according to his purpose and grace; the persons, thing itself, time, place, and means; also eternal glory and happiness, which is the kingdom prepared, the crown laid up, and inheritance reserved in heaven, according to the purpose of God; all good things, in time and eternity, are as God has pronounced them. Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not {s} evil and good?

(s) That is, adversity and prosperity, Am 3:6.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
38. Cp. Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6.

Lamentations 3:38Lamentations 3:37 brings the answer to this question in a lively manner, and likewise in an interrogative form: "Who hath spoken, and it came to pass, which the Lord hath not commanded?" The thought here presented reminds us of the word of the Creator in Genesis 1:3. The form of the expression is an imitation of Psalm 33:9. Rosenmller gives the incorrect rendering, Quis est qui dixit: factum est (i.e., quis audeat dicere fieri quicquam), non praecipiente Deo; although the similar but more free translation of Luther, "Who dares to say that such a thing happens without the command of the Lord?" gives the sense in a general way. The meaning is as follows: Nothing takes place on the earth which the Lord has not appointed; no man can give and execute a command against the will of God. From this it further follows (Lamentations 3:38), that evil and good will proceed from the mouth of the Lord, i.e., be wrought by Him; on this point, cf. Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6. לא תצא gives no adequate meaning unless it be taken interrogatively, and as indicating what is usual - wont to be. And then there is established from this, in Lamentations 3:39, the application of the general principle to the particular case in question, viz., the grievous suffering of individuals at the downfall of the kingdom of Judah. "Why does a man sigh as long as he lives? Let every one [sigh] for his sins." Man is not to sigh over suffering and sorrow, but only over his sin. התאונן occurs only here and in Numbers 11:1, and signifies to sigh, with the accessory notion of murmuring, complaining. חי appended to אדם is more of a predicate than a simple attributive: man, as long as he lives, i.e., while he is in this life. The verse is viewed in a different light by Pareau, Ewald, Neumann, and Gerlach, who combine both members into one sentence, and render it thus: "Why doth a man complain, so long as he lives, - a man over the punishment of his sins?" [Similar is the rendering of our "Authorized" Version.] Neumann translates: "A man in the face of [Ger. bei] his sins." But this latter rendering is lexically inadmissible, because על esua in this connection cannot mean "in view of." The other meaning assigned is improbable, though there is nothing against it, lexically considered. For though חטא, sin, may also signify the punishment of sin, the latter meaning does not suit the present context, because in what precedes it is not said that the people suffer for their sins, but merely that their suffering has been appointed by God. If, then, in what follows, there is an exhortation to return to the Lord (Lamentations 3:40.), and in Lamentations 3:42 a confession of sins made; if, moreover, Lamentations 3:39 forms the transition from Lamentations 3:33-38 to the exhortation that succeeds (Lamentations 3:40.); then it is not abstinence from murmuring or sighing over the punishment of sins that forms the true connecting link of the two lines of thought, but merely the refraining from complaint over sufferings, coupled with the exhortation to sigh over their won sins. Tarnov also has viewed the verse in this way, when he deduces from it the advice to every soul labouring under a weight of sorrows: est igitur optimus ex malis emergendi modus Deum excusare et se ipsum accusare.
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