My enemies chased me sore, like a bird, without cause.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Without cause . . .—The words connect themselves in the Hebrew with “mine enemies” (comp. Psalm 35:7; Psalm 35:19; Psalm 69:4), and it has been inferred from this that Jeremiah speaks not of the Chaldeans as enemies of his nation, but of those who were individually his persecutors. The hypothesis receives some confirmation from the apparent reference in the “dungeon” and the “waters” to the narrative of Jeremiah 38. It has been urged, on the other hand, that those expressions may be figurative here, as they are in Psalm 42:7; Psalm 88:7; Psalm 124:4.Lamentations 3:52-58. Mine enemies chased me sore — “The prophet in this, and the following verses, describes his own sufferings, when his enemies seized him and put him into the dungeon, Jeremiah 37:16; Jeremiah 38:6. He compares them to a fowler in pursuit of a bird; so, saith he, they sought all opportunities to take an advantage against me, and to deprive me of my life and liberty: and this they did without any provocation given on my part. So the word חנם, without cause, signifies.” — Lowth. They have cut off my life — I was not only sequestered from all human society, like a dead man, but in apparent danger of losing my life in the dungeon. And their laying a stone upon the entrance of that dark pit resembled the burying me alive. Waters flowed over my head; then I said, &c. — When I sunk down into the mire in this dungeon, I despaired of my life, just as if I had been sinking over head in a river. I called upon thy name, O Lord — I had recourse to thee, O Jehovah, in my distress; out of the low dungeon — As Jonah out of the whale’s belly. Observe, reader, though we be cast into ever so low a dungeon of calamity and trouble, we may from thence find a way of access to God in the highest heavens. Thus the psalmist, Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, Psalm 130:1. Hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry — So he terms his prayer. It was his breathing toward God, and after God. Prayer is the breath of the new man, drawing in the air of grace in petitions, and returning it in praises; it is both the evidence and maintenance of the spiritual life. Some read it, at my gasping; when I lay gasping for life, and ready to expire, and thought I was breathing my last, then thou tookest cognizance of my distressed case. Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee — That is, thou didst graciously assure me of thy presence with me, and didst give me to see thee nigh unto me, whereas I had thought thee to be at a distance from me. Thou saidst, Fear not — This was the language, 1st, of God’s prophets, preaching to them not to fear, Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 41:13; Isaiah 2 d, of his providence, preventing those things which they were afraid of; and, 3d, of his grace, quieting their minds, and making them easy, by the witness of his Spirit with their spirits, that they were his people still, though in distress, and therefore ought not to fear. Thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul — That is, as it follows, Thou hast redeemed my life, hast rescued it out of the hands of those that would have taken it away, hast saved it when it was ready to be swallowed up; thou hast given me my life for a prey.
without cause—(Ps 69:4; 109:3, 4). Type of Messiah (Joh 15:25).Jeremiah 52:7;
without cause; which may be connected with the word "enemies", so the Targum; who were so without cause; they had done them no injury, to make them their enemies; and without reason pursued and chased them in the manner they did.Mine enemies chased me sore, like a bird, without cause.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)52–54. There is a possible reference on the part of the writer to Jeremiah 38:6, but this is rendered unlikely by the fact that the “dungeon” had no water in it, and thus Lamentations 3:54 is inapplicable. The use of the singular “stone” in Lamentations 3:53 is difficult to understand, unless it refers to covering thus the mouth of a pit.
52–66. See intr. note.Verses 52-66. - THE SPEAKER'S SUFFERINGS; AN EARNESTLY BELIEVING PRAYER FOR DELIVERANCE. He speaks as a representative of the nation; if we should not rather say that the nation itself, personified, is the speaker. In the first triad some have supposed a reference to the persecution suffered by Jeremiah at the hands of his countrymen. The "dungeon," or rather "pit," will in this case be the "dungeon" ("pit") mentioned in Jeremiah 38:6. But a "pit" is a figure in the psalms for destruction (Psalm 40:2; Psalm 69:15), and there is nothing recorded in Jeremiah as to the" princes" haying cast stones at Jeremiah, or rolled a stone on to the top of the "pit." Besides, the "pit" into which the prophet was cast had "no water, but mire." Verse 52. - Mine enemies... without cause. These words ought to be connected, as in the Hebrew. Lamentations 3:43, corresponds to "Thou hast covered with a cloud," Lamentations 3:44; hence "Thou hast covered" is plainly used both times in the same meaning, in spite of the fact that לך is wanting in Lamentations 3:43. סכך means to "cover," here to "make a cover." "Thou didst make a cover with anger," i.e., Thou didst hide Thyself in wrath; there is no necessity for taking סכך as in itself reflexive. This mode of viewing it agrees also with what follows. The objection of J. D. Michaelis, qui se obtegit non persequitur alios, ut statim additur, which Bttcher and Thenius have repeated, does not hold good in every respect, but chiefly applies to material covering. And the explanation of Thenius, "Thou hast covered us with wrath, and persecuted us," is shown to be wrong by the fact that סכך signifies to cover for protection, concealment, etc., but not to cover in the sense of heaping upon, pouring upon (as Luther translates it); nor, again, can the word be taken here in a sense different from that assigned to it in Lamentations 3:44. "The covering of wrath, which the Lord draws around Him, conceals under it the lightnings of His wrath, which are spoken of immediately afterwards" (Ngelsbach). The anger vents itself in the persecution of the people, in killing them unsparingly. For, that these two are connected, is shown not merely in Lamentations 3:66, but still more plainly by the threatening in Jeremiah 29:18 : "I will pursue them with sword, and famine, and pestilence, and give them for maltreatment to all the kingdoms of the earth." On "Thou hast slain, Thou hast not spared," cf. Lamentations 2:21. In Lamentations 3:44, לך is further appended to סכּותה: "Thou makest a cover with clouds for Thyself," round about Thee, so that no prayer can penetrate to Thee; cf. Psalm 55:2. These words form the expression of the painful conclusion drawn by God's people from their experience, that God answered no cry for help that came to Him, i.e., granted no help. Israel was thereby given up, in a defenceless state, to the foe, so that they could treat them like dirt and abuse them. סחי (from סחה, Ezekiel 26:4), found only here as a noun, signifies "sweepings;" and מאוס is a noun, "disesteem, aversion." The words of Lamentations 3:45, indeed, imply the dispersion of Israel among the nations, but are not to be limited to the maltreatment of the Jews in exile; moreover, they rather apply to the conduct of their foes when Judah was conquered and Jerusalem destroyed. Such treatment, especially the rejection, is further depicted in Lamentations 3:46. The verse is almost a verbatim repetition of Lamentations 2:16, and is quite in the style of Jeremiah as regards the reproduction of particular thoughts; while Thenius, from the repetition, is inclined to infer that chs. 2 and 3 had different authors: cf. Gerlach on the other side. The very next verse might have been sufficient to keep Thenius from such a precipitate conclusion, inasmuch as it contains expressions and figures that are still more clearly peculiar to Jeremiah. On פּחד ופחת, cf. Jeremiah 48:43; השׁבר is also one of the favourite expressions of the prophet. hashee't is certainly ἅπ. λεγ., but reminds one of בּני , Numbers 24:17, for which in Jeremiah 48:45 there stands בּני שׁאון. It comes from שׁאה, to make a noise, roar, fall into ruins with a loud noise, i.e., be laid waste (cf. Isaiah 6:11); and, as Raschi has already observed, it has the same meaning as שׁאיּה, "devastation," Isaiah 24:12. It is incorrect to derive the word from the Hiphil of נשׁא (J. D. Michaelis and Ewald), according to which it ought to mean "disappointment," for the ה does not form an essential portion of the word, but is the article, as והשׁבר shows. Still more erroneous are the renderings ἔπαρσις (lxx, from נשׂא) and vaticinatio (Jerome, who has confounded השּׁאת with משּׂא).
Over this terrible calamity, rivers of tears must be shed, until the Lord looks down from heaven on it, Lamentations 3:48-51. The prophet once more utters this complaint in the first person, because he who has risked his life in his endeavour to keep the people in the service of God must feel the deepest sympathy for them in their misfortunes. "Rivers of water" is stronger than "water," Lamentations 1:16, and "tears like a stream," Lamentations 2:18; but the mode of expression is in the main like that in those passages, and used again in Psalm 119:136, but in a different connection. The second member of the verse is the same as in Lamentations 2:11.
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