Lamentations 3:9
He has enclosed my ways with hewn stone, he has made my paths crooked.
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(9) He hath inclosed.—Yet another figure of resourceless misery follows. A massive wall of stone runs across the mourner’s way. When he turns aside into by-paths, they are turned and twisted in labyrinthine confusion, and lead nowhither.

Lamentations 3:9-13. He hath enclosed my way with hewn stone — He hath not only hedged it up with thorns, Hosea 2:6, but stopped it up with a stone wall which cannot be broken through; so that my paths are made crooked — That is, I traverse to and fro, to the right hand and to the left, to try to get forward, but I am still turned back. Observe, reader, if we walk in the crooked ways of sin, crossing or swerving from God’s laws, it is just with God to make us walk in the crooked paths of affliction, crossing our designs and breaking our measures. He was unto me as a bear lying in wait — Surprising me with his judgments; and as a lion in secret places — So that which way soever I went, I was in continual fear of being attacked, and could never think myself safe. He hath turned aside my ways — Hath blasted all my counsels and ruined my projects; (see above on Lamentations 3:9;) and pulled me in pieces — Hath torn and gone away, Hosea 5:14. He hath made me desolate — Deprived me of all society, and of all comfort in my soul. He hath bent his bow — That bow, which was ordained against the church’s persecutors, is bent against her sons. He hath set me as a mark for his arrows — Which he aims at, and is sure to hit: so that the arrows of his quiver enter into my reins — And give me an inward and mortal wound.3:1-20 The prophet relates the more gloomy and discouraging part of his experience, and how he found support and relief. In the time of his trial the Lord had become terrible to him. It was an affliction that was misery itself; for sin makes the cup of affliction a bitter cup. The struggle between unbelief and faith is often very severe. But the weakest believer is wrong, if he thinks that his strength and hope are perished from the Lord.Inclosed - Or, hedged Lamentations 3:7.

Hath, made crooked - Or, "hath" turned aside. A solid wall being built across the main road, Jeremiah turns aside into by-ways, but finds them turned aside, so that they lead him back after long wandering to the place from where he started.

9. hewn stone—which coheres so closely as not to admit of being broken through.

paths crooked—thwarted our plans and efforts so that none went right.


Ways in Scripture ordinarily signifies men’s courses, and methods of counsels, and actions; if the term be taken in that sense here, it signifieth God’s defeating all their methods and counsels taken for their own security, in the pursuit of which they met not with ordinary, but with insuperable difficulties, like walls of hewn stone. Nay, God had not only defeated their counsels, but had made them prove more fatal and pernicious to themselves, which seemeth to be intended, by making their ways crooked, which should have led right on to the end intended. He hath enclosed my ways with hewn stone,.... Not with a hedge of thorns, or mud walls, but with a fence of stones; and these not rough, and laid loosely together, but hewn and put in order, and well cemented. The Targum is, with marble hewn stones, which are harder than common stones, and not so easily demolished; this may respect the case of the prophet in prison, and in the dungeon, and in Jerusalem, when besieged; or in general his afflictive state, from whence he had no prospect of deliverance; or the state of the Jews in captivity, from which there was no likelihood of a release;

he hath made my paths crooked; or, "perverted my ways" (h); so that he could not find his way out, when he attempted it; he got into a way which led him wrong; everything went cross and against him, and all his measures were disconcerted, and his designs defeated; no one step he took prospered.

(h) "semitas meas pervertit", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Calvin; "contorsit", Michealis.

He hath {d} inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked.

(d) And keeps me in hold as a prisoner.

9. hath made my paths crooked] The writer, seeing that the direct way was as it were blocked, tried side paths, but found that they also failed to lead him in the desired direction. The figure expresses perplexity and dismay.Verse 9. - Inclosed; or, walled up; the participle of this verb is rendered "masons" in the Authorized Version of 2 Kings 12:12. Made my paths crooked; i.e. hath compelled me to walk in byways (comp. margin of the Authorized Version, Judges 5:6). But this hardly seems appropriate to the context. The semitas meas subvertit of the Vulgate is preferable. Render, therefore, turned my path upside down (comp. Isaiah 24:1). An analogous expression m Job 30:13 is rendered in the Authorized Version, "they mar my path." Thenius thinks that the destruction of a raised causeway is the figure intended; but the word is quite correctly rendered "paths;" see the note of Delitzsch on REFERENCE_WORK:Keil & DelitzschIsaiah 59:8. "Only upon (against) me does He repeatedly turn His hand." ישׁוּב is subordinated to the idea of יהפך in an adverbial sense; cf. Gesenius, 142, 3, b. "His hand" is the smiting hand of God. אך, "only upon me," expresses the feeling which makes him on whom grievous sufferings have fallen to regard himself as one smitten in a special manner by God. "The whole day," i.e., continually; cf. Lamentations 1:13. - From Lamentations 3:4 onwards this divine chastisement is more minutely set forth under various figures, and first of all as a wasting away of the vital force. בּלּה means to wear out by rubbing, cause to fall away, from בּלה, to be worn out, which is applied to clothes, and then transferred to bodies, Job 13:28; Psalm 49:15. "Flesh and skin" are the exterior and soft constituents of the body, while the bones are the firmer parts. Skin, flesh, and bones together, make up the substance of the human body. Proverbs 5:11 forms the foundation of the first clause. "He hath broken my bones" is a reminiscence from the lamentation of Hezekiah in Isaiah 38:13; cf. Psalm 51:10; Job 30:17. The meaning is thus excellently given by Pareau: indicantur animi, fortius irae divinae malorumque sensu conquassati, angores. - The figure in Lamentations 3:5, "He builds round about and encircles me," is derived from the enclosing of a city by besieging it. עלי is to be repeated after wayaqeep. The besieging forces, which encompass him so that he cannot go out and in, are ראשׁ וּתלאה. That the former of these two words cannot mean κεφαλήν μου (lxx), is abundantly evident. ראשׁ or רושׁ is a plant with a very bitter taste, hence a poisonous plant; see on Jeremiah 8:14. As in that passage מי ראשׁ, so here the simple ראשׁ is an emblem of bitter suffering. The combination with תּלאה, "toil," is remarkable, as a case in which a figurative is joined with a literal expression; this, however, does not justify the change of תּלאה into לענה (Castell, Schleussner, etc.). The combination is to be explained on the ground that ראשׁ had become so common a symbol of bitter suffering, that the figure was quite lost sight of behind the thing signified.
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