Lamentations 5:20
Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Wherefore dost thou forget . . .—This was the problem of the mystery of suffering then, as it has been at all times. Jehovah had seemed forgetful of His people, indifferent to their miseries.

5:17-22 The people of God express deep concern for the ruins of the temple, more than for any other of their calamities. But whatever changes there are on earth, God is still the same, and remains for ever wise and holy, just and good; with Him there is no variableness nor shadow of turning. They earnestly pray to God for mercy and grace; Turn us to thee, O Lord. God never leaves any till they first leave him; if he turns them to him in a way of duty, no doubt he will quickly return to them in a way of mercy. If God by his grace renew our hearts, he will by his favour renew our days. Troubles may cause our hearts to be faint, and our eyes to be dim, but the way to the mercy-seat of our reconciled God is open. Let us, in all our trials, put our whole trust and confidence in his mercy; let us confess our sins, and pour out our hearts before him. Let us watch against repinings and despondency; for we surely know, that it shall be well in the end with all that trust in, fear, love, and serve the Lord. Are not the Lord's judgments in the earth the same as in Jeremiah's days? Let Zion then be remembered by us in our prayers, and her welfare be sought above every earthly joy. Spare, Lord, spare thy people, and give not thine heritage to reproach, for the heathen to rule over them.Remainest - Or, reignest. The earthly sanctuary is in ruins, but the heavenly throne in unchangeable glory. 20. for ever—that is, for "so long a time." Wherefore dost thou, in the dispensations of thy providence, carry thyself as if thou hadst forgotten us, and forsaken us, and that for a long time.

Wherefore dost thou, forget us for ever,.... Since thou art firm, constant, and unchangeable, and thy love and covenant the same. God seems to forget his people when he afflicts them, or suffers them to be oppressed, and does not arise immediately for their help; which being deferred some time, looks like an eternity to them, or they fear it will ever be so; at least this they say to express their eager desire after his gracious presence, and to show how much they prize it:

and forsake us so long time? or, "to length of days" (d)? so long as the seventy years' captivity; which to be forsaken of God, or to seem to be forsaken of him, was with them a long time.

(d) "in longitudinem dierum", Pagninus, Montanus.

Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. Since this is so, why is Israel left desolate?

Verse 20. - Wherefore dost thou forget us, etc.? The poet does not say," Wherefore hast thou forgotten us?" One of the psalmists, indeed, does go so far (Psalm 74:1); but the poet of this lamentation, with a more tender and trustful reserve, adopts the tense of feeling (the imperfect) in preference to that of fact (the perfect), and asks, "Wherefore dost thou [to my feeling] forget us? Wherefore, if Jehovah's power is still unbroken, does he allow Israel to feel herself forsaken?" The fact is certain, viz. that the land of Israel is desolate, and (the poet seems to imply) desolate for some time already. The interpretation is hypothetical, and, as the last verse will show, the poet cannot bring himself to believe that it can be accurate. Lamentations 5:20The glory of Zion, the earthly habitation of the Lord, is at an end, but the throne of the Lord endures eternally. Through this thought, the lamentation rises to the prayer that the Lord may not forsake His people for ever, but re-establish His kingdom on the earth. "Thou, O Jahveh, art enthroned eternally." This thought is expressed as the ground of hope, in nearly the same words as are found in Psalm 102:13. Jahveh is the God of salvation. Since His throne endures eternally in heaven, He cannot let His kingdom perish on the earth. On this is founded the request, "Why wilt Thou forget us for ever, forsake us for a length of days (i.e., through life, always, Psalm 23:6)?" This the Lord cannot do, because of His grace. From this is developed the further request (Lamentations 5:21), "Lead us back to Thyself, that we may return." We must not restrict השׁיב and שׁוּב to conversion to the Lord (Kalkschmidt, Ewald, Vaihinger, Gerlach); they signify the re-establishment of the gracious relation, which is, of course, impossible without repentance and conversion on the part of Israel. It is wrong to refer the words to the restoration of the people to their native land, or to the re-establishment of the theocracy (Dathe, Thenius), because it is not the exiles who address this petition to the Lord. The mode in which we are to understand the "bringing back to Jahveh" is shown in the second hemistich, "renew our days, as they were in former times," i.e., vouchsafe to us again the life (or state of grace) which we enjoyed in former times. In Lamentations 5:22 this request is based on an argument introduced in a negative form. כּי אם, after a negative clause, signifies nisi, but (Ger. sondern). This meaning developed into that of a strong limitation (cf. Ewald, 356), unless equals provided that. Thus literally here: "unless Thou hast utterly rejected us, - art very wroth against us." This case, however, is merely stated as a possibility, the actual occurrence of which is out of the question. The idea is the same as that expressed by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 14:19) in the form of a question, in order to give greater emphasis to his intercession for his nation. The Lord cannot have utterly rejected His people Israel, because He would thereby make His name to be despised in the eyes of the nations (Jeremiah 14:21). Thus terminates this lamentation, with a request for whose fulfilment faith can hope with confidence.
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