Lamentations 5:20
Why do you 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. Youths and boys are forced to engage in heavy servile work. טחון נשׂאוּ does not mean "they take them for the mill," ad molendum sumpserunt (Ewald, Rosenmller). Apart from the consideration that there is no ground for it in the language employed, such a view of the words does not accord with the parallelism. נשׂא, construed with a simple infinitive or accusative (without ל), does not mean "to take for something." טחון is a substantive, "the mill." "To bear (carry) the mill" signifies to work at and with the mill. We must think of the hand-mill, which was found in every household, and which could thus be carried from one place to another. Grinding was the work of salves; see on Judges 16:21. The carrying of the mill (not merely of the upper millstone) is mentioned as the heaviest portion of the work in grinding. "Boys stagger (fall down) on the wood laid on them to be carried," i.e., under the burden of it. כּשׁל with בּ means to stumble on something; here בּ denotes the cause of the stumbling; cf. Jeremiah 6:21; Leviticus 26:37. It is arbitrary to understand עץ as meaning the wooden handle of the mill (Aben Ezra, and Bochart in Hieroz. i. 157, ed. Rosenmller); the same must also be said regarding the opinion of Thenius and Ngelsbach, who refer the words to the dragging of the hand-mills, and of the wood necessary for baking bread for the comfort of the soldiers, on the march of the captives to Babylon.
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