Lamentations 5:21
Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Turn thou us . . . O Lord . . .—The answer to the problem was found in man’s submission and in prayer. He could not turn himself, and so re-establish the old filial relation. He could ask God to turn him, and he felt that the prayer would not be asked in vain.

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. 21. (Ps 80:3; Jer 31:18). "Restore us to favor with Thee, and so we shall be restored to our old position" [Grotius]. Jeremiah is not speaking of spiritual conversion, but of that outward turning whereby God receives men into His fatherly favor, manifested in bestowing prosperity [Calvin]. Still, as Israel is a type of the Church, temporal goods typify spiritual blessings; and so the sinner may use this prayer for God to convert him. See the like expression Jeremiah 31:18. Turn thou us unto thee by giving us repentance, and then our condition will be altered; or receive us into thy favour, and then it shall be well with us. Renew our days as of old; restore us to our former estate, that it may be with us as it hath formerly been.

Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned,.... This prayer expresses the sense they had of their backslidings from God, and distance from him; of their inability to turn themselves to the Lord, or convert themselves; and of their need of divine grace, and of the efficacy of that to effect it; see Jeremiah 31:18; for this is to be understood not only of returning them to their own land, and to the external worship of God in it; but of turning them to the Lord by true and perfect repentance, as the Targum; of the conversion of their hearts and the reformation of their lives:

renew our days as of old; for good, as the Targum adds. The request is, that their good days might be renewed; that they might enjoy the same peace and prosperity, and all good things in their own land, as they had done in days and years past: first they pray for repentance; then restoration.

{l} Turn thou us to thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.

(l) By which is declared that it is not in man's power to turn to God, but is only his work to convert us, and thus God works in us before we can turn to him, Jer 31:18.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. Turn thou us …] suggestive of Jeremiah 31:18, but see note there. Here the sense is not, bring back the exiles, but give us a repentant heart. Cp. Psalm 80:3 ff.

Verse 21. - Turn thou us, etc. Not "bring us back to thee," i.e. to the sacred land (as Thenius), for it is not a speech of the exiles, but of the Jews left behind, at least for the present, in Judea. "Turn thou us" means "Bring us into a state of reconciliation with thee" The next petition, Renew our days as of old, means, "Restore the old happy mode of life, each man with his own vine and his own fig tree, undisturbed by the fear of invasion, and rejoicing in the sense of the favour of Jehovah." The first petition has the priority because only on repentance and recovered purity of heart and life can Jerusalem rise from her ashes. Isaiah had said this long ago (Isaiah 1:26, 27), and the elegiac poet repeats it (comp. Jeremiah 31:18). Lamentations 5:21In many Hebrew MSS Lam 5:21 is found repeated after Lamentations 5:22, to make the whole more suitable for public reading in the synagogue, that the poem may not end with the mention of the wrath of God, as is the case also at the close of Isaiah, Malachi, and Ecclesiastes: the intention is, to conclude with words of comfort. But v. 22, rightly understood, did not require this repetition: for, as Rhabanas has already remarked in Ghisleri commentar. on v. 22: non haec quasi desperando de salute populi sui locutus est, sed ut dolorem suum nimium de contritione et objectione diutina gentis suae manifestaret. This conclusion entirely agrees with the character of the Lamentations, in which complaint and supplication should continue to the end, - not, however, without an element of hope, although the latter may not rise to the heights of joyful victory, but, as Gerlach expresses himself, "merely glimmers from afar, like the morning star through the clouds, which does not indeed itself dispel the shadows of the night, though it announces that the rising of the sun is near, and that it shall obtain the victory."
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