Lamentations 3:19-26

Lamentations 3:19-26
Ordinary C45


19 The thoughtA of my afflictionB and my homelessnessC
    is wormwoodD and gall!E

Notes on verse 19

A “thought” = zakar. This is to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention.
B “affliction” = oniy. From anah (to be bowed down; humility or being browbeaten, oppressed, afflicted, or depressed; literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance). This is misery, poverty, or affliction.
C “homelessness” = marud. 3x in OT. From rud (to be restless, roam, tramp about). This is restlessness, wandering, an outcast, poverty, homelessness.
D “wormwood” = laanah. 8x in OT. May come from a word that means to curse. This is wormwood or hemlock.
E “gall” = rosh. 12x in OT. From rosh (head, captain, or chief; excellent or the forefront; first in position or in statue or in time). This is bitterness, gall, poison. It can be used of a plant or of venom from a snake.

20 My soul continually thinksF of it
    and is bowed downG within me.H

Notes on verse 20

F “continually thinks” = zakar + zakar. Same as “thought” in v19. See note A above. The word is repeated twice – the first time as an Infinitive Absolute. The Infinitive Absolute serves to emphasize the sentiment of the word. It is rather like Foghorn Leghorn’s speech pattern, “I said, I said.”
G “bowed down” = shuach. 3x in OT. This is to bow or sink down in a literal or figurative sense, humble.
H “me” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.

21 But this I callI to mind,J
    and thereforeK I have hope:L

Notes on verse 21

I “call” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
J “mind” = leb. May be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.
K “therefore” = al + ken. Ken is perhaps from kun (properly, in a perpendicular position; literally, to establish, fix, fasten, prepare; figuratively, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous). This is to set upright. Generally used figuratively to mean thus, so, afterwards, rightly so.
L “have hope” = yachal. This is to wait, which implies patience, hope, and trust. It can also be pained waiting.

22 The steadfast loveM of the LordN never ceases,O
    his merciesP never come to an end;Q

Notes on verse 22

M “steadfast love” = chesed. From chasad (being good, kind, merciful; may mean bowing one’s neck as is done in the presence of an equal for courtesy’s sake; so, if one in a superior position is treating you like an equal, that is what is captured here). This is favor, goodness, kindness, loving kindness, pity, reproach, or a good deed. When done by God to humanity, this is mercy/loving kindness. When done by humanity to God, it is piety.
N “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
O “ceases” = tamam. This is to finish or accomplish. It is to make perfect, demonstrate that you are upright, consume or cease. It is to complete in a literal or figurative sense, positive or negative.
P “mercies” = racham. From the same as rechem (womb); from racham (to love, have compassion, have mercy); from racham (compassion, tender love, womb, compassion; the womb as that which cherishes the fetus). This is compassion, mercy, or tender love.
Q “come to an end” = kalah. This is to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed.

23 they are newR every morning;S
    greatT is your faithfulness.U
24 “The Lord is my portion,”V says my soul,W
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

Notes on verses 23-24

R “new” = chadash. From chadash (to renew or restore, to repair or rebuild). This is something fresh or new.
S “morning” = boqer. From baqar (to seek, plow, break forth, admire, care for). This refers to the break of day. So it is dawn, early, morning, or morrow.
T “great” = rab. From rabab (increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.). This is abundance, many, elder, exceedingly, great. It refers to abundance of amount, rank, or status.
U “faithfulness” = emunah. From aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This word is literally firmness, but figuratively fidelity, faithfulness, honesty, responsibility, trust, truth, steadfastness. This word shares a root with the word “Amen.”
V “portion” = cheleq. From chalaq (to be smooth in a figurative sense; can refer to the stones that were part of casting lots – hence, apportion, share, distribute; figuratively, it can also mean to flatter). This is a division, lot, inheritance, legacy, or portion. It can also refer to a smooth tongue.
W “soul” = nephesh. Same as “me” in v20. See note H above.

25 The Lord is goodX to those who waitY for him,
    to the soul that seeksZ him.

Notes on verse 25

X “good” = tob. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is good, beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, bountiful, at ease. This word is used for goodness as a concept, a good thing, a good person. This can refer to prosperity and welfare as well as joy, kindness, sweetness, and graciousness. So, this is ethically good, but also enjoyably good.
Y “wait” = qavah. It can mean to bind or gather together, especially in the sense of twisting together. In that light, it can mean collect. Figuratively, this can mean to wait, await, expect, or tarry.
Z “seeks” = darash. This is seek, ask, inquire, care for. Generally it means following in pursuit or following as part of a search, which implies seeking or asking. Also used specially to mean worship.

26 It is good that one should waitAA quietlyBB
    for the salvationCC of the Lord.

Notes on verse 26

AA “wait” = chul. This is whirling around so dancing as in a circle or writhing in pain. It is used particularly for the pain of childbirth or from writhing due to fear. It can also be falling in pain or waiting.
BB “quietly” = dumam. 3x in OT. From the same as dumah (silence; figuratively, death). This is silence or stillness. It can also refer to waiting quietly.
CC “salvation” = teshuah. From yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe; to free someone). This is deliverance or salvation.

Image credit: “The artist and the photographer seek the mysteries and the adventure of experience in nature (Explored)” by Navaneeth KN, 2013

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