Lamentations 4 has the writer recalling Jerusalem’s former glory and contrasting things with her present ruin. The once glorious temple is now defiled and shattered. “The Lord has accomplished His wrath, He has poured out His fierce anger; and He has kindled a fire in Zion which has consumed its foundations”. God has destroyed much and done it in a way that when compared to Sodom, which was destroyed in a day, shows how much worse what happened in Jerusalem which was destroyed amid long and bitter agony.
Sin is always a personal thing, but there is also blame around Jerusalem’s downfall that is the result of its corrupt leaders, especially the prophets and priests. “The kings of the earth did not believe, Nor did any of the inhabitants of the world”. They, more than anyone else, were responsible for the injustices that brought God’s judgment on the city. Realizing this, the people now treat their former leaders like lepers and drive them out of the city.
“Because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests….they wandered, blind, in the streets; they were defiled with blood”.
The writer recalls the history of how Jerusalem expected to be rescued by Egypt, but no deliverance came. They put their hope in something that could not deliver rather than running in repentance to God. Instead the Babylonians came, making God’s people prisoners in their own city. Those who tried to flee to the mountains were caught, including the king Zedekiah, in whom the people had falsely placed their trust. He endured great suffering and his sons were all killed. But God completed the judgment that had to be delivered because of their sinful choices.
“The punishment of your iniquity has been completed, O daughter of Zion; He will exile you no longer. But He will punish your iniquity, O daughter of Edom; He will expose your sins”! Edom rejoiced to see its ancient enemy Judah overthrown; but Edom too will be overthrown and, unlike Judah, will not rise again. The destruction of Jerusalem is temporary, but Edom’s destruction will be permanent. God’s people – Judah – will be restored and those who survived will be called back to help rebuild the city of Jerusalem in the future.