“The LORD has done what he purposed; he has carried out his word, which he commanded long ago; he has thrown down without pity; he has made the enemy rejoice over you and exalted the might of your foes” (v. 17).
Pride manifests itself in a number of different ways. One example is the pride of the Pharisees, who believed they were owed the grace of God because they were not “really bad” like the tax collectors (Luke 18:9–14). Another kind of pride forgets the Creatorcreature distinction and presumes to think that we know better than the Lord. Adam and Eve were guilty of such pride when they believed they were owed knowledge that God did not want them to have and ate the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:1–7). This second type of pride can manifest itself blatantly, as in the case of our first parents, or it can be subtle. Some people who proudly believe that they know better than the Lord display their pride by exalting one part of God’s Word above another. In effect, by denying the parts of Scripture they do not like, they end up “correcting” the Lord because when they deny or ignore the truthfulness of part of what God has said, they are saying that He does not really mean it. False prophets such as Hananiah possessed the subtle form of the aforementioned pride. They believed that our Creator did not really mean it when He promised to judge His people for impenitent sin but thought that He “knew what He was talking about” only when He pledged to save His people (Jer. 28). Yet one thing we can be sure of is that the Lord always says what He means and means what He says (1 Thess. 5:24; Heb. 10:23). Today’s passage reminds us again that the old covenant community had to learn this the hard way. Moving from speaking as the personification of a Jerusalem who knew of its sin (Lam. 1:11b–22), Jeremiah now addresses his audience from the perspective of a third-party observer of Judah’s fate. Lamentations 2 looks at the devastation Jerusalem endured at the hands of Babylon, devastation through which the Lord threw “down without pity” (v. 17). This comment is a bit of prophetic and poetic hyperbole, for God had indeed shown some pity by not wiping all the Judahites off the face of the earth. Still, when one considers the physical devastation Nebuchadnezzar wrought upon Jerusalem, destruction without pity is an apt description of what happened to the city. Physically speaking, Judah never really recovered from Babylon’s conquest. Even when the people returned to the land and rebuilt the temple, they could not recapture the glory of the kingdom and temple that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed (Ezra 3:8–13). Lamentations 2 recognizes that God had done what He promised (v. 17) and reminds us that we dare not think the Lord will refuse to keep His Word.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
Our Creator never fails to keep His promises. Even when the fulfillment of His Word seems slow in coming, we can nevertheless be assured that He has not forgotten it. We must also never be so prideful as to think that God only means part of what He says in Scripture and that He needs us to figure out what we should take seriously. If we pick and choose like the ancient false prophets did, then we will be well on our way to destruction. Let us believe all of God’s Word.