The Message of Lamentations (Book Review)

Darren Hindle | Jul 22nd, 2015

Written by Christopher J.H. Wright
Part of 'The Bible Speaks Today' Series

What would we lose if our Bible didn't have Lamentations?

In his brief but brilliant exposition Chris Wright reminds us that Lamentations is still a book for us today. Because Lamentations is part of our Bible it still speaks to us today. But is it possible that we have stopped listening?

Chris humbly shows us why it looks like we have lost Lamentations:

  1. How often do we talk about or study the most traumatic event in Old Testament history? When the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 587bc the Davidic king and the city of Zion and the temple all seemed utterly lostdespite God’s promises.
  2. When was the last time that you heard someone at church lament in a service? Lamentations, the psalms of lament (the most common type of psalm) and more laments are written for us – compare this with the songs and other parts of our services.
  3. How often do we think of Lamentations when we think of Jesus? The intensity of God’s judgement, the suffering from it and the hope in God during it all find echoes at the cross.

Chris asked himself, ‘Why had I neglected this book for so long and never really studied it in depth before?’

Honest to God

But what would happen if we rediscovered Lamentations? Chris has called his exposition ‘Honest to God’. And this is the godly goal that he guides us to. In a brief 166 pages he helps us rediscover the challenge and reward in these words from our God.

The voices and silence for us to hear

Two voices make up the book of Lamentations: the personified city of Jerusalem and the poet who has seen misery under the rod of God’s wrath. By hearing these voices of lament we honour the people of God – we have chosen not to simply pass by them in their suffering. And by hearing God’s great silence in the book we honour his just judgement. Chris rightly notes that suffering is not always judgement from God. But it is inescapable in Lamentations that God’s intense judgement seems excessive but is just for a persistent refusal to listen to his words.

Thankfully it’s not the last word

As Christians we have a much greater view of the hope that Lamentations longs for. In Christ coming to die for us, rise for us and return for us we share in Lamentations thin but firm ray of hope. And because we are still waiting for his return to judge and heal our sin-filled world we can and should turn to this book which is saturated in prayer:

Even when it is angry, pain-soaked, protesting, grieving, questioning prayer, it is prayer anyway. And it is prayer addressed to the Lord – the God whose faithfulness, love and compassion are eternal, and whose anger, though real and terrible, will not last forever (p. 56).