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Lamentations 2:1

1. How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger!

1. Quomodo obnubilavit in iracundia sua Dominus filiam Sion, projecit a coelo in terram decorem Israel, et non recordatus est scabelli pedum suorum in dic iracundiae!

 

The Prophet again exclaims in wonder, that an incredible thing had happened, which was like a prodigy; for at the first sight it seemed very unreasonable, that a people whom God had not only received into favor, but with whom he had made a perpetual covenant, should thus be forsaken by him. For though men were a hundred times perfidious, yet God never changes, but remains unchangeable in his faithfulness; and we know that his covenant was not made to depend on the merits of men. Whatsoever, then, the people might be, yet it behooved God to continue in his purpose, and not to annul the promise made to Abraham. Now, when Jerusalem was reduced to desolation, there was as it were all abolition of God’s covenant. There is, then, no wonder that the Prophet here exclaims, as on account of some prodigy, How can it be that God hath clouded or darkened, etc.

We must, however, observe at the same time, that the Prophet did not mean here to invalidate the fidelity or constancy of God, but thus to rouse the attention of his own nation, who had become torpid in their sloth; for though they were pressed down under a load of evils, yet they had become hardened in their perverseness. But it was impossible that any one should really call on God, except he was humbled in mind, and brought the sacrifice of which we have spoken, even a humble and contrite spirit. (Psalm 51:19.) It was, then, the Prophet’s object to soften the hardness which he knew prevailed in almost the whole people. This was the reason why he exclaimed, in a kind of astonishment, How has God clouded, etc. 148148     The verb here is in the future tense, and the clause might be thus rendered, —
   Why should the Lord in his wrath becloud
the daughter of Sion?

   And if ישבה, in Lamentations 1:1, be in the future tense, as it may be, that clause may be rendered in the same way, —

    

   Why should sit alone the city that was full of people?

   Then follows here, as in the former instance, a description of what had happened to Sion, —

    

   He hath cast from heaven to earth the glory of Israel,
And not remembered his footstool in the day of his wrath.

   At the same time, the clauses may both be rendered as proposed in a note on Lamentations 1:1, and the tenses of the verbs be preserved. The verb here is clearly in the future tense, and the verb in the former instance may be so; and the future in Hebrew is often to be taken as the present, as the case is in Welsh.

   How this! in his wrath becloud does the Lord the daughter of Sion!

    — Ed.

Some render the words, “How has God raised up,” etc., which may be allowed, provided it be not taken in a good sense, for it is said, in his wrath; but in this case the words to raise up and to cast down ought to be read conjointly; for when one wishes to break in pieces an earthen vessel, he not only casts it on the ground, but he raises it up, that it may be thrown down with greater force. We may, then, take this meaning, that God, in order that he might with greater violence break in pieces his people, had raised them up, not to honor them, but in order to dash them more violently on the ground. However, as this sense seems perhaps too refined, I am content with the first explanation, that God had clouded the daughter of Zion in his wrath; and then follows an explanation, that he had cast her from heaven to the earth. So then God covered with darkness his people, when he drew them down from the high dignity which they had for a time enjoyed. He had, then, cast on the earth all the glory of Israel, and remembered not his footstool

The Prophet seems here indirectly to contend with God, because he had not spared his own sanctuary; for God, as it has been just stated, had chosen Mount Sion for himself, where he designed to be prayed to, because he had placed there the memorial of his name. As, then, he had not spared his own sanctuary, it did not appear consistent with his constancy, and he also seemed thus to have disregarded his own glory. But the design of the Prophet is rather to shew to the people how much God’s wrath had been kindled, when he spared not even his own sanctuary. For he takes this principle as granted, that God is never without reason angry, and never exceeds the due measure of punishment. As, then, God’s wrath was so great that he destroyed his own Temple, it was a token of dreadful wrath; and what was the cause but the sins of men? for God, as I have said, always preserves moderation in his judgments. He, then, could not have better expressed to the people the heinousness of their sins, than by laying before them this fact, that God remembered not his footstool

And the Temple, by a very suitable metaphor, is called the footstool of God. It is, indeed, called his habitation; for in Scripture the Temple is often said to be the house of God. It was then the house, the habitation, and the rest of God. But as men are ever inclined to superstition, in order to raise up their thoughts above earthly elements, we are reminded, on the other hand, in Scripture, that the Temple was the footstool of God. So in the Psalms,

“Adore ye before his footstool,” (Psalm 99:5;)

and again,

“We shall adore in the place where his feet stand.”
(Psalm 132:7.)

We, then, see that the two expressions, apparently different, do yet well agree, that the Temple was the house of God and his habitation, and that yet it was only his footstool. It was the house of God, because the faithful found by experience that he was there present; as, then, God gave tokens of his presence, the Temple was rightly called the house; of God, his rest and habitation. But that the faithful might not fix their minds on the visible sanctuary, and thus by indulging a gross imagination, fall into superstition, and put an idol in the place of God, the Temple was called the footstool of God. For as it was a footstool, it behooved the faithful to rise up higher and to know that God was really sought, only when they raised their thoughts above the world. We now perceive what was the purpose of this mode of speaking.

God is said not to have remembered his Temple, not because he had wholly disregarded it, but because the destruction of the Temple could produce no other opinion in men. All, then, who saw that the Temple had been burnt by profane hands, and pulled down after it had been plundered, thought that the Temple was forsaken by God; and so also he speaks by Ezekiel, (Ezekiel 10:18.) Then this oblivion, or not remembering, refers to the thoughts of men; for however God may have remembered the Temple, yet he seemed for a time to have disregarded it. We must, at the same time, bear in mind what I have said, that the Prophet here did not intend to dispute with God, or to contend with him, but, on the contrary, to shew what the people deserved; for God was so indignant on account of their sins, that he suffered his own Temple to be profaned. The same thing also follows respecting the kingdom, —


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