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Lamentations 2:4

4. He hath bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire.

4. Extendit arcum suum tanquam inimicus, stetit dextera ejus tanquam adversarius, et occidit omnex desiderabiles aspectu (oculo) in tabernaculo filiae Sion (vel, in tabernaculum filiae Sion); effudit tanquam ignem Iracundiam suam.

 

He employs now another metaphor, that God, who was wont to defend his people, now took up arms against them; for stating a part for the whole, he includes in the bow every other weapon. When, therefore, he says that God had bent his bow, it is the same as though he said that he was fully armed. The bow, then, as we have before seen, means every kind of weapon. He then adds, that his right hand stood as an adversary. Here he more plainly describes what he had before touched upon, even that God had not only given up his people to the will of their enemies, but that he himself had held up a banner to their enemies, and went before them with an armed hand. Nor is there a doubt but that by the right hand of God he means all their enemies; for it was necessary carefully to impress this fact on the minds of the people, that the war had not been brought by the Chaldeans, but that God had resolved thereby to punish the wickedness of the people, and especially their desperate obstinacy, for he had omitted nothing to restore the people to the right way.

Whenever, then, there is mention made here of God, let us know that the people are reminded, as I have already said, that they had to do with God, lest. they should forget this, or think that it was adverse fortune, or dream of some other causes of evils, as men are wont in this respect to be very ingenious in deceiving themselves. And we shall see this more clearly hereafter, where it is said, that God had thought to destroy the wall of Jerusalem; but this thought was the same as his decree. Then the Prophet explains there more fully what is yet here substantially found, even that God was brought forward thus before the people, that they might learn to humble themselves under his mighty hand. The hand of God was not indeed visible, but the Prophet shews that the Chaldeans were not alone to be regarded, but rather that the hidden hand of God, by which they were guided, ought to have been seen by the eyes of faith. It was, then, this hand of God that stood against the people.

It then follows, He slew all the chosen men; some read, “all things desirable;” but it seems more suitable to consider men as intended, as though he had said, that the flower of the people perished by the hand of God in the tabernacle of the daughter of Sion; though the last clause would unite better with the end of the verse, that on the tabernacle of the daughter of Sion God had poured forth his wrath, or his anger, as fire

He repeats the metaphor which he had used in the last verse; and this is what we ought carefully to notice; for God threatens by Isaiah that he would be a fire to devour his enemies:

“The light of Israel shall be a fire, and his Holy One a flame of fire, and it shall devour all briers and all kinds of wood.”
(Isaiah 10:7.)

There God threatened the Chaldeans, as though he had said that his vengeance would be dreadful, when as a patron and defender of his people he would contend with the Chaldeans. He there calls himself the light of Israel and the Holy One; and hence he said that he would be a fire and a flame as to the Chaldeans. But what does he say here? even that God had poured forth lt is wrath as fire, that its flame had devoured all around whatever was fair to be seen in Israel. We hence see that the people had provoked against themselves the vengeance of God, which would have been otherwise poured forth on their enemies; and thus the sin of the people was doubled. It follows, —

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