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Lamentations 3:43

43. Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied.

43. Obtexisti in ira et persequutus es nos; occidisti et non pepercisti.

 

At the first view, this complaint may seem to proceed from a bitter heart; for here the faithful complain that they had been slain, and then that God had executed his judgment as it were in darkness, without any indulgence; and the next verse confirms the same thing. But it is a simple acknowledgment of God’s righteous vengeance for in their extreme calamities the faithful could not declare that God dealt mercifully with them, for they had been subjected to extreme rigor, as we have before seen. Had they said that they had been leniently chastised, it would have been very strange, for the temple had been burnt, the city had been demolished, the kingdom had been overthrown, the people for the most part had been driven into exile, the remainder had been scattered, the covenant of God had been in a manner abolished; for it could not have been thought otherwise according to the judgment of the flesh. Had, then, the exiles in Chaldea said that God had smitten them leniently, would not such an extenuation have appeared very strange? and had also the Prophet spoken in the same strain? For the causes of sorrow were almost innumerable: every one had been robbed of his goods; then there were many widows, many orphans; but the chief causes of sorrow were the burning of the temple and the ruin of the kingdom. No wonder, then, that the faithful set forth here their aggravated evils: but yet they seek out no other cause than their own sins.

Hence they say now, that God had covered them over in wrath It is a most suitable metaphor; as though he had said, that God had executed his vengeance in thick darkness. For an object presented to the eye produces sympathy, and we are easily inclined to mercy when a sad spectacle is presented to us. Hence it is, that even the most savage enemies are sometimes softened, for they are led by their eyes to acts of humanity. The Prophet, then, in order to set forth the horrible vengeance of God, says that there had been a covering introduced, so that God had punished the wicked people in an implacable manner. But as I have said, he does not charge God with cruelty, though he says that he had covered them over in wrath. 196196     To “cover” is the idea given to the verb by the Sept., the Vulg, the Syr., and the Targ.; but Blayney and some others take it in the sense of fencing in, enclosing, in allusion to the practice of hunters; and the next verb, which means to pursue, to chase, favors this meaning, —
   Thou hast in wrath enclosed and chased us,
Thou hast slain and not spared.

   Then the same verb begins the next verse, —

   Thou hast enclosed thyself in a cloud,
That prayer might not pass through.

    — Ed

He then says, Thou hast pursued us and killed us, and hast not spared They intimate, in short, that God had been a severe judge; but they at the same time turned to themselves and sought there the cause, even that they might not, by their own hardness, provoke God against themselves, as hypocrites are wont to do. And the consciousness of evil leads us also to repentance; for whence is it that men grow torpid in their sins, except that they flatter themselves? When, therefore, God suspends his judgments, or when he moderates them, and does not punish men as they deserve, then, if there be any repentance, it is yet frigid, and soon vanishes. This, then, is the reason why God inflicts deadly strokes, because we feel not his hand except the stroke be as it were deadly. As, then, simple chastisement is not sufficient to lead us to repentance, the Prophet introduces the faithful as speaking thus, “Behold, thou hast in wrath covered us over, so as not to look on us,” so that there might be no opportunity for mercy, that is, that they might be the judges of themselves, and conclude from the atrocity of their punishment how grievously they must have provoked the wrath of God. It follows in the same sense, —


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