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Lamentations 5:20

20. Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time?

20. Ut quid in perpetuum oblivisceris nostri, deseres nos in protractionem (vel, longitudinem) dierum?

 

He seems, indeed, here to expostulate with God; but the faithful, even when they patiently bear their evils, and submit to God’s scourges, do yet familiarly deposit their complaints in his bosom, and thus unburden themselves. We see that David prayed, and no doubt by the real impulse of the Spirit, and at the same time expostulated,

“Why dost thou forget me perpetually?” (Psalm 13:1.)

Nor is there a doubt but that the Prophet took this complaint from David. Let us, then, know, that though the faithful sometimes take this liberty of expostulating with God, they yet do not put off reverence, modesty, submission, or humility. For when the Prophet thus inquired why God should for ever forget his people and forsake them, he no doubt relied on his own prophecies, which he knew had proceeded from God, and thus he deferred his hope until the end of the seventy years, for that time had been prefixed by God. But it was according to human judgment that he complained in his own person, and in that of the faithful, that the affliction was long; nor is there a doubt but that he dictated this form of prayer to the faithful, that k might be retained after his death. He, then, formed this prayer, not only according to his own feeling, and for the direction to those of his own age; but his purpose was to supply the faithful with a prayer after his own death, so that they might flee to the mercy of God.

We now, then, perceive how complaints of this kind ought to be understood, when the prophets asked, “How long?” as though they stimulated God to hasten the time; for it cannot be, when we are pressed down by many evils, but that we wish help to be accelerated; for faith does not wholly strip us of all cares and anxieties. But when we thus pray, let us remember that our times are at the will and in the hand of God, and that we ought not to hasten too much. It is, then, lawful for us on the one hand to ask God to hasten; but, on the other hand, we ought to check our impatience and wait until the suitable time comes. Both these things the Prophet no doubt joined together when he said, Why shouldest thou, perpetually forget us and forsake us? 238238     
   Why shouldest thou to the end forget us —
Forsake us for the length of our days?

   “To the end,” or perpetually, and “the length of our days,” are the same. The length of days, as it appears from Psalm 23:6, means the extent of the present life; the phrase is there used as synonymous with all the days of one’s life. Might not the Prophet here refer to the life of those then living? As to restoration after seventy years, he could have had no doubt. He seems to have pleaded for the restoration of the generation then living. — Ed.

We yet see that he judged according to the evils then endured; and doubtless he believed that God had not forsaken his own people nor forgotten them, as no oblivion can happen to him. But, as I have already said, the Prophet mentioned these complaints through human infirmity, not that men might indulge themselves in their own thoughts, but that they might ascend by degrees to God and overcome all these temptations. It follows, —


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