Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old. — Lamentations 5:21
The heartfelt, repentant cry of our focus verse brings to mind the testimony of Ray Roll. What an example he is of one who was “turned,” and found his days renewed “as of old”!
He testified, “I was here in the Apostolic Faith work for almost thirty years of my life. I had the privilege to teach a Sunday school class, and to be a guard on the old campground. But during the War, I was working for the telephone company. We started working long hours and I thought I didn’t have time to pray or to read my Bible. Then the devil came to me and said, ‘Your trouble is that you don’t know what the world has to offer. You ought to give it a try.’ I listened to him, and was gone from these folks for forty-five years. But God still loved me. Oh, His love and mercy are beyond understanding!
“One day I was walking across my living room floor when I fell flat on my face. They took me to the hospital and seven doctors checked me over. Finally they came to me and said, ‘There is nothing wrong with you, except you can’t walk.’ They sent me home and said they could do nothing for me.
“God began to talk to me. He said, ‘Do you know why you can’t walk? I made you that way! You were so stubborn you wouldn’t listen to Me. I have tried to tell you for years that you were on the wrong road, but you didn’t have time to listen. Now, maybe you will. Where are you going to spend eternity?’ God had my attention. I told Him if He would just give me one more chance to go back to the Apostolic Faith Church, I would serve Him the rest of my days. I wasn’t a young man by that time; I was past seventy-five years old when I made that statement. But I kept my promise.
“God said to me, ‘It’s a Tuesday night. They are having a service. Why don’t you go?’ I went upstairs and got dressed, and when I came down my wife said, ‘Where do you think you are going?’ I said, ‘I am going to church.’ She said, ‘You haven’t walked for a year. You can’t drive the car. How are you going to get there?’ I said, ‘The Lord will get me there.’ I took my cane and hobbled out to my car. I couldn’t even lift my right foot off the ground, but I got in the car and started to this blessed place. I got to a stop sign and had to use my left foot to brake. There were stop lights the rest of the way to the church, but when I came to them, God turned them green. He saw that I was headed the right way and He didn’t want me to stop.
“When I pulled into the parking lot, I got out of my car and started walking into the church. The thought came to me, I haven’t walked for a year, and now I am walking! God had healed me right there on the spot. I walked in the door and a sister in the narthex greeted me. I told her, ‘God is expecting me.’ As the meeting went forth, oh, it brought back memories! And thank God, when the altar call was given, I didn’t take my cane and hobble down the aisle. I didn’t walk down the aisle. I ran to the altar! At the place of prayer, I poured out my heart and said, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I meant it from the bottom of my heart, and He rolled the burden of sin away. When I left the church that night, I had the peace and joy of Heaven down in my heart. He changed my life and made it worth living. How I thank Him for what He has done for me!”
Our text today is a prayer, framed in terms of great urgency. Like Ray Roll, the prophet made a fervent appeal to God, remembering the mercy of the Lord and believing that help would be forthcoming. Although God had turned away from His people because of their sin, He did not abandon them — and that was their great hope.
Because of the sinful state of mankind, there is no hope for man except in the Lord. What a wonderful and gracious God we serve!
This chapter is a prayer, and is the only chapter in Lamentations which was not written in acrostic form, nor in the style of a funeral dirge. It was designed to be the penitent prayer of a broken nation — a nation that had finally realized the cost of angering God. By turning its back on Him, Judah had lost the privileges, blessings, and protection that it had enjoyed for so many years, and in this portion of the book, the prophet recorded the people’s miseries.
The first eighteen verses of chapter 5 give a glimpse as to why this once-great nation was suffering. In verse 1, the prophet, speaking as a voice of the people, asked God to once again look upon them and consider their suffering. Verses 2-18 paint a picture of a nation in ruin. Their homes were inhabited by strangers (verse 2). The structure of the Jewish society of that time had collapsed. The sins of the past, plus the rebelliousness of that day, had finally caught up with them (verse 7). Those who had once been their servants were now ruling. Food was scarce and the people had heavy burdens. Women were abused by their conquerors (verse 11). Respect for elders and dignitaries was gone. A nation that had once lived joyfully was reduced to a state of mourning. The Temple that had been so sacred to the Jewish nation was reduced to rubble, and wild animals even roamed on what once had been holy grounds.
In the last four verses of our text, the focus turns to the greatness of God. In verse 19, the prophet acknowledges God. With desperate longing, he verbalizes a plea designed to guide the people to a position of humility and repentance, asking God to remember them and turn away the fierceness of His great wrath.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
V. The petition for the restoration of the remnant (5:1-22)
A. The lament of the remnant (5:1-18)
B. The prayer of the remnant (5:19-22)
How grateful we should be for the hope we have in God!