The written scroll (Ezek 2:8-2:10)

“‘But you!

Son of man!

Hear

What I say to you!

Do not be rebellious

Like that rebellious house!

Open your mouth!

Eat what I give you!’

When I looked,

A hand

Was stretched out

To me.

A written scroll

Was in it.

He spread it

Before me.

It had writing

On the front

As well as on the back.

Written on it

Were words

Of lamentation,

Of mourning,

Of woe.”

The voice of Yahweh continued to speak to Ezekiel as the son of man. He was to listen to what Yahweh had to say to him. He was not to be rebellious like the rebellious house of Israel. He was to open his mouth and eat what Yahweh was going to give to him. Then when Ezekiel looked up, he saw a hand stretched out to him with a written scroll in it. This hand spread the scroll out before him. Ezekiel saw that there was writing on the front and the back of this scroll. Ezekiel even read it. He saw that it had words of lamentation, of mourning, and of woe.

The Greek introduction

“It happened

After the captivity

Of Israel,

After the destruction

Of Jerusalem

The prophet Jeremiah

Cried.

He offered

This lamentation

Over Jerusalem.”

Most of the conjecture about the author of this book comes from this introductory title to the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible. It clearly states that this work takes place after the captivity of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem. It explicitly says that Jeremiah was the one crying as he offered this lamentation over Jerusalem. Although this introduction was not in the original Hebrew text, the Greek translators believed that Jeremiah was the author. However, the style is not like Jeremiah. The style is a Hebrew acrostic poem that has each verse starts with a different sequential consonant of the 22 letter Hebrew alphabet. There were other acrostic works, especially the psalms, with the most prominent being Psalm 119.

Panic in the land (Jer 10:19-10:21)

“Woe is me!

Because of my hurt,

My wound is severe.

But I said.

‘Truly this is my punishment.

I must bear it.’

My tent is destroyed.

All my cords are broken.

My children have gone from me.

They are no more.

There is no one

To spread my tent again,

There is no one

To set up my curtains.

The shepherds are stupid.

They do not inquire of Yahweh.

Therefore they have not prospered.

All their flock is scattered.”

Jeremiah presents this lamentation about what was happening to him personally. He has been hurt and wounded. He understood that this was his punishment and that he had to bear it. His tent was destroyed with all its cords. In this sense, it is also like Second Isaiah. His children have left him. There was no one to help him with his tent and its curtains. The idea of the stupid shepherds is a reference to their rulers. They never inquired of Yahweh, so that they have not prospered. Their flocks have scattered all over the place.

The cry to Yahweh (Ps 143:1-143:2)

A psalm of David

“Hear my prayer!

Yahweh!

Give ear to my supplications!

In your faithfulness!

Answer me!

In your righteousness!

Do not enter into judgment with your servant!

No one living is righteous before you.”

Psalm 143 is another lamentation psalm of David as indicated in its title. David once again asked Yahweh to hear his prayer. He wanted an answer because Yahweh was faithful and righteous. He did not want Yahweh to judge him, the humble servant. In a theme that will be repeated by Paul in the New Testament writings, he concluded that no living person was righteous before Yahweh.

The current terrible situation (Ps 109:1-109:5)

To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of David

“Do not be silent!

O God of my praise!

Wicked and deceitful mouths

Are opened against me.

They speak against me

With lying tongues.

They beset me

With words of hate.

They attack me without cause.

In return for my love

They accuse me.

Even while I make prayer for them,

They accuse me.

Thus they reward me

With evil for good.

They reward me

With hatred for my love.”

Psalm 109 is a Davidic personal prayer for deliverance within a choral setting. This is a lamentation of David against his enemies. As per usual, he began by asking God not to be silent. He explained that the wicked and deceitful people had opened their mouths against him with their lying tongues. Once again, they hated him without cause, another common lament. He tried to love them, but they accused him. When he prayed for them, they rewarded his good with evil. His love was returned as hatred. David was having a hard time getting along with his wicked foes.

National lament (Ps 79:1-79:4)

A psalm of Asaph

“O God!

The nations have come into your inheritance.

They have defiled your holy temple.

They have laid Jerusalem in ruins.

They have given the bodies of your servants

To the birds of the air for food.

The flesh of your faithful has been given

To the wild animals of the earth.

They have poured out their blood like water,

All around Jerusalem.

There was no one to bury them.

We have become a taunt to our neighbors.

We are mocked.

We are derided

By those around us.”

Psalm 79 is another psalm of Asaph. This national lamentation deplores the defeat and ruin of Jerusalem and its Temple, probably at the time of the captivity around 587 BCE. The bodies of the faithful were given over to the birds of the air and the wild animals. Their blood was all around Jerusalem. No one was there to bury them. The Israelites had become a taunt to their neighbors. They were mocked and derided by everybody around them.

Seeking Yahweh (Ps 77:1-77:3)

To the choirmaster leader, according to Jeduthun, a psalm of Asaph

“I cry aloud to God!

I cry aloud to God!

Thus he may hear me!

In the day of my trouble

I seek Yahweh!

In the night

My hand is stretched out without wearying.

My soul refuses to be comforted.

I think of God!

I moan!

I meditate!

My spirit faints!”

Selah

Psalm 77 is another in the choral psalms of Asaph, the Temple singer.   This time it is according to Jeduthun, the name of one of the Levite Merari families that David appointed as music master in 1 Chronicles, chapters 16 and 25. Jeduthun was a trumpet player. His sons led the music in the Temple. His name appears here and in Psalms 39 and 62. Once again this is a lamentation about how bad things are. Asaph or this psalmist is seeking Yahweh with a personal cry to God. He cried out aloud so that God could hear him. When he was in trouble he always sought Yahweh. He spent his nights with outstretched arms in prayer. He refused to be comforted. He was thinking of God. He moaned and meditated as his spirit became faint. This section ends with the musical interlude meditative pause of Selah.