The disgraced priests and elders (Lam 4:16-4:16)

Phe

“Yahweh himself

Has scattered them.

He will regard them

No more.

No honor

Was shown

To the priests.

No favor

To the elders.”

Yahweh himself had scattered these immoral leaders. He did not have any regard for them any longer. No honor was to be shown to any of these priests, while the elders were not to be favored. Yahweh had clearly turned on these so-called spiritual leaders. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Phe in this acrostic poem.

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The enemies (Lam 3:46-3:48)

Phe

“All our enemies

Have opened

Their mouths

Against us.

Panic has come

Upon us.

Pitfall has come

Upon us.

There is devastation.

There is destruction.

My eyes flow

With rivers of tears

Because of the destruction

Of my people.”

Once again, this author personalizes his experiences. He turned to his enemies who have railed against him and his friends. Panic, pitfalls, devastation, and destruction have come upon them. He had so many tears flowing that he could create a river, since he was crying about the destruction of his people. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Phe in this acrostic poem.

The enemies of Jerusalem (Lam 2:16-2:16)

Phe

“All your enemies

Open their mouths

Against you.

They hiss,

They gnash

Their teeth.

They cry.

‘We have devoured her!

O!

This is the day

We longed for!

At last,

We have seen it!’”

Once again, this author portrays the words and attitudes of outsiders, the enemies of Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem. They have opened their mouths against Jerusalem. They have hissed and gnashed their teeth. They have proclaimed that they had now devoured Jerusalem. The day that they longed for had arrived as they saw it with their own eyes. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Phe. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

No one to comfort Zion (Lam 1:17-1:17)

Phe

“Zion stretches out

Her hands.

But there is no one

To comfort her.

Yahweh has commanded

Against Jacob.

His neighbors should

Become his foes.

Jerusalem has become

A filthy thing

Among them.”

Now we are back to a description about Zion, rather than a first person lament from Jerusalem. Zion wanted to be comforted, but there was no one to reach out to her outstretched hands. Yahweh had commanded that the neighbors of Jacob should become his enemies. Jerusalem itself has become a filthy useless thing among its neighbors. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Phe. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

Steady my steps (Ps 119:129-119:136)

Phe

“Your decrees are wonderful.

Therefore my soul keeps them.

The unfolding of your words gives light.

It imparts understanding to the simple.

With open mouth I pant.

Because I long for your commandments.

Turn to me!

Be gracious to me!

It is your custom toward those who love your name.

Keep my steps steady

According to your promise!

Never let iniquity have dominion over me!

Redeem me from human oppression!

Thus I may keep your precepts.

Make your face shine upon your servant.

Teach me your statutes!

My eyes shed streams of tears.

Because your law is not kept.”

The psalmist wanted to remain steady in his steps that were following the law, since Yahweh’s decrees are wonderful. The unfolding of his words gives light so that he has a simple understanding. He longed and panted for Yahweh’s commandments. He wanted Yahweh to be gracious to him because Yahweh loved him. He wanted his steps kept steady just as Yahweh had promised. He did not want iniquity to have dominion over him. He wanted to be redeemed from human oppression. He would then be able to keep the precepts of Yahweh because his face shines on him. He wanted to learn the statutes. He cried when he learned that some people did not keep the law. So ends this section on the seventeenth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Phe.