The Lament

In The Word

Read: Ezekiel 18-19


God Deals Justly with Individuals

18 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “What do you people mean by using this proverb about the land of Israel, saying,

‘The fathers eat sour grapes,
But it is the children’s teeth that have become blunt’?

As I live,” declares the Lord God, “you certainly are not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore. Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.

“But if a man is righteous and practices justice and righteousness, if he does not eat at the mountain shrines or raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman during her menstrual period—and if a man does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, does not commit robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing, and if he does not lend money at interest or take interest, if he keeps his hand from injustice and executes true justice between one person and another, if he walks in My statutes and keeps My ordinances so as to deal faithfully—he is righteous and will certainly live,” declares the Lord God.

10 “However, he may father a violent son who sheds blood, and does any one of these things to a brother 11 (though he himself did not do any of these things), that is, he even eats at the mountain shrines, and defiles his neighbor’s wife,12 oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore a pledge, but raises his eyes to the idols and commits abomination, 13 lends money at interest and takes interest; will he live? He will not live! He has committed all these abominations, he shall certainly be put to death; his blood will be on himself.

14 “Now behold, he has fathered a son who saw all his father’s sins which he committed, but he has seen them and does not do likewise. 15 He does not eat at the mountain shrines or raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel; he has not defiled his neighbor’s wife, 16 nor oppressed anyone, nor retained a pledge, nor committed robbery; instead, he gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing, 17 he keeps his hand from the poor, does not take any kind ofinterest on loans, but executes My ordinances, and walks in My statutes; he will not die for his father’s guilt, he will certainly live. 18 As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what was not good among his people, behold, he will die for his guilt.

19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not suffer the punishment for the father’s guilt?’ When the son has practiced justice and righteousness and has kept all My statutes and done them, he shall certainly live. 20 The person who sins will die. A son will not suffer the punishment for the father’s guilt, nor will a father suffer the punishment for the son’s guilt; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.

21 “But if the wicked person turns from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall certainly live; he shall not die. 22 All his offenses which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live. 23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he would turn from his ways and live?

24 “But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness, commits injustice and does according to all the abominations that the wicked person does, will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed and his sin which he has committed; for them he will die. 25 Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ Hear now, house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right? 26 When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness, commits injustice and dies because of it, for his injustice which he has committed he dies. 27 But when a wicked person turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life. 28 Since he understood and turned away from all his offenses which he had committed, he shall certainly live; he shall not die. 29 But the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ Are My ways not right, house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not right?

30 “Therefore I will judge you, house of Israel, each according to his conduct,” declares the Lord God. “Repent and turn away from all your offenses, so that wrongdoing does not become a stumbling block to you. 31 Hurl away from you all your offenses which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why should you die, house of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live!”

Song of Mourning for the Leaders of Israel

19 “As for you, take up a song of mourning for the leaders of Israel and say,

‘What was your mother?
A lioness among lions!
She lay down among young lions,
She raised her cubs.
When she brought up one of her cubs,
He became a young lion,
And he learned to tear his prey;
He devoured people.
Then nations heard about him;
He was caught in their trap,
And they brought him with hooks
To the land of Egypt.
When she saw, as she waited,
That her hope was lost,
She took another of her cubs
And made him a young lion.
And he walked about among the lions,
He became a young lion;
He learned to tear his prey;
He devoured people.
He destroyed their palaces
And laid waste their cities;
And the land and its fullness were appalled
Because of the sound of his roaring.
Then nations set against him
On every side from their provinces,
And they spread their net over him;
He was caught in their trap.
They put him in a wooden collar with hooks
And brought him to the king of Babylon;
They brought him in hunting nets
So that his voice would no longer be heard
On the mountains of Israel.
10 Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard,
Planted by the waters;
It was fruitful and thick with branches
Because of abundant waters.
11 And it had strong stems fit for scepters of rulers,
And its height was raised above the clouds
So that it was seen in its height with the mass of its branches.
12 But it was uprooted in fury;
It was thrown down to the ground;
And the east wind dried up its fruit.
Its strong stem was torn out
So that it withered;
The fire consumed it.
13 And now it is planted in the wilderness,
In a dry and thirsty land.
14 And fire has gone out from its stem;
It has consumed its shoots and fruit,
So that there is no strong stem in it,
A scepter to rule.’”

This is a song of mourning, and has become a song of mourning.

New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation

Walking In The Word


Ezekiel consistently referred to the two polar opposite events in Hebrew history: the exodus from Egypt and the exile into Babylon. Exodus was about salvation, deliverance from Egyptian slavery to a life of freedom. When celebrated, there was singing and dancing. Exile was about judgment, immense suffering where God’s people were made slaves in Babylon. It was a terrible time of devastation and lament. The two events depicted the wide range of the Hebrew experience. On one side, there was the joyous exaltation that accompanied salvation. On the other was the suffering which was associated with judgment; Israel was vacillating between the two events.

Ezekiel 19:1 instructed the prophet to “take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel.” A lament is a chant or song of sorrow expressing grief related to mourning. Laments are written out of an “exile experience.” David orders his people be taught how to lament (2 Samuel 1:18). This is not instruction on whining and complaining. According to Philip Yancey, “We whine about things we have little control over; we lament what we believe ought to be changed.” Job-like, the psalmists and prophets clung to a belief in God’s ultimate goodness, no matter how things appeared at the present, and cried out for justice. They lamented that God’s will was not being done on earth as it was in heaven. A lament is proof of God entering our suffering with us and counseling us through the experience. 

Write a lament; use Psalm 57 for a pattern. Check out what really happened (1 Samuel 24).

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