Lamentations 3:31-33

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ServantofGod

Puritan Board Junior
Ok, I'm kinda confused about this passage-


31 For the Lord will not
cast off forever,
32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33 for he does not willingly afflict
or grieve the children of men.


Ok. My problem is with the first saying from verse 32-but, though he cause grief,

And verse 33-for he does not willingly afflict
or grieve the children of men.


I know God doesn't contradict Himself, so what am I missing?:um:
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Read "willingly," literally "from his heart," into the second line of verse 33 also: "or [willingly] grieve the children of men." It is common in Hebrew to carry over a qualification into a subsequent clause without expressing it.
 

ServantofGod

Puritan Board Junior
Well, I want to know why it says that He causes grief, and then, it says He doesn't willingly cause grief. Whats with that? He does but doesn't...
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Originally posted by ServantofGod
Well, I want to know why it says that He causes grief, and then, it says He doesn't willingly cause grief. Whats with that? He does but doesn't...

Thomas Gataker: "His bounty and kindness floweth from Him freely of itself, his severity and harshness ariseth from somewhat in us." Annotations in loc.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
I think that in v 33 we should interpret it as saying that He doesn't afflict or grieve men as a source of happiness or delight for Himself.
Sort of like Ezekiel 18:23.
 

ServantofGod

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by SolaScriptura
I think that in v 33 we should interpret it as saying that He doesn't afflict or grieve men as a source of happiness or delight for Himself.
Sort of like Ezekiel 18:23.

Hmmm....that would make sense kinda. But doesn't He in His pleasure create"vessels of destruction"? (Sorry to start down this well-trodden path again) Why would He do something that does not delight Him?:um:
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Well, the bottom line is that passage such as Lam 3:32-33 and Ezek 18:23 ARE in the Bible.

As for why... I think that Deut 29:29 applies here...
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Matthew Poole, Annotations:

Lam 3:31. This is that which beareth up his spirits, that though the Lord may for a time estrange himself from his people, yet he will not always forsake them.

Lam 3:32. But though, as a prudent parent, he may see reason to cause grief in and to afflict his own people, yet as a tender good father, that pitieth his children in misery, he will have compassion upon them, having not only mercies, but a multitude or abundance of mercies.

Lam 3:33. In the Hebrew it is, he doth not afflict from his heart, that is, with pleasure and delight; or (which seemeth the best sense to me) not from his own mere motion without a cause given him from the persons afflicted. Hence judgment is called God's strange work. Showing mercy is his proper natural work, which floweth from himself without any cause in the creature. Judgment is his strange work, to which he never proceedeth but when provoked, and as it were forced from the creature, whence it followeth that he cannot delight in it.

Thomas Case, Treatise on Afflictions:

It is not to gratify their enemies that God keeps them so long under their lash, but to teach them; not that God afflicts willingly, etc. Lam 3:33, but that he may do them good in their latter end; that by the rod of correction he may drive out that folly which is in their hearts. And when that is done, then they shall stay no longer for their deliverance; then God opens the prison doors, and throws the rod into the fire; and infinite mercy it is, that they are not delivered till they are bettered; that God will not cease chastening till they are willing to cease sinning; saying, "I have borne affliction, I will offend no more; that which I see not, teach thou me; and if I have done wickedly, I will do so no more."

Jonathan Edwards, Works, Vol. I, p. 114, A Dissertation Concerning the End For Which God Made the World:

1. According to the Scripture, communicating good to the creatures is what is in itself pleasing to God. And this is not merely subordinately agreeable, and esteemed valuable on account of its relation to a further end, as it is in executing justice in punishing the sins of men; but what God is inclined to on its own account, and what he delights in simply and ultimately. For though God is sometimes in Scripture spoken of as taking pleasure in punishing men's sins, Deut 28:63, "The Lord will rejoice over you, to destroy you." Ezek 5:13, "Then shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted." Yet God is often spoken of as exercising goodness and showing mercy, with delight, in a manner quite different, and opposite to that of his executing wrath. For the latter is spoken of as what God proceeds to with backwardness and reluctance; the misery of the creature being not agreeable to him on its own account. Neh 9:17, "Thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness." Ps 103:8, "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy." Ps 145:8, "The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy." We have again almost the same words, Jon 4:2; Mic 7:18, "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, etc."”He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy." Ezek 18:32, "I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye." Lam 3:33, "He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." Ezek 33:11, "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel!" 2 Pet 3:9, "Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

Ralph Erskine, Works, Vol. I, p. 41, The Sword of Justice Awakened Against God's Fellow:

3. Hence behold the wonderful concurrence of the glorious persons of the blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to carry on the work of our redemption: for here is the Lord of Hosts, Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, One God, essentially considered, prosecuting the work of redemption; and saying, with respect to Christ, the second person of the Godhead, considered as he became man and mediator, "Awake, O sword, against the man that is my fellow." [Zech 13:7] Not that God the Father delighted in the suffering, as such, of his innocent Son; for, "he afflicts not willingly even the children of men:" [Lam 3:33] but considering the end and the effect that was to follow, the seed that he should beget to eternal life, and the captives whom he was to redeem; in this respect, "It pleased the Lord to bruise him;" [Isa 53:10] when he might have suffered all mankind to lie still in their forlorn condition, it pleased him to give his life a ransom for many. Here the whole Trinity is in concert, each person to perform his own part: wherein all the bright perfections of the divine nature do gloriously conspire. O! how does God commend his love to us, in that whilst we were yet sinners, Christ died for us? Rom 5:8. And, O how he loved us, who washed us from our sins in his own blood? Rev 1:5.

George Swinnock, Works, Vol. IV, p. 418, Chap. 9, God incomparable in his mercy and patience:

God saith, "Fury is not in him," Isa 27:4; "judgment is his strange work," Isa 28:21; "He doth not afflict willingly," Lam 3:33; but "delighteth in the prosperity of his servants," Ps 35:27. It is not his nature to disturb and destroy men, it is their sin that forceth thunderbolts into his hands, Isa 44:22; his delight is in mercy, Mic 7:18. The blessed God hath multitude of mercies, Ps 51:1, to answer the multitude of the creature's miseries, abundant mercy, 1 Pet 1:3. He is said to be rich in mercy, Eph 2:4. "Exceeding abundant rich in mercy," Eph 2:7. His mercy, as oil, swims on the top of all his attributes, is his delight: Jer 32:41, "I will rejoice over them, to do them good." His mercy, as gold, being most excellent, overlayeth all his works: Ps 145:7, "His tender mercy is over all his works." His mercy is to all admiration: "Oh how excellent is thy lovingkindness," Ps 36:7. "Oh how great is thy goodness," Ps 31:19. His mercy is beyond all apprehension; "Thy mercy reacheth to the heavens," Ps 108:4; 1 Cor 2:9. He is styled the Father of mercies, 1 Cor 1:3; not the Father of justice or fury.

Matthew Henry, Commentary:

VI. That God will graciously return to his people with seasonable comforts according to the time that he has afflicted them, Lam 3:31-32. Therefore the sufferer is thus penitent, thus patient, because he believes that God is gracious and merciful, which is the great inducement both to evangelical repentance and to Christian patience. We may bear ourselves up with this, 1. That, when we are cast down, yet we are not cast off; the father's correcting his son is not a disinheriting of him. 2. That though we may seem to be cast off for a time, while sensible comforts are suspended and desired salvations deferred, yet we are not really cast off, because not cast off for ever; the controversy with us shall not be perpetual. 3. That, whatever sorrow we are in, it is what God has allotted us, and his hand is in it. It is he that causes grief, and therefore we may be assured it is ordered wisely and graciously; and it is but for a season, and when need is, that we are in heaviness, 1 Pet 1:6. 4. That God has compassions and comforts in store even for those whom he has himself grieved. We must be far from thinking that, though God cause grief, the world will relieve and help us. No; the very same that caused the grief must bring in the favour, or we are undone. Una eademque manus vulnus opemque tulit"”The same hand inflicted the wound and healed it. He has torn, and he will heal us, Hos 6:1. 5. That, when God returns to deal graciously with us, it will not be according to our merits, but according to his mercies, according to the multitude, the abundance, of his mercies. So unworthy we are that nothing but an abundant mercy will relieve us; and from that what may we not expect? And God's causing our grief ought to be no discouragement at all to those expectations.

VII. That, when God does cause grief, it is for wise and holy ends, and he takes not delight in our calamities, Lam 3:33. He does indeed afflict, and grieve the children of men; all their grievances and afflictions are from him. But he does not do it willingly, not from the heart; so the word is. 1. He never afflicts us but when we give him cause to do it. He does not dispense his frowns as he does his favours, ex mero motu"”from his mere good pleasure. If he show us kindness, it is because so it seems good unto him; but, if he write bitter things against us, it is because we both deserve them and need them. 2. He does not afflict with pleasure. He delights not in the death of sinners, or the disquiet of saints, but punishes with a kind of reluctance. He comes out of his place to punish, for his place is the mercyseat. He delights not in the misery of any of his creatures, but, as it respects his own people, he is so far from it that in all their afflictions he is afflicted and his soul is grieved for the misery of Israel. 3. He retains his kindness for his people even when he afflicts them. If he does not willingly grieve the children of men, much less his own children. However it be, yet God is good to them (Ps 73:1), and they may by faith see love in his heart even when they see frowns in his face and a rod in his hand.

Thomas Brooks, Works, Vol. II, p. 142, The Privy Key of Heaven:

(3.) Thirdly, Parents take no pleasure, they take no delight, to use the rod. Every lash the father gives the child, fetches blood from his own heart. The father corrects the child, and sighs over the child; he whips the child, and at the same time weeps over the child. Nothing goes more against the parents' heart, nor against their hair, than the bringing of their children under the rod of correction. It is so here, Lam 3:33, "For he doth not afflict willingly," or, as the Hebrew runs, "he doth not afflict," millibbo, "from his heart, nor grieve the children of men." You often read that he delights in mercy, Mic 7:15; but where do you once read that he delights in severity, or in dealing roughly with his people? God very rarely takes up the rod but when our sins have put a force upon him, 2 Chron 36:16; Jer 5:19. It is grievous to God to be a-grieving his people; it is a pain unto him to be a-punishing of them: Hos 11:8, "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together." My justice, saith God, calls upon me to rain hell out of heaven upon thee, as once I did upon Sodom and Gomorrah; but then mercy interposeth her four several hows: how? how? how? how? how shall I give thee up? God puts these four pathetical interrogations to himself, because none else in heaven or earth could answer them. The prophet brings in God speaking after the manner of men, who, being provoked a thousand thousand ways by the vanities and follies of their children, think to give them up to take their own courses, and to look no more after them; but then their bowels begin to work, and their hearts begin to melt, and they begin to interrogate themselves thus: "How shall we give up these children? for though they be disobedient children, yet they are children; how can we turn them out of doors? how can we disown them? how can we disinherit them? for though they are rebellious children, yet they are children, etc. Afflictions are called God's work, yea, his "strange work;" his act, yea, "his strange act;" as if God were out of his element when he is afflicting or chastising his people, Isa 28:21.

Thomas Watson, Works, Vol. X, p. 260, Christ the Prince of Peace:

6. The afflicting of his people, is as it were against the grain with him; Lam 3:33, "He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." There is a necessity for it, for which he is obliged to do it; 1 Pet 1:6, "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season (if need be) ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations." The apostle distinguisheth between men's correcting and his, in Heb 12:10, "They verily for a few days chastened us, after their own pleasure: but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness." And in it he carries along the pity of a father, Ps 103:13-14, and so is afflicted in their affliction, Isa 63:9.

Archibald Alexander, Religious Experiences, p. 333, Letter to a Bereaved Widower:

I have little doubt, but that already, although your affliction is so recent, you have had much cause to adore the kind workings of a benignant Providence in your behalf. Your cup is not one of unmixed misery. In the midst of judgment there is mercy. God hitherto has provided for your necessities, and will still provide. Let your trust in Him be constant and unwavering. Although the stroke which has laid you low, and clothed you, as it were, with sackcloth and ashes, must be attended, upon every reflection, with piercing anguish, yet let one idea be ever prominent in your mind, while thinking on this mournful subject: "It is my Father's hand which has inflicted this wound, and caused this pain; and He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." [Lam 3:33]
 

ServantofGod

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks Andrew. That first one from Matthew Poole really makes sense. It's really just directed to God's people.
 
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