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Lamentations

By John L. Mackay
February 2009 | Review by Neville F. Rees

Synopsis

The five chapters of Lamentations may be easily overlooked. Not only is it brief, but it is also sandwiched between the two giants of Old Testament prophecy, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Lamentations also deals with realities which we rather wish were not discussed; consequently the book is little studied. However, although there much here to challenge faith, there is much that builds it up. Lamentations was not written in the first instance to serve as warning to others, or to even keep alive the present memory of past suffering: it is the present that dominates the thought of the book. And in that present are overriding thoughts: 'has God left us?'; 'Have we blown our chance as God's covenant people?'; 'Is there a way forward towards the restoration?'

  • Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
  • ISBN: 978-1845503635
  • Pages: 240
  • Price: £15.99
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Book Review

This is a well-produced commentary on the book of Lamentations, which the author describes as ‘Living in the ruins’. Is it aimed at the ordinary Christian or is it more for the Bible student? The answer is probably both.

It serves the ordinary Christian because it is well written and composed, with good subject headings. For example, the first chapter of Lamentations is divided into two sections: Grief observed (vv. 1–11) and Grief felt (vv. 12–22).

Each verse is carefully commented on and there is a ‘Reflection’ after each section that highlights six or so points from the passage to think over. For example, after the commentary on 2:1–10 (‘Under the cloud of God’s wrath’) the reader is encouraged to reflect on divine wrath, stating that ‘God’s wrath is not the essence of God in the way in which his love or holiness is. God’s wrath is the response of his holiness to the sin of a rebellious creation’.

But the commentary may be more directed at the theological student, being full of theological emphases couched in the Hebrew language — the author is a recognised Hebrew scholar. However, for the layman, he does explain everything carefully and the subject and Scripture indexes are valuable.

Overall, this is another worthwhile and instructive commentary to the series (previously published were Exodus and Jeremiah).

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