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Divine Sovereignty in Lamentations


In the book of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah weeps over the Babylonian attack on Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple, and the ensuing captivity of Gods people in Babylon. Through it all, he recognizes the just hand of God in and over all events, however evil.

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All that God purposes and proclaims comes to pass. Whether it be good or bad from the human perspective, Gods eternal decree is executed, though man remains responsible for his choices:

Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? Lamentations 3:3739

These verses are strategically placed in the very center of the third of the five chapters of Lamentations. Here is the turning point for the entire book, the hinge upon which it all pivots. Jeremiah had already acknowledged that the Babylonian attack was caused by God (3:116). Without issuing a formal apology for Gods doings, he had recognized that Judahs distress came from the Lord. In verses 3739, he asked three rhetorical questions that form the heart of the book. The answers are so obvious that they are not even recorded. Unquestionably, it is God alone who speaks and causes events to come to pass. Both good and ill occur at His command. And no one should complain when God punishes him for his sins.

R. K. Harrison explains this truth of Gods overruling providence when he writes, God was the supreme arbiter of human affairs. . . . Lamentations relates the whole range of moral values (good and evil) to the activity of the one true God of Israel, who is the ultimate ground of existence. Calvin further explains, God is not the author of evil, although nothing happens without His permission, for His purposes are quite different from ours. This is to say, nothing can happen apart from the sovereign plan and permission of God. Jeremiah strongly affirms that nothing can happen, good or evil, that God has not decreed, lit. commanded.

Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 201.



Posted 2012·09·17 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Foundations of Grace · Lamentations · Steve Lawson
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