Lamentations 3:16 — A Mouth Full of Rocks
He has broken my teeth with gravel; He has made me cower in the dust.
Because the nation of Israel worshiped Jehovah in the most perverted manners, He punished the nation for their sins. Jehovah brought the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar to ransack and destroy the Temple in 587 B.C. The pride of their nation, Jerusalem, had been destroyed, and the people were utterly humiliated. Imagine a muscle-bound guy pounding his chest and saying, ‘I am king of the world’. Imagine the same macho man if he were beaten in an arm-wrestling match by a little girl. Such humiliation would be considered light in comparison to Israel’s disgrace.
The message of Lamentations 3:16 is quite straightforward. God will humiliate any who reject Him, but He will be loving-kind to all who accept Him. If you take one truth from Lamentations 3.16, take the following: You must trust God and His faithfulness.
Verse sixteen then describes the further despair and hopelessness of Jeremiah’s situation. His mouth is full of gravel. The picture may be that of the Israelites on their journey to Babylon. Because of the harsh conditions of their journey, Israel was forced to bake their bread in shallow pits. Consequently the bread would become gritty because of tiny pebbles. When the bread was eaten, teeth could be broken on the pebbles. The painful condition of broken teeth illustrates the hardships the Israelites endured as a result of their sins. Another picture that could be portrayed by the gravel is the imagery of mistreatment. To illustrate, Christ used similar imagery in Matthew 7:9. “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?” For a father to give his son a stone to eat rather than bread is surely cruel treatment. The Israelites were surely treated cruelly by their Babylonian invaders and captors.
In verse twenty-one Jeremiah recalls something which gives him hope. “This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.” The word recall literally means to return. Jeremiah makes himself return to a certain truth which inspires hope. Jeremiah returns to the faithful lovingkindness of God. We are unfaithful to our God, a reality which can be discouraging to the point where we lose hope. The reason we lose hope is that we focus upon ourselves and our unfaithfulness. Jeremiah says that the solution to his problems and ours was simply to focus upon our God. The reason we fail in trial or in temptation lies in the very fact of our lack of trust in the faithfulness of God. We lose sight of God’s faithfulness to us. When we bring to our minds to return to the memory of God’s faithfulness to us, how our heart is warmed by God’s unchangeable love for us. Despite our sin, God still remains faithful to us! How amazing! God’s faithfulness instills hope in us.
What are your thoughts on this verse?
Was there ever a time in your life when you lost hope? Was it because you were focused on self or on Christ?
According to verses twenty-one through twenty-three, how much does God love you?
What can you do to remember regularly God’s faithfulness?