How she sits alone,
the city once crowded with people!
She who was great among the nations
has become like a widow.
The princess among the provinces
has been put to forced labor.
She weeps bitterly during the night,
with tears on her cheeks.
There is no one to offer her comfort,
not one from all her lovers.
All her friends have betrayed her;
they have become her enemies.
Judah has gone into exile
following affliction and harsh slavery;
she lives among the nations
but finds no place to rest.
All her pursuers have overtaken her
in narrow places.
It has been said, “Being abandoned or given up is the most devastating emotion we can cause in another human being.” (Gary David Currie) The book of Lamentations captures the essence of that emotion. It is a collection of songs of lament over the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians most commonly attributed to Jeremiah. In these songs, Jerusalem is personified as a woman who has had everything taken away from her by those who she once sought comfort from.
God had called Israel to rely solely on Him for everything they needed. Dependence on other nations would cause entanglements with the gods of those nations. The other nations would also be fickle allies who only protected Jerusalem as long as it served their interests. Throughout their history, though, the kings of Israel and Judah would seek protection from one of their neighbors against an invading power. The alliance would last for a season but, eventually, the friend would take the role of an adversary toward Israel. Now, Jerusalem found herself completely abandoned.
God doesn’t want us to live in total isolation. There are many passages throughout Scripture that speak to the value of having good friends. At the same time, though, we should pick our closest friends carefully. Our best friends should be those that will encourage and strengthen our relationship with God. Even when we take great care in making close friendships, though, we will have times when people still betray us. Much like Israel will learn during the exile, those are the times when God will show Himself to be the most faithful friend we will ever know.
- How careful are you in selecting friends that will encourage your relationship with God?