Lamentations is different than Job in that it sees suffering as deserved and that what happened was being payed out on the basis of the lex talionis (an eye for an eye . . .). The question is, "How does one deal with deserved suffering?" The answer: REPENT so that God can work.
Click here to read the article from ISBE on the basic introduction and note:1. Which topics would be relevant for the exegesis of the book.After reading the introduction do the following:
2. Which topics help us to understand the original function of the book.1. Print out the following text of the book (Click on the Link)
2. Read it from the following perspective:
The author was a prophet who beheld the fall of his nation. He had earlier wrned the people in his larger work that the destruction was coming. His message had been filled with gloom, doom, and what could be interpreted as anger (Read Jeremiah 3-4 for an example of this). The destruction has come and he was right, but instead of saying I told you so he laments (thus showing it was not his personal feelings when he preached in the angry fashion, but a prophet doing what was necessary.
The prophet is now acting as the representative of the people in effecting a repentence which was what God wanted all the time (Jeremiah 4), but the problem is that it is a call to repent after judgment, but not before judgment. Repentence in the Old Testament is an act that is a turning from evil, an act that takes away or prevents judgment, and restores a person to God. The prophet portrays the process in this book.
3. Color code the text noting:a. What specifically has happened to the people (If the text repeats an idea don't highlight it)?
b. Does the prophet acting in behalf of the nation have the people admitting responsibility for it?
c. Is God declared to be just?
d. What does the prophet want the people to do?
e. Where does he see the situation as hopeless?
f. Where does he see hope? What does he hope for?
g. What attributes of God does he appeal to?
h. Does Jeremiah portray the people in chapter 5 as actually repenting? Does God accept it or not?