Behold, O LORD; for I am in distress: my soul is troubled; my heart is turned within me; for I have grievously rebelled: abroad the sword bereaves, at home there is as death.
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Ambrose of Milan
Repentance came by John, grace by Christ. He, as the Lord, gives the one; the other is proclaimed, as it were, by the servant. The church, then, keeps both that it may attain to grace and not cast away repentance, for grace is the gift of One who confers it; repentance is the remedy of the sinner.
Jeremiah knew that penitence was a great remedy, which he in his Lamentations took up for Jerusalem and brings forward Jerusalem itself as repenting when he says, “She wept sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks, nor is there one to comfort her of all who love her. The ways of Zion do mourn.” And he says further, “For these things I weep, my eyes have grown dim with weeping, because he who used to comfort me is gone far from me.” We notice that he thought this the bitterest addition to his woes, that he who used to comfort the mourner was gone far from him. How, then, can you take away the very comfort by refusing to repentance the hope of forgiveness?
But let those who repent lea...
BEHOLD, O LORD: the fourteenth or rather fifth topic of complaint, as all misfortunes are presented to the judge one by one, so that he, as if he saw the things themselves and not only heard the words, should be moved to pity.
Historical interpretation BEHOLD, O LORD: sometimes Jerusalem is perplexed with shame; sometimes, trusting in compassion, she is raised up, whence she says: BEHOLD, O LORD, that her affliction may turn the pious judge to compassion, shame to mercy. MY BOWELS ARE TROUBLED, like a woman in labor. I AM FULL: she points out, not that she is entirely touched, but that she is full of the BITTERNESS of sorrow and pain. MY HEART IS TURNED WITHIN ME by the weight of tribulation; THE SWORD of the persecutor; DEATH ALIKE, for the bitterness of tribulation.
Allegorical interpretation BEHOLD, O LORD: RES is interpreted ‘of the head’. For the disorder of the bowels or the destruction of the heart is a sighing of the mind that is denoted in the head. Therefore it is justl...
In describing loftily the sweetness of contemplation, you have renewed the groans of my fallen state, since I hear what I have lost inwardly while mounting outwardly, though undeserving, to the topmost height of rule. Know then that I am stricken with so great sorrow that I can scarcely speak, for the dark shades of grief block up the eyes of my soul. Whatever is beheld is sad; whatever is thought delightful appears to my heart lamentable. For I reflect to what a dejected height of external advancement I have mounted in falling from the lofty height of my rest. And, being sent for my faults into the exile of employment from the face of my Lord, I say with the prophet, in the words, as it were of destroyed Jerusalem, “He who should comfort me has departed far from me.” But when, in seeking something similar to express my condition and title, you frame periods and declamations in your letter, certainly, dearest brother, you call an ape a lion. Herein we see that you do as we often do, wh...
Jerusalem begins to be captured by the divine king himself. About this notion three further views are proposed. First is expressed the precise distress, second, Judah (Jerusalem) is accused of faults by enemies. As Verse 21 later declares: "Hear how I groan; there is none to comfort me."
Third, Judah (Jerusalem) seeks vindication. As Verse 2? later on says: "Let all their evil-doing come before thee; and deal with them as thou hast dealt with me because of all my transgressions.
About the precise distress during the captivity there is excited attention. For, this Verse 20 says: "Behold, O Lord, for I am in distress, my soul is in tumult. In reference, Psalm 5l(50):l declares: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love; according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions."
As to the accusation of faults by enemies, there is metaphorically expressed a grief that is interior, and a nearness to one's heart. So, Verse 20 says: "my heart is wrung within me beca...