“Unit 28: Day 3, Lamentations,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 28: Day 3,” Old Testament Study Guide
Jeremiah lamented the destruction of Jerusalem and the affliction of its people. But even in his grief, he testified of the Lord’s compassion. Jeremiah compared the lives of the people when they were righteous to their lives when they were wicked. He pled with the Lord to forgive the people of Judah and turn them back to Him.
Imagine that some of your peers are trying to convince you to break a commandment. What might they say to convince you? What would you tell them to convince them that they should not commit sin?
As you study Lamentations 1, look for truths that will help you understand the consequences of breaking God’s commandments. Remember from previous lessons that because the people of Judah chose to disobey the teachings of Jeremiah and other prophets and instead chose wickedness, the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. Sometime after Jerusalem was destroyed, Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations. The term lamentation refers to words that express deep sorrow or grief.
Read Lamentations 1:1–5, looking for why Jeremiah lamented. The words she and her in these verses refer to Jerusalem. The phrases “how is she become as a widow” in verse 1 and “she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her” in verse 2 imply that Jerusalem was abandoned and alone.
Review Lamentations 1:1–5, looking for words or phrases that help identify some of the consequences of sin. Consider marking these words or phrases.
In Lamentations 1:6–11 we read that Jeremiah continued to lament the destruction of Jerusalem.
Lamentations 1:12–22 includes lamentations written from Jerusalem’s perspective, as though the city itself were speaking. Read Lamentations 1:16, 18, 20, 22, looking for additional consequences of sin. Consider marking these words or phrases.
The phrase “my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity” in verse 18 refers to the loss of the rising generation. The phrase “my bowels are troubled” in verse 20 refers to the mental and spiritual anguish we experience when we sin.
- Based on what you read in Lamentations 1, write at least three principles in your scripture study journal that describe what happens to us when we sin.
One of the principles we can learn from this chapter is that when we sin, we will feel troubled.
In the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson, underline why we feel troubled when we commit sin: “You cannot do wrong and feel right. It is impossible! Years of happiness can be lost in the foolish gratification of a momentary desire for pleasure. Satan would have you believe that happiness comes only as you surrender to his enticements, but one only needs to look at the shattered lives of those who violate God’s laws to know why Satan is called the Father of Lies” (“A Message to the Rising Generation,” Ensign, Nov. 1977, 30).
Think about how this truth might help someone who is tempted to commit a sin.
Ponder a time when you felt troubled after doing something you knew was wrong. Strive to avoid giving in to temptations so you do not have to experience the consequences of sin.
As you study Lamentations 2–3, look for principles that can help us when we feel troubled or distressed after we have sinned.
In Lamentations 2 we read Jeremiah’s record of the misery and sorrow that the people of Jerusalem felt after their city was destroyed.
Lamentations 3 records Jeremiah’s lamentation for the destruction of Jerusalem from the perspective of the people of Judah. In Lamentations 3:1–18 we learn how the wicked people of Judah described their relationship with God.
Read Lamentations 3:1, 3, 7–9, 11, 18, looking for how the people’s sins had affected their relationship with God.
In their sinful state the people felt that the Lord had abandoned them. In reality, the people had moved away from God. Because the people had damaged their relationship with God, they felt deep despair.
What reasons did Jeremiah give to explain why the people could still have hope even after they had experienced great despair?
One of the truths we can learn from these verses is that because the Lord is compassionate, we can find hope in knowing He will help us if we seek Him. You may want to write this principle in the margin of your scriptures.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What do the words compassionate and hope mean? (You may want to use a dictionary to help you with the definitions.)
How might understanding the preceding principle help someone who feels despair or is troubled because of his or her sins?
In Lamentations 3:31–39 Jeremiah explained that the Lord does not take pleasure in punishing people. Read Lamentations 3:40–41, looking for what the afflictions we experience as a result of sin might lead us to do.
One of the truths we learn from these verses is that the afflictions we experience as a result of sin can help inspire us to turn again to the Lord.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: In what ways do you think the afflictions we experience as a result of sin can inspire us to turn to the Lord?
In Lamentations 3:42–66 we learn that Jeremiah continued to lament the state of Judah, but he again recognized that the Lord will draw near to those who call upon Him.
Imagine you are being interviewed by a reporter who considers you to be a faithful Latter-day Saint. The reporter asks, “Why should I choose to live a life requiring discipline and restraint instead of seeking after pleasure?” How would you answer the reporter’s question?
As you study Lamentations 4, notice how Jeremiah compared the lives of the righteous people who had lived in Judah in the past to the lives of the wicked people who lived in Judah during his time.
Read Lamentations 4:1–2, looking for how Jeremiah described the people when they were righteous as opposed to when they were wicked.
In Lamentations 4:3–10, Jeremiah continued to compare the state of the people when they were righteous with their state when they were wicked. For example, he said that when they were righteous they had enough to eat, lived comfortably, and enjoyed good health. He said that when they were wicked they faced starvation, did not have homes to live in, and were sickly.
What had caused these changes in the lives of the people?
One of the truths we can learn from these verses is that when we live righteously, our lives will be better than they would be if we chose to sin.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How do you think our lives will be better when we live righteously?
What are some examples from the scriptures of people whose lives were better because they chose to live righteously?
Being righteous does not mean that we will not experience trials and sorrow in our lives. However, when we are righteous the Lord gives us strength, peace, and blessings to help us both temporally and spiritually (see Mosiah 2:41).
In the rest of Lamentations 4, Jeremiah continued to describe the pitiful condition of those who chose to be wicked.
Lamentations 5 contains one of Jeremiah’s prayers to the Lord. In Lamentations 5:1–18 we learn that Jeremiah acknowledged the sins of the people and the consequences they had suffered because of their sins.
Read Lamentations 5:19–21, looking for what else Jeremiah prayed for.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What stands out to you about Jeremiah’s prayer?
The phrase “renew our days as of old” in verse 21 is Jeremiah’s plea that the Lord would forgive the people and make them clean, as they had been in former times. When they were righteous in the past, the people enjoyed prosperity, the blessings of the temple, and greater influence in the region.
Ponder what you can do to turn yourself more fully to God so you can be renewed.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Lamentations and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: