1 How the gold has become dim! How the most fine gold has changed! The stones of the sanctuary are poured out at the head of every street.
2 The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how they are esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!
3 Even the jackals draw out the breast to nurse their young ones. The daughter of my people has become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.
4 The tongue of the nursing child cleaves to the roof of his mouth for thirst. The young children ask for bread, and no man breaks it for them.
5 Those who fed delicately are desolate in the streets. Those who were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills.
6 For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, which was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her.
7 Her Nazarites were purer than snow. They were whiter than milk. They were more ruddy in body than rubies. Their polishing was of sapphire.
8 Their visage is blacker than a coal. They are not known in the streets. Their skin cleaves to their bones. It is withered. It has become like a stick.
9 Those who are slain with the sword are better than those who are slain with hunger, for these pine away, stricken through for lack of the fruits of the field.
10 The hands of the pitiful women have boiled their own children. They were their food in the destruction of the daughter of my people.
11 The LORD has accomplished his fury. He has poured out his fierce anger and has kindled a fire in Zion, and it has devoured her foundations.
12 The kings of the earth and all the inhabitants of the world would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy would have entered into the gates of Jerusalem.
13 It is for the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her.
14 They have wandered as blind men in the streets. They have polluted themselves with blood so that men could not touch their garments.
15 They cried to them, "Depart. It is unclean. Depart, depart. Do not touch." When they fled away and wandered, they said among the heathen, "They shall no longer sojourn there."
16 The anger of the LORD has divided them. He will no longer regard them. They did not respect the persons of the priests. They did not favor the elders.
17 As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help. In our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save us.
18 They hunt our steps so that we cannot go in our streets. Our end is near. Our days are fulfilled, for our end has come.
19 Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of heaven. They pursued us upon the mountains. They laid wait for us in the wilderness.
20 The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, "Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen."
21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, who dwells in the land of Uz. The cup shall also pass through to you. You shall be drunken and shall make yourself naked.
22 The punishment of your iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion. He will no longer carry you away into captivity. He will visit your iniquity, O daughter of Edom. He will disclose your sins.
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
The prophet begins this chapter with a complaint of the ill usage of the dear children of God and precious sons of Zion (Lamentations 4:1-2); relates the dreadful effects of the famine during the siege of Jerusalem (Lamentations 4:3-10); the taking and destruction of that city he imputes to the wrath of God, and represents it as incredible to the kings and inhabitants of the earth (Lamentations 4:11-12); the causes of which were the sins of the prophets, priests, and people (Lamentations 4:13-16); expresses the vain hopes they once had, but now were given up entirely, their king being taken (Lamentations 4:17-20); and the chapter is concluded with a prophecy of the destruction of the Edomites and of the return of the Jews from captivity (Lamentations 4:21-22).