Daily Devotions

Affliction and aging, in flesh and skin and bones!

Lamentations 3:1-4

‘I am the man that has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath! He has led me and brought me…not into light! Surely, He has turned against me! He turns his hand against me, all the day! My flesh and my skin, He has made old! He has broken my bones!… He has set me in dark places, like they that are dead!’ Lamentations 3:1-6.

Calvin comments: “This chapter…is full of rich instruction…. The Prophet…says that he was…a man who saw affliction. This mode of speaking, we know, is common in Scripture — to see…good and evil — to see life and death….

“He shows the cause or the manner of his affliction — for he had been led into darkness, and not into light…. There was not even a spark of light in that darkness, it being so thick and obscure.

“‘Surely, against me He has turned!’… Now he says that God is an adversary to him!… ‘He turns,’ he says, ‘against me His hand daily’ — or all the day!… ‘My flesh and my skin, He has made old! He has broken my bones!’… Illness often makes people to look old. For from pain, proceeds leanness. Thus the skin is contracted, and the wrinkles of old age appear…. Hence he is said to grow old, who pines away in mourning. This is what the Prophet now means. ‘God,’ he says, ‘has made my flesh and my skin to grow old’ — that is, He has worn me out, within and without, so that I am almost wasted away!

“He then adds, ‘He has broken my bones’…. David says at one time, that his bones wasted away; at another, that they were broken; and at another, that they were reduced to ashes…. The Prophet…did not only regard outward calamities as the evidence of God’s vengeance…. This then was the reason why the Prophet said that God had broken his bones….

“‘He has set me in dark places, like they that are dead’…. In darkness. Not so that he might be there for a little while, but remain there for a long time…. The comparison which follows…, clearly explains the Prophet’s meaning — ‘as the dead of ages’…. The Scripture elsewhere calls those ‘the dead of ages’ who have long been buried and have decayed, and whose memory has become nearly extinct…. When it is reduced to ashes; when no bone appears; when the whole skin and nerves and blood have perished and no likeness to man remains — there can then be no hope of life. The Scripture then calls those ‘the dead of ages’ who have wholly decayed…. The Prophet…dwelt there, as though he had been long dead and his body had now become putrid….

“Grant, Almighty God, that…we may…patiently submit to all Your scourges, and in a humble and meek spirit permit ourselves to be chastised, as we deserve!… May we not meanwhile cease to call on You!… However slowly You may seem to hear our prayers, may we yet persevere continually to the end — until at length we shall really find that salvation is not promised in vain to all those who in sincerity of heart call on You. Through Christ our Lord. Amen!”

We have affliction and aging, in flesh and skin and bones! Let us then call on the Lord!