“And you, take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel.”
This is the first verse of an entire chapter that is dedicated to a lamentation, that’s how the chapter ends. After 14 verses of lament, we see these words, this is a lamentation, and has become a lamentation. So what is a lamentation? Well, basically a lamentation is a deep, passionate expression of grief or sorrow, and it’s obviously a familiar term in the Bible. We see it in a book of the Bible, lamentations, that Jeremiah writes to lament, to express grief and sorrow over sin and its effects, specifically in the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians. And this is what’s happening here in Ezekiel 19, God is saying, “Take up a lamentation for the princes, for the leaders of Israel,” and by implication, for the people of Israel, God’s people who have sinned against him and are experiencing the effects of their sin.
The reason I want to read this simple verse, Ezekiel 19:1, “And you, take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel,” and to pray accordingly, is because I think we are pretty unfamiliar with lament, and what the Bible means when it talks about lament, when it comes to our prayer lives, when it comes to our lives as a whole. I mean, if we’re not careful, we can go through day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, maybe even decade after decade in our lives individually, in our families, in our churches, and not lament, and not ever expressed deep, passionate grief and sorrow over sin, over sin’s effects around us. When was the last time, think pre-COVID even, when we were in a church gathering, and people everywhere were on their faces, weeping over sin in our midst?
These are images that are not uncommon in scripture, yet they are uncommon in contemporary Christianity, and we need to at least ask the question, why is that? And I wonder if at least part of the answer is that we have lost sight of the holiness of God, and of the seriousness of sin in our lives, and our churches in the world around us, in a way that would cause us to express deep, passionate grief and sorrow. Just ask that question in your life, like, are there times when you, before the Lord, and maybe with others in the church, express deep, passionate grief and sorrow over sin? If not, why is this picture in the Bible so uncommon in your life, in your church, in my life, in the church, I’m a part of?
Oh God, we pray that you would teach us to lament, that you would do whatever is needed in our minds and our hearts that’s missing right now, that is keeping us from experiencing deep, passionate grief and sorrow over sin in us and around us. And I’m just compelled to pray that you would forgive us for our lack of lament, and that you would bring us, by the power of your spirit, God soften our hearts, humble our hearts, open our eyes to see your holiness, to see your greatness, to see who you are more clearly, in a way that we see our sin more seriously, and our weakness more clearly, God, our inadequacy, our even rebellion, and our tendencies to turn from you more seriously, and in this to fall on our faces, oh God, in deep, passionate grief and sorrow over sin.
God, I pray for this in my own life. I pray for this in each person who’s listening right now. I pray for this in our churches. God, help us to lament, help us to appropriately lament, even as we praise you Jesus, for paying the price for our sin. God, all the more so, help us not to treat sin lightly, in light of what Jesus has done on the cross for us. God, please teach us as your people today, to appropriately lament, to express passionate, deep grief and sorrow over sin, in us, around us, that we might hate sent all the more, love and worship you all the more, and that we might be holy as you are holy. Teach us to lament, we pray, in Jesus’ name.