6. There are two parts: I. The Lamentations of Jeremiah and the people on account of the destruction of the city and the captivity of the people (Lamentations 1-4). II. A Prayer of the Church (Lamentations 5). A Synoptic Table of the book, and its Interpreters, ancient, Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Hebrew.
But, because in Lamentations not art, but feeling, holds the first place, even this order of sayings is hardly able to be required. For sorrow and anguish confound all things: and they are rolled up or down, as the soul is beside itself and in an uproar, and hold nothing certain and temperate, as our Venerable Bullinger says. Yet, because the book contains, first, lamentations (Lamentations 1-4), and second, a humble supplication (Lamentations 5), it will be allowed to make use of a twofold division.
I. The Lamentations of Jeremiah and the people on account of the destruction of the city and the captivity of the people, Chapters 1-4. See:
1. A lamentation accommodated to the first captivity of the Jews, wherein Jeconiah was taken away with his chief men, in which lamentation partly the Prophet, both in exclamation most bitterly deplores the horrible calamities of the people and the grief of Zion (verses 1-7), and in response enumerates the causes of the calamity (verses 8, 9); partly Zion herself, with the Prophet interjecting occasionally, mourns her calamities, confesses sin, and justifies God as just (verses 10-19), testifies to her contrition and confidence, and prays that God would at some point take vengeance on her enemies (verses 20-22): chapter 1.
2. A lamentation on account of the destruction of Jerusalem, the burning of the Temple, and the taking away of the Kingdom of the Davidic house, in which again the Prophet, both in exclamation magnifies the evils (verses 1-13), and in response cast the causes of evils back upon the Priests (verses 14-17), and urges weeping upon Zion (verses 18, 19); partly Zion humbly implores the mercy of God (verses 20-22): chapter 2.
3. A lamentation of Jeremiah, in which he, most grievously complaining of his and the Church’s miseries (verses 1-17), sighs unto God (verses 18-20), and, consoling himself and those like unto him (verses 21-39), exhorts each to examine his ways, and to call upon the name of the Lord (verses 40, 41); then, prescribing the form of this invocation (verses 42-47), he reviews the injuries that have been endured from his compatriots and the help of God against them (verses 48-66): chapter 3.
4. A lamentation of the same argument, in which the Prophet, deploring the evils of the Church and people, demonstrates their cause in the judgment of God against the Jews, being provoked on account of their impiety, contumacy, and vanity (verses 1-20); and, mocking the joy of the Edomites, threatens them with the cup of divine wrath, but foretells liberation for the people (verses 20, 21): chapter 4.
II. A Prayer of the Church, in which, with the cause of the calamities set forth (verses 1-18), she humbly prays to God for the conversion of her own and a restoration to wholeness (verses 19-22), Chapter 5.