Spiritual Rants: “Elegy For A Dead People” October 29 Daily Bible Readings in a year: Lamentations 1:1-2:22 Philemon 1:1-25 Psalm 101:1-8 Proverbs 26:20

Old Testament: Lamentations 1:1-2:22

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Lamentations was written by Jeremiah, a prophet who tried to show Israel her need.

The nation was punished because to God they wouldn’t heed.

Because of disobedience God wouldn’t let them stay.

The Gentiles mocked them all as they were taken away.


Lamentations 1:1-2:22   Elegy For A Dead People

The Hebrew name of this book is simply, “How?”  Our title comes from the Latin translation title lamentia which means “funeral dirges.”  The book consists of five chapters which are each a lament over the destruction of Jerusalem in 587-586 B.C.  They are written by the prophet Jeremiah.

McGee says this about Lamentations, “It is a paean of pain, a poem of pity, a proverb of pathos. It is a hymn of heartbreak, a psalm of sadness, a symphony of sorrow, and a story of sifting. Lamentations is the wailing wall of the Bible.”  If you are feeling bad the next few days, these passages should cheer you up.  There has been someone that has felt as bad as you are feeling.  I have called Jeremiah a whiner.  He had cause to be upset.

Judah did not listen to her prophets (2 Chron. 36:11-21).  Lamentations was written about the sacking of Jerusalem by Babylon.  God gives us four accounts of this horrible event, 2 Kings 25; 2 Chron. 36:11–21; and Jeremiah 39 and 52.  We can scope into these accounts and place Lamentations in their midst.  The Babylonian army invaded in 605 B.C. to recompense King Jehoiakim’s revolt against Nebuchadnezzar.  Daniel was taken into exile at that time.  Again in 597 B.C. the Babylonian army took what they wanted from Jerusalem and brought back more captives.  A siege was begun in January 588 B.C., the city was broken into in 586 and later burned to the ground.  Jews remember the event every year by reading the book of Lamentations in their temples.

Chap. 1  McGee says that each chapter in Jeremiah is an elegy for Judah.  The key verse for the book is verse 18, “The Lord is righteous; For I have rebelled against His command; Hear now, all peoples, And behold my pain; My virgins and my young men have gone into captivity.”  The first three chapters end in a prayer.  Here it is in vv. 20- 22.  The entire last chapter of Lamentations is a prayer.

Chap. 2  Are you concerned about the state of the church today?  Are you concerned that salvation and sanctification are not preached?  Are you concerned that worship services have become a cheap knockoff of a high school play?  We are in serious straights.  I must confess that I am more angry than compassionate.  But Jeremiah was twisted in knots over the state of his people, “My eyes fail because of tears, My spirit is greatly troubled; My heart is poured out on the earth Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people” (v. 11).

The secular world mocks the church today.  Perhaps they have the right to do so.  I read recently that our young people leave the church when they go to college because they see it as a bad version of what they can get in the world.  The Gentiles mocked the Jews as they went into captivity, “All who pass along the way clap their hands in derision at you; They hiss and shake their heads At the daughter of Jerusalem, ‘Is this the city of which they said,‘ The perfection of beauty, A joy to all the earth ’” ( v. 15).  Again, a prayer closes the chapter (vv. 20-22).


Lamentations is a book written by Jeremiah which are essentially funeral dirges over the demise of Israel.  Israel didn’t listen to Jeremiah or the other prophets and was taken into captivity to Babylon.

Chapter one states that the reason Israel was allowed to be taken was because they disobeyed the Lord.

Chapter two recounts the Gentiles mocking the Israelites as they are taken away.


New Testament:  Philemon

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The book of Philemon is actually a letter about a man who had slaved.

The Apostle Paul is instructing us as to what happens when we are saved.

Since Philemon would have his runaway returned, it was Paul he could thank.

The services he had lost he could put against Paul’s bank.


Philemon   Needing Your Imput

Philemon is one chapter long.  It is named after the recipient of a personal letter from Paul concerning Philemon’s slave named Onesimus.  Philemon was a rich man who had made some money and was able to own slaves.  He lived in Colossae, the church where the letter to the Colossians was sent.  Colossians, along with Ephesians, Philippians and this letter were all written by Paul while he was in prison in Rome (v. 1, 8b).

Philemon had been led to Christ by Paul.  So was Onesimus (cf. v. 10) who had run away from Philemon and stumbled across Paul who may have been preaching while chained to a Roman soldier.   Onesimus could see that Paul did not seem to be restrained though shackled.  Onesimus, though ostensibly free, had nowhere to stay and nothing to eat.  Only in Christ are we truly free (cf. John 8:36).

Churches met in homes for possibly the first two centuries after Christ.  Philemon and his wife, Apphia, have fellowship in their home (v. 2).  Of course, Paul begins by extolling God’s unmerited favor, grace, and a relationship of peace with God (v. 3).

Paul had a very active prayer life.  He was always praying for others (v. 4, cf. 1 Thess. 5:17).  Paul tells Onesimus how much he means to him and the others in his fellowship (vv. 5-7).

Paul then makes his appeal to Philemon.  He does not pull rank as an apostle but rather entreats Philemon according to his love (v. 8).  Paul is probably in his 60’s at this point and considers himself old, perhaps because of all of his trials and suffering he has experienced (v. 8b).  Paul asks that Onesimus be allowed to return home to Philemon.

Onesimus’ name means “useful.”  Paul says that Onesimus, “useful,” had not been very useful to Philemon (v. 11a) but now was “useful” to both of them (v. 11b).  Paul is quite the punster and should have been sent to a punitentiary.

Paul wanted Onesimus to stay with him because he would have been useful in the ministry but he is sending him back to Philemon (vv. 12-13).  Paul believes that in God’s providence, Onesimus had found Paul so that he might find Christ.  The result that Philemon would have Onesimus back not only as a servant but as a friend throughout eternity (vv. 15-16).

Paul says that he is imposing on their friendship to ask forgiveness for Onesimus (v. 17).  Paul asked that any wrong Onesimus might have committed be charged to Paul’s account (v. 18).  Paul says he will repay Philemon and to add some force, Paul mentions that Philemon’s salvation was due to him (v. 19).  Paul wants the encouragement that would come by Philemon taking Paul’s deal for Onesimus (v. 20).  Philemon will be a benefit to Paul just as Onesimus will be a benefit to God.

When we are saved, the technical word for the transaction is called “imputation.”  Imputation is a technical banking turn that means to “charge to an account.”  It means that Paul will take responsibility for Onesimus and pay whatever losses Philemon incurred by losing him for a period of time.  When we are saved, Jesus asks the Father to charge our losses to His account.  Our sin is charged to Jesus just as Onesimus’ sin was charged to Paul’s account.  It is a picture of our “justification.”  Justification is a technical theological concept whereby Christ’s righteousness is attributed to us.  God sees us as righteous as Christ since we are “in Christ” (e.g. Rom. 3:24; 6:11; 6:23).  So the story of Onesimus, who was supposed to be useful but was actually useless, is a perfect picture of what Christ has done for us.  He has made us useful to God in that we can now have a relationship with Him.  Onesiumus will be a benefit to God and Philemon will be a benefit to Paul.  Neither will be useless any more.

Paul is confident that Philemon will do the right thing and perhaps even more (v. 21).  Paul is hoping to come and stay with Philemon and asks for prayers toward that end (v. 22).

Paul sends greetings from the rest of his fellowship, Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, and others (vv. 23-24).

Paul never wants anyone to lose sight of what it is that makes all Christianity possible, God’s “unmerited favor,” grace (v. 25).


The book of Philemon was actually a personal letter written from the Apostle Paul to a believing slaveowner named Philemon.  Philemon had a slave named Onesimus who had run away.  Paul came across Onesimus and convinced him to return to his master.  He sent the letter to Philemon to persuade him to take back Onesimus.

The story is a beautiful picture of God’s forgiveness.  Paul asks Philemon to credit any loss of Onesimus’ services to his account.  This is exactly what happens when we trust Christ for salvation.  The cost of our sin is credited against Christ’s account with God.


Psalm 101:1-8  A Morality Manifesto   A Royal Psalm By David

Proverbs 26:20   When It’s Good To Be A Party Pooper

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Some churches can lose a good pastor because there are some bitter gossipers in the congregation.  If there are good Christians in the fellowship and they just stop the talking, the good pastor can stay.  They might be called wet blankets but wet blankets can put out fires.

If you go to a ball game and the crowd starts a “wave” and a group in the stands just refuses to get up when it gets to them, what happens?  The wave dies.

No fuel, no fire.  Don’t blow on it.  Even if you talk under your breath.

There are some good occasions to be a party pooper.


Choose Life: Scripture:  Philemon 18   NASB   “Charge It”

“But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account . . . ”   Philemon 18


Are you planning on sinning today?  I hope not.  John says he is writing so that Christians don’t sin but if they do, Christ is the expiation or propitiation for their sins (1 John 2:1).  Those are big words that mean that God is “satisfied” with the sacrifice of Christ for the debt of our sins.

So we shouldn’t sin (cf. Rom. 6:1-2) but if we do, the debt of our sin is already covered.  There is no need to “feel sorry” for our sins (sometimes confused with “repentance” which is literally a “change of mind”).  We can’t add anything to what Christ has done.  Feeling sorry does absolutely nothing.  There is no reason to have a “pity party.”  We should confess our sins (cf. 1 John 1:9) and then just move on.  That is what God would want us to do.

Paul was asking his friend Philemon to charge to his account any losses Onesimus may have cost him (see today’s blog  Needing Your Imput).  In the same way, Christ asks the Father to charge to His account any losses we have cost Him.

If you sin today, don’t wallow in your guilt.  Admit what you’ve done to God (the meaning of “confess”) and go on with your life.

That is what God would want you to do.


And when you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application:   Have you ever heard of doing a “random act of kindness”?  Today would be a good day for that.  I pulled up to the Starbucks drive-through window one day and found out the lady ahead of me had paid for my drink.  It made my day.  That small act made me feel like God cared about me.  Do something for someone today just for fun.  Extra credit:  Do it in such a way that they don’t even know it was you.  In a small way you’ll be replicating what God did for us.  But He didn’t give just a cup of mocha java.  He gave His all.


The purpose of Choose Life is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day.  There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog:  Needing Your Imput

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