Lamentations 3:22-23

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

My literal interpretation

We are not used up (eaten up?) because of the lord’s great love and compassion. His compassions are fresh every morning; if your faithfulness is great. Or maybe your faithfulness is great because you are shown new compassion every day.

Initial thoughts

The book that contains this is called “Lamentations”, which refers to an expression of grief or sorrow. So, I was curious how this lord is exhibiting his “great love” and “compassions” for humanity. The world around us contains many examples of people in need of compassion, who are also often devoutly faithful and do not seem to have their physical lives improved by that faith. I read through the rest of the chapter to see how the god is showing compassion to his most devoted followers. Preceding this verse, I found 20 lines detailing all of the ways the writer was abused by his deity for unspecified sins. Following this verse, is the hope that the god hears the writer’s pleas while he is being attacked by his enemies. There is a list of suggestions for how the deity should punish the enemies, but it’s not nearly as severe as the trauma the writer has suffered at the hand of his god. Yet, in this whole chapter, there is no mention of anything the deity actually does to show love of compassion or to stop the attacks, many of which he inflicts on the writer. The only non-violent action the god takes is to say, “Do not fear.”

Other translations

Probably the most appropriate translation that fits with the content of the rest of the chapter is found in The Message Bible: “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.” That sounds like the wishful thinking of someone who has been tortured but is still holding on to hope that some shred of compassion has to be just around the corner. 

While the deity is called “the lord” in most translations, a few call him either Jehovah or Yahweh. In several translations, that entity’s “great love” is called “lovingkindness” or “mercies”, none of which apply to the trauma inflicted on the writer. Most translations discuss the morning renewal of these “compassions”, except for the Good News Translation which just states “fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.” That sentence does not imply the quite the same daily renewal or the promise of the deity’s faithfulness offered in the versions.

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