is the gold become dim!
how is the most fine gold changed!
the stones of the sanctuary are poured out
in the top of every street.
A lament using metaphors for gold and stones to represent God's people and how they have gone from an exalted state to one of desolation. The people have been killed or left destitute on the street corners.
2 The precious sons of Zion,
comparable to fine gold,
how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers,
the work of the hands of the potter!
It's the sons of Zion that represent the fine gold but now they are accounted as earthen pots. The work of the potters hands refers to the Lord's design in humbling his own people using the King of Assyria and the Lord's Servant.
3 Even the sea monsters draw out the breast,
they give suck to their young ones:
the daughter of my people is become cruel,
like the ostriches in the wilderness.
The people's situation is so bad they are compared to ostriches in the wilderness. The jackals giving suck to their young ones implies that they can't or don't do this because they have become cruel in a way, it's pure survival mode.
4 The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth
to the roof of his mouth for thirst:
the young children ask bread,
and no man breaketh it unto them.
They are under famine and their children are not given water or food.
5 They that did feed delicately
are desolate in the streets:
they that were brought up in scarlet
The theme of humiliation after exaltation. God's people at one time had an abundance so much so that they feasted on dainties but now they lie famished in the streets. Those who grew up in purple or fine clothing are forced to embrace refuse heaps.
6 For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people
is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom,
that was overthrown as in a moment,
and no hands stayed on her.
The guilt of God's poor people exceeded iniquity of Sodom, but unlike Sodom who had no hand strike it as it overthrown in a moment with fire and brimstone, God's people had the hand of the King of Assyria strike it as well as the right hand, the Lord's Servant becomes an enemy to them.
7 Her Nazarites were purer than snow,
they were whiter than milk,
they were more ruddy in body than rubies,
their polishing was of sapphire:
The elect used to be purer than snow and whiter than milk which implies they were in very good standing with God. They are compared to fine stones, rubies, and sapphires, showing that they were very valuable. Or their limbs ruddier than coral and their bodies like sapphire which demonstrates their personal worth and healthiness.
8 Their visage is blacker than a coal;
they are not known in the streets:
their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered,
it is become like a stick.
Now, their faces are dirty and they are not recognized in the streets. They are extremely skinny. The effects of the famine.
9 They that be slain with the sword are better
than they that be slain with hunger:
for these pine away, stricken through
for want of the fruits of the field.
The ones that died by the sword of the Assyrians are better off than the ones who pine away with hunger and lack the fruits of the field.
10 The hands of the pitiful women
have sodden their own children:
they were their meat in the destruction
of the daughter of my people.
The situation is so appallingly bad that tenderhearted women have cooked their own children and eaten them during the destruction of God's poor people. The hands refer to God's work through the King of Assyria and the Lord's Servant.
11 The LORD hath accomplished his fury;
he hath poured out his fierce anger,
and hath kindled a fire in Zion,
and it hath devoured the foundations thereof.
God vented out his fury, a metaphor for the King of Assyria, anger and fire are also metaphors for him. Showing that through him the destruction came on God's people. Even to devouring or consuming the foundations of Zion.
12 The kings of the earth,
and all the inhabitants of the world,
would not have believed that
the adversary and the enemy should have entered into
the gates of Jerusalem.
The reason the kings and people would not have believed that the enemy or King of Assyria could enter into the gates of Jerusalem is because the Lord's servant was preventing his entry with the aide of the Lord.
13 For the sins of her prophets,
and the iniquities of her priests,
that have shed the blood
of the just in the midst of her,
The religious leaders have blood on their hands, the blood of the just, and for this reason the King of Assyria was able to enter Jerusalem and destroy it.
14 They have wandered as blind men in the streets,
they have polluted themselves with blood,
so that men could not
touch their garments.
There are literal meanings here as well as symbolic or spiritual ones. After the invading armies come in the city is in such a state of chaos that the religious leaders wander like the blind in the streets and are covered in blood so no one will touch them, this is literal. On the spiritual side they could not see spiritually and defiled themselves with blood so that no one was able to gain guidance.
15 They cried unto them, Depart ye; it is unclean;
depart, depart, touch not:
when they fled away and wandered,
they said among the heathen,
They shall no more sojourn there.
People shout at them Away, unclean! Away! Away! Touch not! So the religious leaders become wanderers because the nations resolve to not let them stay in their country any longer.
16 The anger of the LORD hath divided them;
he will no more regard them:
they respected not the persons of the priests,
they favoured not the elders.
The countenance of the Lord or His anger, the King of Assyria, will not look on them anymore. They have no regard for priests and show no favor to the elders.
17 As for us, our eyes as yet failed
for our vain help:
in our watching we have watched
for a nation that could not save us.
As for the people their crying eyes have been in vain seeking help. They looked for a nation for anyone to help them or deliver them and they still wait. This could also refer to the nation Zion being unable to help them as in verse 20 they believe they can trust in the shadow of Zion and the anointed as long as he's with them.
18 They hunt our steps,
that we cannot go in our streets:
our end is near, our days are fulfilled;
for our end is come.
They are hunted down and can't go out in public. It's a lament of doom. That it is near. Or has come.
19 Our persecutors are swifter
than the eagles of the heaven:
they pursued us upon the mountains,
they laid wait for us in the wilderness.
The people are forced out into the mountains and wilderness where they are pursued and caught.
20 The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD,
was taken in their pits,
of whom we said, Under his shadow
we shall live among the heathen.
The anointed of the Lord, is the right hand, the Lord's Servant who was taken in the enemies pits. The Pit from chapter 3. The people thought as long as He was around they would be protected and could live among the nations, but now that he's gone, they are left defenseless.
21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom,
that dwellest in the land of Uz;
the cup also shall pass through unto thee:
thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked.
Edom which was the people of Esau are told to rejoice now while they can because the cup shall pass to them to, God's judgement, they will be drunk and expose themselves. The Day of Judgement affects everyone, but it begins with God's own people and then all of their enemies are also judged.
22 The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished,
O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity:
he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom;
he will discover thy sins.
Now, there will be a reversal of circumstances. Fair Zion's iniquity has been expiated and she will no longer be exiled. Now, Fair Edom will be noted and her sins uncovered.