1 Remember, O LORD, what is come upon us:
consider, and behold our reproach.
God's people aks the Lord to look at what has happened to them and to see their disgrace.
2 Our inheritance is turned to strangers,
our houses to aliens.
Their heritage is given to aliens, and their homes to strangers. They are dispossessed.
3 We are orphans and fatherless,
our mothers are as widows.
An extreme example of what has happened to them. The men have been killed.
4 We have drunken our water for money;
our wood is sold unto us.
In their destitution they must pay money for water and wood to stay warm.
5 Our necks are under persecution:
we labour, and have no rest.
They are hotly pursued. Exhausted, and cannot rest.
6 We have given the hand to the Egyptians,
and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.
They hold out a hand to the Egyptians and Assyrians who are in power over them for food. One reason they may be going to Egypt is because that's where they are, at least some of them. And Egypt is a code word for a modern day superpower that is conquered by the Assyrians in Isaiah.
7 Our fathers have sinned, and are not;
and we have borne their iniquities.
The men who died had sinned and are now gone. Their children have to bear their guilt.
8 Servants have ruled over us:
there is none that doth deliver us out of their hand.
Slaves rule over them with no one the rescue them.
9 We gat our bread with the peril of our lives
because of the sword of the wilderness.
They have to risk their lives to get food because of the sword, the King of Assyria, or his armies that pursue them in the wilderness.
10 Our skin was black like an oven
because of the terrible famine.
The famine was so bad that their skin glowed like it was in an oven.
11 They ravished the women in Zion,
and the maids in the cities of Judah.
In Zion and in the towns of Judah the some of the women were raped.
12 Princes are hanged up by their hand:
the faces of elders were not honoured.
The princes, those in leadership have been hanged, and the elderly were not shown any respect.
13 They took the young men to grind,
and the children fell under the wood.
The people are put into oppression work regimens. The young men carry millstones and the youths stagger under loads of wood.
14 The elders have ceased from the gate,
the young men from their musick.
The things the people were passionate about have gone away.
15 The joy of our heart is ceased;
our dance is turned into mourning.
The joy and dances that once pervaded Zion have now turned into mourning and stopped.
16 The crown is fallen from our head:
woe unto us, that we have sinned!
They used to wear a crown but it has fallen off of their heads. Again this shows God's people going from an exalted state and falling from grace or glory. They do recognize though that it is because of their own sins.
17 For this our heart is faint;
for these things our eyes are dim.
Because of their sins and the punishment their hearts are sick. Their eyes dim so they cannot see very well.
18 Because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate,
the foxes walk upon it.
The nation of Zion has become a desolation and jackals walk upon it.
19 Thou, O LORD, remainest for ever;
thy throne from generation to generation.
But the Lord is enthroned forever. His throne endures through the ages.
20 Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever,
and forsake us so long time?
Although the people recognize their sins they wonder why God has forgotten and forsaken them. Which he has not. So they are still living in a little delusion, which is understandable given their circumstances.
21 Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD,
and we shall be turned;
renew our days as of old.
They ask the Lord to turn back to them and let them come back to Him to renew their days like they used to be back when things were good.
22 But thou hast utterly rejected us;
thou art very wroth against us.
The JPS Tanakh text says,
For truly, You have rejected us,
Bitterly raged against us.
Take us back, O Lord, to Yourself,
And let us come back;
Renew our days as of old!
Again they plead with the Lord to take them back. Knowing that he did reject them they still hope that he will take them back.