The characters involved are fleshed out in the second chapter. The author moves from the emotional suffering to the peoples’ response. First he announces what God has done: He has unleashed his anger (v. 1, 22), forgotten and cut off (1, 7), tore down (2, 6, 8-9), withdrawn himself (3), slain his people (4, 5), and in all of this he fulfilled his plan (17). The God shown here is one of wrath, but do not let that detract you from the personification also taking place. God is not merely an idea or a force, he more than the culmination of all things, more than pure energy. He is real, personal, emotional, relational. His power knows no limits and his mercy no bounds. The Israelites did not anger a phantom, they sorrowed a being’s heart.
What could the people do in response? They sit in silence (v. 10), cry out in grief (18-19), and question God (20-21). The author shares in their suffering, “My eyes fail from weeping” (11), and questions God as they have, “Whom have you ever treated like this? (20). Although he remains measured, the author chooses to include his own painful reflections (11-13, 20). There is little hope found in chapter 2 aside from a short section in verse 19, “pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Life up your hands to him for the lives of your children.” The remainder of the chapter echoes the dark situation found in ch.1.
Two observations worth noting: the reasoning found in verse 14 and the reoccurrence of the term ‘daughter.’ Verse 14 places the country’s failure on the backs of its prophets saying they were “worthless” and “did not expose your sin.” I am reminded of 2 Tim 4:3, the warning that soon people will not endure sound teaching. Allow Lamentations to be the example of what happens when such things occur. Itching ears lead to far worse fates. Next, the term daughter is used 10 times in chapter two’s twenty-two verses. It switches between Daughter of Zion, Daughter of Judah and Daughter of Jerusalem (1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, twice in 13, 15, 18). I am unsure as to the depths of its meaning, but almost certainly such imagery is used to conjure a more emotional response to the event. All these horrific things, they are not simply happening to a city, or a country, or even a people group – they are happening to a daughter, God’s daughter nevertheless. She is a daughter of promise, of history and of power. She is beautiful and holds the position of royalty, but she has fallen. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Eze 18:32) but the discipline he offers is for the maturity of his daughter. Again, even in the midst of such suffering, the author puts forth much effort in humanizing our God.