God’s Sovereign Authority Over Good and Evil

Lamentations 3:37–39 37 Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? 39 Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? 

The content of the book of Lamentations is why Jeremiah is called “the weeping prophet.” The Lamentations of Jeremiah in chapter 3 reveal the overwhelmed and grieved heart of a prophet of God whose commission is to warn the people of God of their impending judgment. The prophet’s warnings have gone unheeded. The people of God have mocked and abused him. Jeremiah grows weary. He recognizes that the affliction he endures ultimately connects to the hand of God. God sent him to rebuke and call the people to repentance. For his efforts, the people respond with hate and hostility. Now God is using the armies of Babylon as a means of judgment for the entire nation, which only adds to the oppression the prophet feels. 

In the throes of it all, uncannily, God stirs within the prophet, and Jeremiah is filled with faith and hope. He calls out, “22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. 26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:22–26) God cannot leave the evil of the nation unpunished. So those who hope in the Lord must entrust their predicament to God as they persevere with hope.

With the context established, we look at verses 37-39 of Lamentations chapter 3. The judgment Jeremiah warned the people about arrives as predicted. The word of the Lord does not only announce blessings of goodness. The Lord warns that disobedience will bring judgment through bad and painful consequences. God sovereignly stands behind it all! Since we are all sinners deserving the judgment of God, we should stifle our complaints, replace them with repentance, and humbly seek the Lord’s forgiveness and restoration.

People of God, we are witnessing the judgment of God coming upon our godless and defiant state, nation, and world. As this unfolds, we should not think that the refining fires of God will not consume the dross of our lives as well. But as God does His purging work, we have hope because our God is filled with steadfast love and enduring mercy. We must be faithful to proclaim the double-edged sword of truth to all the defiant sinners around us. We must also let them know the Lord’s ears are open to repentant cries for help.

Praise the Lord for His authority to stand behind both good and bad as He accomplishes His sovereign work on His earth!