The importance of religion can hardly be underestimated in the contemporary society. Most importantly, religious postulates and commandments serve at the most effective restraints from dangerous behaviors and different misdeeds, routinely perpetrated by the members of the society. Therefore, knowing the religious postulates and commandments is the task of crucial importance; it is necessary to study them carefully and diligently because in the situations when the communal, in general, and law enforcement institutions, in particular, cannot deter the undesirable behavior of the members of the community, the prospect of divine castigation can effectively accomplish this task (Webster 68).
The Book of Lamentations and the Psalm 88 are of immense practical importance for the theoretical knowledge and practice for theological scholars and clerics. The first text is a collection of poetic lamentations expressed by the Jewish people after the destruction of the city of Jerusalem (Murphy 71). Contemporary Christian Science defined that it follows in the Old Testament after the book of Jeremy. Traditionally, this prophet is considered to be the author of this important sacred theological evidence. The book depicts the lamentations after the city was allegedly abandoned by the Lord, and the return of the Holy Spirit to the mourning population. Psalm 88 in its turn is described as a pathetic appeal of hopeless despair amidst the greatest suffering of the Jewish people under the same circumstances. The most conspicuous feature of this Psalm is that the last lines describe the eternal darkness, and leave no hope for people.
The objective of this paper is to provide an analytical comparative study of these religious books. The focal point of this paper has been placed on the analysis of the structure, theological surroundings and the place these texts occupy in the message sent to our generation by the authors of the Old Testament.
Structural Aspects and Theological Surroundings
With regard to the structure, Psalm 88 is ubiquitously considered to be the saddest and the most discouraging text of the entire book of Psalms (Waltke 13). In contrast to the rest of the sacred texts, where the light sometimes penetrates the darkness of the message, the gloom of this text is the darkest and there are no hopes left for the people. Vigorous academic debates are being waged on the clerical nature of the analyzed texts.
Some people consider that personal experiences of the single author are highlighted, while others vigorously advocate the idea that it is the cry of the entire nation. Most importantly, the author does not reveal the gender or the number of those who lament on the destructions of the Holy City (Shupak 314). Structurally, Psalm 88 consists of several verses, and each individual verse bears immense negative message, describing the sufferings and the vicissitudes of people. Each verse should not be regarded separately, because it depicts a single particular suffering, while collectively they shape the entire picture.
As far as the Book structure is concerned, it consists of five distinct verses, which integrity corresponds to the five chapters (Francomano 315). The first four chapters are written as acrostics, meaning that they contain 22 verses which represent 22 letters of the classical Hebrew alphabet. The first line of each verse is commenced with the first letter of the alphabet, and so on. The salts chapter contains 66 verses, signifying that each letter contains three lines. The last poem is not acrostic in its nature, but still contains 22 lines. Analyzing the purpose of the authors regarding the structure, the unanimous conclusion has not been reached by the contemporary theological community. With regard to the message compiled by the authors, chapter 1 describes the city of Jerusalem as the desperate, weeping lady, which has been overburdened with the different miseries and dire problems. The second chapter connects these miseries to the sins designed by God into the acts which qualify under these criteria. The third chapter tells the people that the hope is nevertheless present, and all the castigations inflicted to the humanity are done only for their good. In other words, a better day will surely come, and the Salvation is guaranteed to everyone who repents. The forth chapter describes the desolations of the city of Jerusalem in general, and the devastations inflicted to the Temple in particular. Clear connections with the humane sins and the destructions are highlighted, making it clear that the people of Jerusalem are responsible for the atrocious activities of the Roman invaders. Fifth chapter can be described as a prayer of hope and illustrates that the people are full of repentance and desire to recover the city. This chapter gives people of Jerusalem the divine hope and the promise that everyone who observes the commandments delivered by the Lord will get salvation. Penitence is, therefore, highlighted by the messengers as the most important element of this theological evidence.
With regards to the main messages of the Psalm, it is reasonable to construe that they should be interpreted indirectly. Currently, the Psalm described that the internal tortures and the abysmal sufferings are coming to the people, and there is no salvation for the humanity. In other words, it is reasonable to speculate on the fact that it is specifically designed to tell that no bright prospects are available in order to intensify the severity of the message. However, the majority of scholars converge in their opinion that these texts are specifically constructed this way, so that the targeted audience can easily comprehend the gravity of the message. The analysis of other readings, in general, and the book of Lamentations, in particular, clearly demonstrate that the salvation is possible for those, who prayed and to express repentance.
The focal point of both textual evidences revolves around axis of castigation, sufferings and sins. It is particularly accentuated that the sins are the reasons of all the misfortunes and infernal tortures of humanity, while continual prayers and dedicated repentance are the only ways to salvation. Specific accent is also placed on the fact that the Lord continually tests and evaluates humanity, concluded on their eligibility for the places in paradise. Those, who manage to withstand all the divine examinations become automatically affiliated with the Lord, but those who do not will suffer eternally. Moreover, it is explicitly illustrated that the God allowed the Roman Empire to destroy the holy of Jerusalem, therefore, demonstrating that nothing is important for him, but the corrections and the observance of the Commandments by the humankind.
The Texts and the Old Testament
As far as the significance of the analyzed textual evidences in the context of the Old Testament is concerned, it is logical to speculate on several important postulates. Generally, both analyzed texts are designed to support the main Commandments advocated by the Old Testament. To be more specific, the Old Testament contains the list of the deeds which the Lord explicitly prohibited. The Old Testament illustrates what the typical repercussions of the disobedience may be, but these specific examples are seemingly not sufficient to be persuasive enough for the congregation. In other words, everyone agrees with the fact that the Lord banned specific behavioral patterns, but it is clearly evident that the demonstrations are needed to persuade the community in the rightfulness of his admonitions.
Therefore, Psalm 88 is to be regarded as the ultimate admonition given by the Lord to the people. This admonition seeks to illustrate the set of repercussions which will be inflicted on the humanity if they continue to disobey his commands. The case with the destroyed city and the lamentations of the common people are the most persuasive tools applied to convince the targeted audience that the divine messages must be considered and respected.
With regard to the contextual meaning of the Book of Lamentations, it is clearly evident that it seeks to showcase that salvation can be deserved by continual prayer and sincere pertinence.
To summarize the main findings of this paper several conclusions can be made. First and foremost, the messages of both analyzed sacred textual evidences are almost identical. In particular, they seek to demonstrate that unless the humanity chooses the best to correction and repentance, the Lord is ready to bring all types of devastations to the humankind. The destruction of the Holy City is the most notable example in this regard (Webster 82). Secondly, the structures of the analyzed evidences are absolutely different. Finally, despite the gravity of the analyzed circumstances of the humane disobedience, there is still a salvation for the sinful people.