In this central and longest poem, Jeremiah identified himself completely with the experiences of his people. In the first movement, in language which throbs with pain, he described his own sorrows, recognizing through all the action of Jehovah, as the almost monotonous repetition of the pronoun "He" reveals. Here he most evidently recognized the relation of sorrow to sin. All the intermediate instruments of punishment are out of sight. Every stroke falls from the hand of God, as the opening declaration suggests, "I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of His wrath." This is indeed the recognition of the method of Jehovah in judgment. Such recognition compelled the ending of the dirge by an affirmation of hope. The remembered afflictions of God create assurance of deliverance.
The next movement is one wholly of assurance, in which the prophet, having in the previous section recognized Jehovah's activity in judgment, now recognized His activity in mercy. The passage is full of beauty, as it deals with that tender compassion of God which had never been absent even in the work of punishment. This recognition of mercy ends with an expression of submission to judgment, and a consequent song of hope strong in its confidence.
The third movement of identification is one of appeal. Again the prophet first recognized the justice of the divine visitation, and then earnestly appealed to the people to turn to God in true penitence, ending with a declaration of his sense of the national sorrow and of his personal and immediate share in it.
The last movement of the song is again one wholly of assurance. The prophet celebrated the deliverances already wrought for him by Jehovah. From the lowest dungeons he had lifted his cry, and had been heard. Against all the devices of his enemies Jehovah had pleaded his cause. The reproaches that they had heaped on him Jehovah had heard. These past deliverances created his assurance that Jehovah would yet act on behalf of His people and destroy their enemies from under the heavens.