The messages are set as poems using an acrostic style in which each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Chapters 1, 2, 4, and 5 all have 22 verses- one verse for each letter of the alphabet, and chapter 3 has 66 verses with each letter getting three verses.
All the chapters describe the destruction of the city called her the "Virgin Daughter Jerusalem." Sometimes the descriptions are personalized and the lament is cast in the first person. Chapter 3 opens with this cry of pain:
I am the man who has seen affliction
by the rod of the Lord’s wrath.(NIV)
Chapter 2:1 describes God as the avenger:
How the Lord has covered Daughter Zion
with the cloud of his anger!
He has hurled down the splendor of Israel
from heaven to earth;
he has not remembered his footstool
in the day of his anger.(NIV)
The destruction of Jerusalem came from invaders but the punishment is accorded as just punishment for sins committed by Israel with Jerusalem as the errant daughter whose sins have been revealed. The metaphors are graphic and painful.
"Should women eat their offspring
the children they have cared for?"
Jeremiah does not name the attacker as the enemy nations, but only that God has brought this vengeance.
"“Young and old lie together
in the dust of the streets;
my young men and young women
have fallen by the sword.
You have slain them in the day of your anger;
you have slaughtered them without pity.(NIV)
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.