Ezekiel 38 and Psalm 89


Ezekiel 38 begins the familiar prophecy against Gog and Magog. I always thought this was referring to Moscow but D. A. Carson has a different take,

Along similar lines, Ezekiel 38 begins by denouncing “Gog, chief prince of Meschech and Tubal” (38:3). The suggestion that these names refer to Moscow and Tobolsk is without linguistic merit. The pair of names appears elsewhere (Gen. 10:2; 1 Chron. 1:5; Ezek. 27:13; 32:26) and refers to the known tribes of Moschoi and Tibarenoi. Gog is perhaps to be identified with Gyges, king of Lydia (called Gugu in some ancient records). More importantly, this anticipated horde of opponents to God’s people comes from the “far north” (38:6)—which is the direction from which the worst of Israel’s foes always came. The chapter ends in apocalyptic imagery (38:18-23)—which begins to make the scene feel like an idealized and final outbreak against the people of God, in which God vindicates his name and his cause. Thus all previous outbreaks anticipate, and are concluded by, this final apocalyptic struggle.

Chapters 38-39 appear to be the end of the first part of Ezekiel with 40-48 coming a number of years later. Knowing that brings a more climatic feel too chapters-39 for me. I appreciate the portions of the Scripture that obviously identify God as the final victor in the great battles of human history.


As I have identified before, I’ve been highlighting the phrase “the steadfast love of God” in the Psalms as I read. Psalm 89 opens will several instances of this phrase beginning with Ps. 89:1. It is found again in Ps. 89:2.

The steadfast love of God has been one of the most important promise of God for me over the last six months. I cherish the comfort of God’s abiding love.

1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998.

Ezekiel 36 and Psalm 86


Ezekiel 36 suggests to me a bit of a shift from judgment to hope. God tells Ezekiel to give a pronouncement to the Mountains of Israel (Ezekiel 36:1-15). It seems like an inverse of Ezekiel 35 and the pronouncement to the Mount Seir. This chapter feels full of hope for the restoration of Israel, especially since the judgment has been so severe, albeit deserving so. God also reiterates the history that led up to this point reminding Israel that it was her sins and her disobedience that caused all of the suffering.

I believe that God seeks restoration with His people, but because He is holy, His justice demands an accounting for sin. These are critical characteristics of God and we can not change Who He is, nor should we want to. The variable here is my own human heart. Am I willing to submit to God who alone can cover the darkness of my heart and allow Him to direct my path or will I stubbornly refuse and follow my flawed will into deeper darkness?


We return to David as the author of today’s psalm, Psalm 86. There are several verses that I identified by highlighting them in my Bible. Psalm 86:5, Psalm 86:13, and Psalm 86:15 all reference the “steadfast love of God” I think one reason this phrase stands out to me is because it was a promise to me all of this summer that God had not forgotten me and He had not forsaken me. His love was “steadfast” and nothing would change that. David experienced a great deal of lonliness and at times, despair, yet he always held on to the “steadfast love of God” as an anchor in his life.

When I read the news or listen to others talk about current events or the culture of today at large, I often feel a very strong check in my spirit. It is in those moments and frankly all of the time, that I appreciate the realization that God’s love is steadfast and He is unchangeable. My love for the Word of God grows stronger all of the time because I need to know more about God.

Lord, I need You, Oh, I need You
  Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
  Oh God, how I need You1

1 Christy Nockels, Daniel Carson, Jesse Reeves, Kristian Stanfill, and Matt Maher. “Lord, I Need You.” Song Select (https://us.songselect.com/songs/5925687/lord-i-need-you : accessed 3 October 2014).

Ezekiel 35 and Psalm 85


Ezekiel 35 is another chapter of condemnation of one of Israel’s neighbors. It seems out of place with the others that ended with chapter 32. Mount Seir is actually an indirect reference to Edom. Carson gives his explanation,

More importantly, of all the neighboring nations Edom was in one respect a special case. The nation of Edom was descended from Esau, and the old rivalry between Jacob and Esau was passed down into the rivalry between Israel and Edom, two nations of relatives divided by a common animus. Edom is not specifically mentioned in this chapter, of course; the reference instead is to Mount Seir (Ezekiel 35:2)—i.e., the mountain region east of the Arabah, the valley running south from the Dead Sea. There they harbored their “ancient hostility” (Ezekiel 35:5)1

It is difficult to comprehend why emnity among brothers seems so much stronger and enduring than among strangers. I think it is sad that the animosity between Jacob and Esau flowed down to the many generations of their offspring.


Psalm 85 feels like the morning after the dark night or the sunshine after the hard rain. The psalmist recounts God’s restoration after the severe judgment that Israel faced. He uses words like “restore” and “revive” to describe what is going on in the life of the nation of Israel. There are a couple of places where I again highlighted the phrase, “steadfast love”

  • Psalm 85:7
  • Psalm 85:10

This morning, I am rejoicing in the goodness and faithfulness of God. He has given restoration and shown His steadfast love. He is trustworthy and kind. He is always good. I cannot always see His hand but I know that it is always with me. Thank you, God, for loving and caring for me.

1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998).

Ezekiel 34 and Psalms 83-84


Ezekiel 34 tells the story of the self-concerned shepherd who feeds himself but not his sheep. In the Old Testament, the term shepherd often referred to the king. Carson gives this explanation,

“Shepherd” was a common metaphor for “king” in the ancient Near East, not least in the Old Testament (cf. Isa. 44:28; Jer. 10:21; 23:1-6; Mic. 5:4, 5; Zech. 11:4-17). The shepherd provided not only care and nurture for the sheep, but leadership, medical attention, and defense against foes. Doubtless it was an excellent metaphor to apply to hereditary monarchs who might be tempted to think of their calling in terms of power and privilege but not in terms of responsibility.1

God, however, turns the story around by listing a number of times the phrase, “I will…” or “I myself will…” (Ezek. 34:10-16 and Ezek. 34:17-22). He will both protect the sheep and purify the flock by judging those who are evil or corrupt. In Ezekiel 34:23-31 He promises a shepherd who will be both God and a man from the line of King David — Jesus (John 10).

God is amazing; He identifies the problem, He executes judgment, and He provides relief for the oppressed. In the midst of deficit, it can be easy to succumb to despair — much like the poor sheep of this metaphor — but God will alway step in at just the right time to restore the downtrodden.


There is quite a difference between Psalm 83 and Psalm 84. Psalm 83 is likely the last psalm of Asaph and it once again asks God to bring judgment against Israel’s wicked neighbors. I don’t think that is it easy for me to understand just how heavy the oppression against Israel by it surrounding countries was. However, I can liken it to the oppression that Satan brings against my mind and soul with his accusations and fiery darts. Spiritual warfare is very real and living right in the middle of the devil’s kingdom is a dangerous and oppressive place to be. I can relate in that sense to the cry of this psalmist to God to destroy my enemy and restore me to a safe refuge when I am feeling the oppression of the devil against me.

Psalm 84 is a beautiful oasis in this portion of Scripture. The psalmist speaks about true worship and coming to the place of the presence of God. The closest thing we experience to this today would be corporate worship. I know many Christians who claim to love God but disdain church, usually because of bad experiences. Those are the human factors but they do not negate the critical command we have in Hebrews 10:25 to come together to worship Christ and be fed from the Bible.

I read a very good commentary on Psalm 84 this morning from the book, Opening Up Psalms,

In the first place, we must note his intense longing for worship (Ps. 84:1-4). How great was this longing? The psalmist says it consumed his entire being. He says his soul ‘faints’ with this longing (Ps. 84:2). It was almost too much for him to bear.

We will never feel like worshipping God until we understand something of his greatness, and we cannot help but worship once we do. In other words, there is a direct correlation between our conception of God and our desire for worship. The greater God is in our eyes, the greater will be our desire to worship him.2

1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998).

2 Roger Ellsworth, Opening up Psalms, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006), 58-59.

Ezekiel 33 and Psalms 81-82


Today’s reading from Ezekiel 33 has some familiar verses in it. It is the story or metaphor of the watchman. It harkens back to chapter 3 of Ezekiel. I have heard many sermons using this text as a motivation for evangelism. Whether that application is strictly correct or not, it does serve as a reminder of how critically important it is for me to share the gospel message. I am a “watchman” against the rising wickedness of my culture and my message of warning is the message of the gospel. D. A. Carson introduces this changing section of Ezekiel,

Although the warnings and calls for repentance continue, one now hears a rising note of comfort. As long as the exiles found it difficult to believe that Jerusalem could fall, Ezekiel was full of warning. Once the fall has taken place, God in his mercy gives Ezekiel words that will comfort the exilic community, nurture their faith, and steel their minds and wills.

Before that turning point arrives, the first half of the chapter returns to a theme first introduced in Ezek. 3:16-21: Ezekiel the watchman.1


The Old Testament Survey Series: The Wisdom Literature and Psalms outlines Psalm 81:

Ps. 81 is another Asaph psalm. Since it tells of the early history of Israel, Ps. 81 is classified as an historical psalm. The psalm has three main divisions: (1) a call for celebration (Ps.81:1-5); (2) a stimulus for recollection (Ps. 81:6-10); and (3) an expression of lamentation (Ps. 81:11-16).2

Ps. 81 reads like a history lesson recalling the goodness of God and the failure of His people to obey. I can only conclude that Israel, like us today, can not do good and please God from their own strength. If the Holy Spirit does not move us to do right and please God, we are helpless with our sin nature to do it on our own volition.

The same commentary does a good job outlining Psalm 82 as well,

The psalm develops three thoughts: (1) the indictment of the judges (Ps. 82:1-4); (2) the pronouncement against the judges (Ps. 82:5-7); and (3) the exaltation of the supreme judge (Ps. 82:8).3

1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998).

2 James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996), Ps 81.

3 Smith.

Ezekiel 32 and Psalm 80


Ezekiel 32 is a lament by Ezekiel for both Egypt and for Pharoah Hophra. Pharoah is described as both a lion and as a sea monster. The Lord catches him in a net and he is cast upon the shore to be devoured by the birds and other creatures. Later, the chapter describes several of the neighboring nation-states that have previously fallen in like manner. Assyria, Elam, Meshech-Tubal, Edom, and finally the ‘princes of the north”, likely the Phonecian city-states or Sidonians. Each of these nations were fierce and powerful at one time, but because of their sin, they faced the inevitable judgment of God and they have been destroyed.

It serves to me as a reminder that those people or groups who seem today to have such power, whether it is political, social, etc. and who turn their back on God and pursuade other to also so so, will one day face the inevitable judgment of God. When it comes to the people, I would pray for repentance and rebirth, but when it comes to the sin, as a Christian, I rejoice in the just hand of God.

The effect of God’s judgment is “fear-producing”. The Bible Knowledge Commentary says this,

In response to Egypt’s fall the surrounding nations would be appalled (cf. Ezek. 26:16; 27:35; 28:19) and their kings would shudder with horror. God’s revealing His holy character through Egypt’s judgment would have a profound effect on other nations. If mighty Egypt could be destroyed, so could they.1


Psalm 80:3, Psalm 80:7, and Psalm 80:19 all repeat the refrain,

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Matthew Henry’s commentary shares this thought,

Lastly, The psalm concludes with the same petition that had been put up twice before, and yet it is no vain repetition (Ps. 80:19): Turn us again. The title given to God rises, Ps.80:3, O God! Ps.80:7, O God of hosts! Ps.80:19, O Lord (Jehovah) God of hosts! When we come to God for his grace, his good-will towards us and his good work in us, we should pray earnestly, continue instant in prayer, and pray more earnestly.2

In this psalm, Asaph uses the metaphor of the vine. Israel is represented by the vine that is in rough shape. A big part of this condition is that God’s protection has been removed due to judgment. How can I expect God to surround me with his protection while at the same time willfully sin and dishonor His glory?

1 Charles H. Dyer, “Ezekiel,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1290.

2 Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 861.

Ezekiel 31 and Psalm 79



In Ezekiel 31, Ezekiel bring the fifth oracle against Egypt and it king, Pharoah Hophra. Egypt is compared to Assyria who is compared to the great cedar tree. In the Old Testament Survey Series: The Major Prophets, a description of this is given,

The oracle begins with a rhetorical question: .“Whom are you like in your greatness?” Only Assyria was comparable to Egypt in pomp and power. Ezekiel compared Assyria to a giant cedar tree with beautiful and shady foliage. This tree was exalted above all the trees of the forest, i.e., every other kingdom. The numerous boughs and long branches provided shelter for bird and beast alike, i.e., .“all great nations lived under its shade” (Ezek. 31:3-6).

No other tree in the .“garden of God,” i.e., the world, could compare to it. In fact all other trees (nations) were jealous of the giant cedar. As part of God’s garden, the kingdoms of this world needed to recognize that they had been planted and nurtured by the Lord. The cedar (Assyria) spread its branches and boasted of its beauty. The cedar forgot the source of its life. By extolling the beauty and majesty of the cedar, Ezekiel condemned the proud spirit of Assyria and of Pharaoh who was like Assyria (Ezek. 31:7-9).1

When God gives us His rich blessings and shares a talent or a resource with us to use for His glory, what is our response — better asked, “What is my response?” The things we are blessed with are not for our glory nor are they any indication of our status or our esteem. Rather they are only a tool with which we are expected to bless others and glorify Christ. John Doe has a great job and a beautiful house because God has provided them not because John Doe is someone special. This is easy to remember when we are on the bottom looking up, but do we remember this when we think we are on the top looking down?


Asaph the psalmist, recognizes in Psalm 79 that Israel is deserving of the chastisement they have received. He intervenes in prayer for Israel and asks God to shorten the judgment and bring it to an end. As I continue to read about the judgment of Israel, both in the prophets and in Psalms, I am even more amazed that Jesus Christ took my judgment upon Himself. I may be chastened by my heavenly Father, but I can stand in full assurance that I will never face the ultimate judgment for my sin (Romans 8). That is an amazing and mind-blowing truth to comprehend.

D. A. Carson gives a brief introduction to Psalm 79:

Here Asaph does not question the justice of God’s burning “jealousy” (Ps. 79:5), but (as in Ps. 74; see meditation for September 23) its duration: “How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever?” (Ps. 79:5).2

1 James E. Smith, The Major Prophets, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1992), Eze 31:1-18.

2 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998).

Ezekiel 30 and Psalm 78:40-72


Ezekiel 30 is a lament for the fall of Egypt. The once great nation will need subdued under the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. Though Egypt still exists today as a country, it has never regained its prominence since the invasion by Babylon.

The Bible Reader’s Commentary provides some insight about the pharoah at that time,

Broken arms (30:20-26). The message is directed against Pharaoh Hophra, who in 588 b.c. had halfheartedly tried to draw Babylonian forces away from the siege of Jerusalem (cf. Jer. 34:1; 37:5). Egyptian monuments show a flexed arm was a symbol of Pharaoh’s strength, and one of Hophra’s formal titles was “strong-armed.” With both arms broken, Pharaoh would be totally unable to resist.1


I really enjoyed the insight that D.A. Carson gives for this morning’s reading on the second half of Psalm 72,

But you and I are today reading these lines while at the same time reading Ezekiel, and we know that David’s line provided little enduring stability. Within two generations the Davidic dynasty lost the northern ten tribes, and its history from that point to the exile turned out to be as fickle and as repulsively wicked as anything described in this psalm, which scans the period from the Exodus to the beginning of the Davidic dynasty. In other words, this psalm looks back on the debris of failure and the well-deserved wrath of God, but sees the appointment of David and the choice of Zion as spectacular marks of God’s grace and goodness, an encouraging basis for stable faithfulness in the years ahead. But when we look back from the perspective of Ezekiel or Jeremiah, we find a still longer string of failures and still more well-deserved wrath. So is Psalm 78 simply naive?

At each stage of the Bible’s plot-line, in the midst of wrath God intervenes in mercy. The human race was sliding into a miasma of sin, so God chose Abraham. In the debauchery of the twelve sons, God chose Joseph. In the abyss of Israelite slavery, God chose Moses. In desperate cycles of rebellion, God raised up the judges. Each step marked glorious hope. And now God raises up David. But living as we do three millennia later than David, we look back and breathe our profound thanks for how God disclosed himself “in these last days” (Heb. 1:1-4)—in the finality of his Son.2

The truth is that every human solution prior to the coming of Jesus was only a temporary solution at best, fraught with mistakes and sin. Jesus was the second Adam who would perfectly fulfill the law and who would reign as the true and righteous king.

1 Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion, electronic ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991), 502.

2 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998).

Ezekiel 29 and Psalm 78:1-39


In Ezekiel 29, Egypt is the next nation to receive God’s judgment for her sin. Egypt was guilty of offering refugee to Israel when she could not deliver it (Ezek. 29:6; cf. Isa. 36:6 = 2 Kings 18:21).

Egypt is told that she will never again be a great power. Some nations that received judgment ceased to continue to exist (the Assyrians, the Hittites, etc.). Egypt is still here today, but she has not since been the great power that she once was.

Finally, God will allow Nebuchadnezzar to conquer Egypt to pay for his previous war against Tyre. It is an amazing display of the sovereignty of God that He controls the affairs of men and nations. It is something worthwhile to remember today when we find ourselves fretting about politics and the current events in the news. Carson reminds us,

Not for a moment should one think that any of the nations acted out of conscious obedience to the Lord (cf. Isa. 10:5ff!). But the Lord is no one’s debtor, and these are the arrangements that Almighty God is making.

We would not know these things apart from revelation, of course. But they warn us against pontificating too loudly about what is going on in our day, when we see so little of the big picture as to what God himself is doing.1


Psalm 78 begins with a reminder of the critical importance of passing the testimony of our faith down to our children and grandchildren. Psalm 78:4,

We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.

While a lot of our faith is “caught” by our children, we must also be deliberate about verbalizing our faith too them. The old phrase,“Daddy never told us he loved us, but we knew it by his actions” is not only deficient, but it does not cut it when it comes to teaching our children and grandchildren about God and faith. We must be verbal fathers and mothers!

The rest of today’s reading from this Psalm is a recounting of the failure of Israel to obey God and trust Him when they left Egypt and wandered in the wilderness. it it’s a reminder of the consequences of their rebellion. When we reflect on God’s goodness and faithfulness to future generations, then they will have better context with which to process the working of God in their lives.

1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998).

Ezekiel 28 and Psalm 77


Ezekiel 28 is an interesting chapter. It is both judgment against Tyre and also a lament for the great fall that she experienced. God recounts the great blessings that he gave to Tyre, riches, in fact he even likens them to being present in the garden of Eden and enjoying rich blessings. Yet Tyre became proud and because of her pride she forgot about God and considered herself a god. D.A. Carson summarizes this chapter,

The iniquitous dimensions of the arrogance are highlighted by the many allusions back to Genesis 2-3 (clearer in Hebrew than in English translation). They thought of themselves as being in Eden, the garden of God (28:13), as being God’s guardian cherub (28:14), but they will be expelled (28:16). In other words, their sin is of a piece with that of Adam and Eve. They, too, wanted to be like God, independent, knowing good and evil themselves without anyone (not even their Maker!) to tell them. In both cases the result is the same: ruinous disaster, death, catastrophic judgment. There is but one God, and he rightly brooks no rivals.1

Later in Ezekiel 28:20-24, the prophecy continues but this time it is judgment against Sidon, a Phoenician city on the Mediterranean coast northwest of Israel. The chapter closes with the promise of protection for the remnant of Israel (Ezkeiel 28:25-26).

This short interlude in the midst of the oracles against the nations serves to remind Israel that they can ultimately look forward to a time of redemption and restoration brought about by Yahweh’s defeat of all their enemies.2


The commentary, Opening Up Psalms does a fantastic job of explaining Psalm 77,

Why would a good past cause Asaph to be so exercised? And the answer is that it made him sharply conscious of how his present circumstances did not measure up. He could look at the past and see marvellous instances of God at work in his life and in the lives of those around him. But the present seemed to be utterly devoid of such instances. It was of such a nature that it appeared as if God had cast him off for ever (Ps. 77:7), had decided to be favourable no more (Ps. 77:7), had caused his mercy to cease for ever (Ps. 77:8), had failed to keep what he had promised (Ps. 77:8), had forgotten to be gracious (Ps. 77:9) and had, in anger, locked up all his tender mercies and thrown away the key (Ps. 77:9).

The good news is that Asaph did not continue in his distress. In Ps. 77:10 he turns the corner and begins to come out of his misery and woe. As he reflected on the past, he began to realize that he had been looking at it in the wrong way. Instead of letting past glory depress him, he should have been letting it bless him. The fact that God had worked mightily in the past meant there was hope for the future. The God of the past had not changed! He is the same God. No matter how great the darkness of present circumstances, it is not greater than God.3

Those are very thoughtful words to remember when present circumstances seem overwhelming and God seems distant.

1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998).

2 John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012), Eze 28:25–26.

3 Roger Ellsworth, Opening up Psalms, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006), 67.