Ezekiel 22 and Psalm 69

Ezekiel 22 is an indictment against Israel for the horrible sins she has committed. Ezekiel 22:7-12 lists a few of the many violations against God that Israel committed. Fraud, murder, rape, assault, cheating, and extortion are just a few of the crimes and if you take the time to consider each of these horrible transgressions in the list and compare them to the pervasive wickedness of today, it gives you great pause to regard how wicked the heart of man is. By nature, that same evil would control me if not for the grace of God.

Exekiel closes the chapter with perhaps the worst indictment of all. He states in Ezekiel 22:30 that he looked for a man who would “stand in the gap” but He could find no one. I have heard many sermons from this passage, but this morning this verse hits closer to home. Not only is God calling me to share the gospel message of salvation, He is calling me to address the issue of sin, first in my own heart and then in the culture around me. God is looking for someone like me to “stand in the gap” and not be ashamed of the gospel!

D. A. Carson gives context to Ezekiel 22,

We should first reflect on this passage in its own textual and historical context. Ezekiel 22 condemns the sins of Jerusalem, this “infamous city, full of turmoil” (Ezekiel 22:5). In particular, it focuses on the sins of the leaders—the kings and princes, the priests, the prophets—and shows the ways in which their sins have brought ruin to the people as a whole. In any declining culture much of the declension comes about by leaders and preachers who are self–serving or even rapacious, corrupt, and perhaps vicious, people who are far more interested in retaining power than in serving, people who devote more attention to the “spin” they will give to public answers than to the truthfulness of their answers. Pretty soon the entire fabric of the culture unravels. Corruption is soon tolerated, then expected. Cynicism becomes the order of the day. More and more people do more and more of what they think they can get away with. Integrity becomes so rare it is newsworthy.1

In Psalm 69:1, the psalmist pleads to God for deliverance. He is near the end of his rope and needs rescue immediately. When I read this verse, it resonated with me. I need God to intervene, to show Himself mighty in my life and my circumstances.

He goes on in Psalm 69:3 to share the effects that his suffering has had on himself. He also confesses in Psalm 69:5 that he is culpable for his own sinful folly and asks for God’s forgiveness. In Psalm 69:13, he reveals that he is ultimately trusting in the sovereign hands of God for deliverance. The often repeated phrase “the steadfast love of God” it’s found both in Psalm 69:13 and in Psalm 69:16.

The last verse that I highlighted this morning is Psalm 69:29,

But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high!

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), 25.

Ezekiel 12 and Psalm 51

Today’s readings are from Ezekiel 12 and Psalm 51. Ezekiel is commanded by the Lord to demonstrate the Lord’s judgment against Jerusalem by preparing an exile’s baggage and digging a hole in the wall of his home. Carson explains the event,

One can imagine the power in Ezekiel’s symbol-laden actions. In full view of the exiles, he packs his meager belongings in exactly the same way he would if he were a Jerusalemite preparing for a seven-hundred-mile march into exile. What he could bring would have to be carried on his shoulders. At night he digs through the mud-brick walls of his own house. Probably this symbolizes the futile attempt at breakout made by Zedekiah and those immediately around him (2 Kings 25:4; Jer. 39:4): they fled, but they could not escape. 1

In Ezek. 12:22, God addresses the saying among the people, “…the days grow long, and every vision comes to nothing?” Judgment is now imminent and will come to pass. This proverb will no longer be used. Carson notes,

Ezekiel and (in Jerusalem) Jeremiah keep promising the destruction of the city while years pass with its mighty walls intact. Jeremiah has been at it for decades. Doubtless God sees the long delay as powerful evidence of his forbearance and mercy, providing multiplied opportunities for repentance; the people simply grow cynical. So judgment will certainly fall, Ezekiel says—and the popular proverbs will be destroyed.2

Relating it to today, he says,

So it is not surprising that in the “last days”—the days between the first and second comings of Christ, the days in which we live—new generations of scoffers arise and make a virtue of the same wretched cynicism: “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Pet. 3:3–4). But the Flood came. And so will the fire.3

Psalm 51 is the famous song of David’s repentance of his sin with Bathsheba after he was confronted by Nathan the prophet. In Ps. 51:1-4, David pleads to God for His mercy while asking for forgiveness and both confessing and repenting of his sin. He acknowledges that his sin is first and formost against the holy God (Ps. 51:4). He confesses that he is encompassed by the grief and guilt of his sin (Ps. 51:3). David states a truth in Ps. 51:5 that is true of all of us — we are born with a sin nature (c.f. Rom. 3:23).

Psalm 51:10 is a sinner’s cry for restoration and a new start. It is continued in Psalm 51:12. He states that God is able to remove the stain of sin in Ps. 51:7. There is a plea for the mercy of God in Ps. 51:11.

The end result of restoration by God is that David will testify of the mercy and goodness of God before other sinners who may also be burdened by the guilt of their sin. They too can turn to God for forgiveness and restored fellowship with God.

Of the many, many verses that I highlighted in this psalm, the last one is Ps. 51:17. God delights when I forsake sin and return to him with my heart broken over what I am and what I have done. Even the sinner who struggles under the guilt of repeated sin (Heb. 12: ) finds forgiveness and restoration in God.

I am amazed at the inverse relationship between the two readings today. Ezekiel is full of the judgment of God against unrepentant sin by His chosen people in Jerusalem. Psalms 51 is full of repentance, mercy, forgiveness, and restoration. The question to ask myself is, “Is my heart tender and soft regarding sin in my life or is it hardening and unrepentant?”

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), 25.

2 Ibid.,

3 Ibid. ,

Lamentations 5 and Psalm 36

Today I finished reading Lamentations 5, the last chapter of the book. This is the first time that I really have understood a little of what the book of Lamentations is about. My exercise to record my daily reading of the Bible and write a few thoughts in this online journal has caused me to spend more time in reflection and thought about what I have read. I have included a small excerpt from D. A. Carson’s devotional book, For the Love of God, Volume Two, that shares such a wonderful understanding of my thoughts this morning:

“In this information-rich age, many of us have learned to be as brief as possible. …Efficient managers learn to be brief; computer programmers are rated on how briefly they can write precise code to do what needs to be done. Only a few contemporary authors (e.g., Tom Clancy and James Michener) get away with long, rambling books—and even then the editors have drastically trimmed them.

“Yet here we are, quietly reading through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, with Ezekiel to go, and we find ourselves circling around the same handful of themes again and again: sin in the covenant community, threatened judgment, then enacted judgment, first for the northern tribes, then for Judah. …But haven’t you caught yourself saying to yourself more than once, “I know this is the Word of God, and I know it is important, but I think I understand now something of the history and the theology of the exile. Couldn’t we get on to something else?” …So we scan another chapter as rapidly as possible because we already “know” all this.

“But that is part of the problem, isn’t it? Read through this chapter again, slowly, thoughtfully. …But listen to the depth and persistence of the pleas, the repentance, the personal engagement with God, the cultural awareness, the acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty and justice, the profound recognition that the people must be restored to God himself if return to the land is to be possible, let alone meaningful (5:21). Then compare this with the brands of Christian confessionalism with which you are most familiar. In days of cultural declension, moral degradation, and large-scale ecclesiastical frittering, is our praying like that of Lamentations 5? Have the themes of the major prophets so burned into our minds and hearts that our passion is to be restored to the living God? Or have we ourselves become so caught up in the spirit of this age that we are content to be rich in information and impoverished in wisdom and godliness?” 1

The first few words of the author are “Remember, O Lord…” (Lam. 5:1). Could God forget? Obviously the answer is “no”, but the author is expressing the repentant heart and pleading heart that proceeds suffering.

One verse that literally jumped off of the page this morning was Lamentations 5:15. It literally is the inverse of Psalm 30:11, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,”. God indeed, has power over our deepest emotion and He alone can take ruin, suffering, and pain and redeem it for His glory.

Lam. 5:19 acknowledges the eternal rock-steady power of God over all things. Lam. 5:21 is a prayer and request for restoration from the only One who can restore us. It is my prayer this morning.

Psalm 36 is a short psalm that begins with a description of the wicked (Ps.36:1-4). The balance of the song teaches us about the steadfast (enduring) love of God. I think it is the text of a song by the group Third Day, “Your Love Oh Lord”. I could hear that song while I read these verses. References to God’s “steadfast love” are repeated three times in Ps. 36:5, Ps. 36:7, and Ps. 36:10.

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

Lamentations 1 and Psalm 32

Today I began reading Lamentations. Lamentations 1 is a cry of the fall of Jerusalem and a recollection of how things were and what they are now. It is a stark contract to the reading from Psalm 32 which is an encouragement for the believer who confesses sin and finds forgiveness.

I am not sure how I will respond to my time in Lamentations. In the past, it has not been a place where I have enjoyed or felt moved by what I have read. I would like to be more disciplined and prepared this time while reading through Lamentations and hear what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach to me.

I am glad for the heart lifting blessings of Psalm 32 however. Beginning with Ps. 32:1-2, this psalm is a great reminder of the cornerstone of our spiritual birth. We are greatly blessed to have our sin covered by the blood of Jesus. I think that I would be stronger spiritually if I would simply remember this truth each day.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,…

See the strong contrast between Ps 32:3-4 when we cover our sin or neglect to confess it to God and Ps. 32:5 when we acknowledge our sin and confess it. However, I believe that it also means that we genuinely confess sin with true sorrow in our heart because of the transgression it is against God. Not simply a pattern of sin, confess to relieve our conscience, and then return to that sin again. I understand that we all struggle with besetting sins that recur in our lives. I think that we do genuinely repent but find ourselves returning to battle those temptations again. In that case, we need to seek the help of the Holy Spirit to gain victory over those temptations. We can however, repeat sin that we confess with a form of superficiality but in reality, we have a great love of the pleasure of that sin than we do of God. That can be a real danger that puts us in a position of the risk of experiencing a hardening of our hearts. I pray that the Holy Spirit protects me from that! I think Ps. 32:6 reflects that thought.

Ps. 32:8-9 speaks of a heart that is willing and obedient to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. The contrast of the unwilling horse that needs a bit in its mouth to lead it tells me of the effects of rebellion against The Lord. How much better to be submissive to the Holy Spirit.

Finally, the contrast in Ps. 32:10 is worth noting. The wicked have many sorrows. The unspoken thing to note is that those sorrows must be borne alone. The contrast is that the one who obeys and follows The Lord may also have sorrows, but he/she also experiences the presence and the love of The Lord. In fact, that love is both steadfast and encompassing (surrounds).