Ezekiel 16 and Psalm 58-59

It seems to be God’s mysterious way that the morningss when I seemly have the least amount of time, he directs me to readings that are the longest. Ezekiel 16 is a longer chapter of 63 verses. While Ezekiel 15 compared the people of Jerusalem to the dead vine that was profitable for nothing but the fire, Ezekiel 16 compares them to the woman who has fallen to adultery and prostitution. Carson give a thoughtful description,

The language is shocking, horrible—and it is meant to be. The long analogy begins as a rather extreme version of My Fair Lady: absolutely everything this woman enjoys, not least life itself, is the direct result of God’s gracious intervention. But quite unlike My Fair Lady, in which the man proves to be an unthinking and self-centered manipulator until the “lady” he has created out of a street urchin rebukes him, here God is the One who proves indomitably faithful. Moreover, he is hurt by the ingratitude and betrayal implicit in this lady’s constant pursuit of other lovers—i.e., other gods. She proves to be not only “weak-willed” but “brazen” (Ezekiel 16:30). Worse, while prostitutes receive a fee for their services, this woman pays others so that she can sleep with them. Israel has not so much been seduced by idolatry or somehow been paid to engage in idolatry, as she has taken the active role and has paid quite a bit so that she can indulge in idolatry, precisely because that is what she wants to do.1

One of the ideas that I thought about this morning while reading Ezekiel 16 was the critical importance of convenant keeping both for myself and for the character of God. There are several verses in this chapter that are important to re-read:

  • Ezekiel 16:43
  • Ezekiel 16:60
  • Ezekiel 16:61
  • Ezekiel 16:63

While reading each of the above verses, reflect on 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. One of the key words in each of these passages is remember. When the temptation to sin presents itself, do I pause to remember? Do the promises of God come to mind? Do I recall the “red letter” words of Jesus?

Years back, the organization Promise Keepers was started. There was much emphasis placed on being a man who kept his promises to his wife, his children, his employer, etc. These are critical steps of being a good man, but the most important promise or covenant that a man or woman must keep is the convenant with God! Promise Keepers likely addressed that point also, I don’t recall, but regardless, it is one of if not the most important actions that I must purpose to take.

In Psalm 58, David cries out to God to curse and punish his enemies. We have a strong desire for justice. When wicked men attack us or the people and ideas we care about, we long for God to step in anc deal with the “bad guys”! But what about when I am the bad guy? Do I still desire God’s justice when I am the offending one? It seems like we are pleased with God’s justice when it concerns others and God’s mercy when it concerns us. I am thankful for the mercy of God, but I hope it compels me to judge my own sin and bring it before the cross.

Psalm 59 continues the plea of the psalmist for God to rise up against his enemies. It adds an additional aspect of his cry for protection from God. My favorite verses from this psalm are found near the end. Psalm 59:16 describes God as a fortress and a refuge. David praise God for His “steadfast love”, a phrase describing God that I have observed in many of the psalms that I have read recently.

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 9 and Psalm 48

Ezekiel 9 is a sobering passage. In his vision, Ezekiel sees God call forth the “executioners”. There are six of them – one commentary describes them as Levite guards and another as heavenly beings. Each one is equipped with a mappats (some type of war club, literally “shattering weapon”). There is also a seventh figure whose responsibility is to go throughout the population of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of any of those who have not been a part of the idolatry, a righteous remnant. The executioners begin with the elders, the first group described in Ezek. 8:11.

Ezekiel falls on his face and cried out to the Lord in fear that all the people would be destroyed and there would be no remnant. This reminds me of Abraham’s cry to The Lord when God was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:23-33).

After much patience, God’s wrath is now spent on Jerusalem because of her disobedience and her idolatry. There is not an “if” with God’s judgment, only a “when”.

Reading this chapter this morning gave me pause to wonder how long the Lord will continue to hold back His righteous judgment on our nation. Our country is guilty of the same sins as the people of Israel and the pace of degeneration seems to be increasing every year.

Psalm 48 opens with a praise to God. Ps. 48:1-2 is familiar to me because of the song we used to sing when I was a teenager. It comes from these verses,

Ps. 48 Song graphic

I can hear my wife beautifully singing it in my mind. The psalmist is expressing the greatness of the city, because God’s presence is there. It is God Who makes Zion a place of strength and beauty. Likewise for the believer, it is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that makes us the temple of God today.

There are two things that are repeated again in this Psalm that caught my attention this morning. The first is the statement in Ps. 48:3, “…God has made himself know as a fortress.” God as a place of refuge is reiterated throughout the Psalms. As humans, we are extremely vulnerable and only God can provide ‘safe haven’ for our souls.

The second is Ps. 48:9 where the psalmist again talks about the ‘steadfast love’ of God. The love we receive and give to other people is subject to failure. God’s love cannot and will not fail. It is enduring and never changing. That is a precious promise for me to grasp.


Ezekiel 8 and Psalm 46-47

Ezekiel 8 begins a vision that extends through chapter 11. He see four instances of idolatry:

  1. Ezek. 8:3-6 he sees the idol that provokes God to jealousy. The king is complicit and rather than lead the people in faithfulness, he leads them in compromise.
  2. Ezek. 8:7-13 he sees the seventy elders unclean creatures.
  3. Ezek. 8:14-15 he sees women engaged with a fertility cult.
  4. Ezek. 8:16 he sees the priests with their backs to the temple worshiping the sun.

D. A. Carson responds to these events:

Modern forms of idolatry are different, of course. Most of us have not been caught mourning for Tammuz. But do our hearts pursue things that rightly make God jealous? Do we love dirty and forbidden things? Do we ascribe success to everything but God? We may not succumb to fertility cults, but doesn’t our culture make sex itself a god? 1

Psalm 46 opens with,

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear …

It is reason enough that God is a place of safety and security. When we run to Him, we do not need to fear. Allen P. Ross writes,

The psalmist declared that God is the Refuge (mahseh, “shelter from danger”; cf. comments on 14:6) and Strength (cf. comments on 18:1) of believers. In other words they find safety and courage by trusting in Him, who is always present to help them (see comments on 30:10) in their troubles. So the saints need not fear, even if many perils come against them. The language is hyperbolic, to describe how great the perils may be that could come. No matter what happens, those trusting in Him are safe. 2

Ps. 46:7 again speaks of God as a “fortress”. It is repeated in Ps. 46:11. When the world experiences the wrath of God, believers are safe inside the might fortress of God. This is the same place of protection that Martin Luther penned about in his hymn, A Might Fortress is Our God,

A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal. 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), 25.

2 Allen P. Ross, “Psalms,” 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), 828.

3 Martin Luther, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (No. 75) in The Brethren Hymnal (Elgin, IL: House of the Church of the Brethren, 1951).