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.

Lamentations 3 and Psalm 34

Lamentations 3 opens with the phrase, “I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath. What a powerful statement that is! I don’t know if this chapter is the story of a man or of a nation, but nevertheless, it is a story of strong judgment and affliction. The interesting and thought provoking point of this chapter is the two interludes of the grace of God. The first one is found in Lamentations 3:21-26 and the second one is Lamentations 3:55-57.

In addition, there is hope for the chastened in Lamentations 3:31-33. “… though he cause grief, he will have compassion…” 

I find it very interesting the parallel contrasts both yesterday and today in the coresponding readings of Lamentations and Psalms: judgment and grace, pain, sorrow, and affliction versus joy, praise and testimony.

Today’s reading in Psalms 34 is full of hope. Ps. 34:1-4 is the praise and testimony of a man who has experienced the glory of God. 

Ps. 34:8 – “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” This is a call to experience God Himself, not just His blessing but God Himself. When life is tough and hard, I can find refuge in God alone. That is the most likely time that I will experience the blessing shared by the psalmist in verse 8.

Ps. 34:10 seems like a promise that I want to grab onto right now: “…but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. ” I must remember that it is God who defines what is a good thing.

Ps. 32:15, Ps. 34:17, and Ps. 34:19 all refer to the righteous and the promises of God that pertain to the righteous. What makes a man righteous? Is it my works? Is the nature of my heart? No, it is the saving work of the Saviour alone that makes a man righteous before God (Romans 3:21-22).