Ezekiel 26 and Psalm 74


Ezekiel 24 is the pronouncement of judgment against Tyre. Tyre was condemned not only for celebrating and participating in the demise of Jerusalem, but also in its role of introducing its false idolatry to Israel.


Psalm 74 is a psalm of anguish by Asaph. Carson shares a very helpful introduction,

It is appropriate to reflect on Psalm 74 at this stage of our reading of the major prophets. It sounds as if it was written at a time of national disaster, perhaps the devastation of 587 b.c. (compare Ps. 79, 137; Lam. 2:5-9). The worst blow of all is that all the prophets are silent (74:9). Then suddenly in the midst of the gloom and havoc is a breath of praise (74:12-17), before the darkness descends again (74:18-23). The interruption is dramatic, and reinforced by a sudden switch from the first person plural (“we,”“us”) to the first person singular:“But you, O God, are my king from of old” (74:12). Noteworthy features include… The anguish of this chapter emerges out of faith, not skepticism, still less cynicism. These people know God, but cannot see what he is doing. They are not so much protesting his punishment of them as its duration: they act as if they know the punishment is deserved, but is it open–ended? Is there no relief? “Why have you rejected us forever, O God?” (74:1). “Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins” (74:3). “How long will the enemy mock you, O God? Will the foe revile your name forever?” (74:10).1

Book: Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest

This morning, I returned to reading the book I started awhile ago by Ed Welch. In the chapter I read today, he addressed fear with Palm 46,

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3)

Yes, the psalm is a stretch for us, not because of the potential brutality of the situation, but because of the psalmist’s radical trust in God. So let it stretch you. Let the psalmist take you places you could never go on your own. Let him be your guide through perilous times. He, after all, is a person like you. The faith he had can be your own and more, because you live on the side of history where the Spirit of God has been poured out on you. The Spirit gives you the knowledge of God. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever–present help in trouble.” A good friend was in the hospital with surgical pain so severe he couldn’t think, and he assumed he was going to die. The only words he could say were these words. That’s what we are aiming for. We want these words to be automatic when trouble comes knocking. What do they mean? That God can be found when we need him. Don’t forget that he was found by Israelites who were not even looking. How much more will he be found by those who call out to him in their desperation. Here is the challenge. When you call out, you might feel like he isn’t present or easily found. That is the nature of pain. The worse it is, the more alone you feel. But this is a time when the words of God must override your feelings. There are times when we listen to our feelings and times when we don’t. This is a time when we don’t.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), 25.

2 Edward T. Welch, Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2007), 272.

Ezekiel 15 and Psalm 56-57

Ezekiel 15 is a short chapter of only 8 verses. The metaphor that Ezekiel uses is that of a dead vine (Ezekiel 15:2). He states that it is basically good for nothing but to be tossed into a fire and used as fuel (Ezek. 15:3-4). Even the remaining charred middle part of the vine that is pulled from the ashes is worthless (Ezek. 15:4-5). Likewise, the judgment on those in Jerusalem will be complete and there will be nothing left of any redeeming value.

It is worth noting that even though God is patient and withholds immediate judgment on our sin by His mercy, His judgment will come and it will be thorough. When I ponder that fact, I am comforted by the truth of the gospel and its effectiveness against the truth of Hebrews 9:27. I am deserving of the same judgment that the people of Jerusalem faced. I too have been guilty of idolatry and I have turned my back on God. Though there is no doubt that I was guilty and facing judgment before Christ redeemed me, I have also sinned against God since becoming a believer. Oh, what a wonderful work of grace the gospel is. Jesus has paid the penalty for my sin. The lyrics from the chorus of the song, Jesus Paid It All express this truth:

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow. 1

Psalm 56 is rich for the believer who is burdened by fear and/or anxiety. Once of the most precious verses is Ps. 56:3, “When I am afraid I will trust in you.” (emphasis mine). It would be a good practice for every believer, myself included, to wake up each morning and quote that verse as a statement of our will!

Ps. 56:8 is a reminder that God does care about every pain we experience whether is is physical or emotional. Certainly the psalmist, David, experience physically pain while he and his men were on the run from King Saul, but the pain he speaks of in these psalms is likely emotional suffering. There is a great value in pairing Ps. 56:8 with Ps. 56:3.

Ps. 56:9-11 is an echo of Ps. 56:3. Since it is repeated again, it makes me pause to contemplate its importance. When I fear or when anxiety is crippling my life, I must trust in God even though I don’t see His hand. John Piper writes about anxiety in the blog at Desiring God:

Jesus must mean that God’s knowing is accompanied by his desiring to meet our need. He is emphasizing we have a Father. And this Father is better than an earthly father.

…He knows everything about them now and tomorrow, inside and out. He sees every need.

Add to that, his huge eagerness to meet their needs (the “much more” of Matt. 6:30). Add to that his complete ability to do what he is eager to do (he feeds billions of birds hourly, Matt. 6:26).…2

D.A. Carson gives a wonderful explanation of the anguish that David felt in Ps. 57:2

Certainly David does not think that somehow circumstances have slipped away from such a God. He begs for mercy, but he recognizes that God, the powerful God, fulfills his purposes in him. This mixture of humble pleading and quiet trust in God’s sovereign power recurs in Scripture again and again. Nowhere does it reach a higher plane than in the prayer of the Lord Jesus in the garden: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). In some measure or another, every follower of Jesus Christ will want to learn the anguish and the joy of that sort of praying.3

My prayer this morning is that I can redeem the burden that I carry by the power of the Holy Spirit for His glory and for my good.

1 Faith Publishing House, Evening Light Songs, 1949, edited 1987 (466); All to Christ I Owe

2 John Piper, “Your Father Knows What You Need,” Desiring God (blog), February 9, 2009, http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/your-father-knows-what-you-need.

3 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 14 and Psalm 55

Today’s reading from Ezekiel 14 is particularly critical of the idolatry that lives in a person’s heart. It is evil to put on a facade of obeying God on the outside and loving something else more on the inside. D.A. Carson identifies this in the following paragraph:

…the peculiar expression “set up idols in their hearts,” repeated several times with minor variations in 14:1-8, reeks of duplicity. Publicly there may be a fair bit of covenantal allegiance, but heart loyalty simply isn’t there. To set up idols in the heart is to separate oneself from the living God (14:7).1

That is a harsh indictment from Ezek. 14:8 and it cause me to take inventory of my own heart. Carson goes on to say,

That danger is no less treacherous today than in Ezekiel’s time. Somehow we manage to adhere to our creedal profession, but if anything goes wrong our undisciplined rage shows that we maintain little real trust in the living God: our secret idol is comfort and physical well-being. We attend church, but rarely do we pray in private or thoughtfully read the Word of God. We sing lustily at missionary conventions, but have not shared the Gospel with anyone for years. And deep down we are more interested in our reputation, or in sex, or in holidays, than we are in basking in the awesome radiance and majesty of God. 2

I found the last section of Ezekiel 14 particularly interesting. God tells Ezekiel that even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were present in Jerusalem, judgment would still take place. (Ezek. 14:12-23)

The reasoning presupposes the theology of Genesis 18: God may spare a wicked city or nation for the sake of the just who reside there. But where wickedness overflows, not even the presence of Noah (spared from the Flood), Job (declared “blameless” and “upright,” Job 1:1), and Daniel (Ezekiel’s contemporary, serving in the Babylonian courts, renowned for his piety) will stay the disaster that God ordains.3

Psalm 55 is a beautiful and timely psalm for me this morning. Ps.55:1-3 is an expression of my heart. In my case, the enemy is Satan and his desire for my destruction.

Ps. 55:4-5 express the spiritual/emotional pain of the psalmist and Ps. 55:6-8 defines the panic of his heart. In spite of the pain and fear, the psalmist responds in faith in Ps. 55:16—“But I call to God, and the Lord will save me” and the last part of Ps. 55:23—“…But I will trust in you.”

The verse that I will carry with me today is from Psalm 55:22:

Cast your burden on the Lord
  and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
  the righteous to be moved.

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.,

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).

Ezekiel 6 and Psalm 44

In Ezekiel 6, God tells Ezekiel to set his face toward the mountains. The significance of the mountains is likely the high places of idol worship in Israel. The following is a description from The Bible Knowledge Commentary:

High places were in Canaan before Israel arrived, and God commanded Israel to destroy them (Num. 33:52). …After the temple in Jerusalem was completed, worshiping at high places was once again discouraged. Most high places remaining in the land were dedicated to false gods (1 Kings 11:7–10). 1

Ezekiel’s actions and condemnation would surely ring clear in the minds of the exiles as they remembered the rampant idolatry that occurred in the land prior to its destruction and judgment.
In Ezekiel 6:13-14, the pronouncement of Ezekiel 6:17 is repeated. The Bible Knowledge Commentary describes these verses:

The imagery in verses 1–7 was repeated here as God promised He would slay the people … among … their altars, on every high hill and … under every spreading tree and every leafy oak. Often on the high places where altars were built were luxuriant trees, which represented growth and possibly fertility (cf. Hosea 4:13). The “oak” (’ēlâh) was the terebinth tree. It is a deciduous tree common to Palestine and grows to a height of 35–40 feet. The Elah Valley, where David slew Goliath, probably received its name because of the abundance of these trees (1 Sam. 17:2, 19).

God had given Israel a land luxurious with “spreading” trees and “leafy” oaks, but the people corrupted His gift, using these displays of His bounty as places to offer fragrant incense to all their idols. Therefore God would reduce their rich land to rubble—a desolate waste from the desert to Diblah. (Dyer, 2)

These current times are full of idolatry. From greed to covetousness to the prosperity gospel, my generation is seeking for a god in all of the wrong places while vehemently denying the true God.

Psalm 44 is definitely a change from many of the previous Psalms which have been filled with hope or testimonies of God’s faithfulness. Ps. 44 instead appears to be a question of why God appears to ignore those who are trying to follow Him. I found some helpful insight from D. A. Carson’s For the Lord of God Volume Two:

At least two hints toward the end of the psalm, though they do not provide “solutions,” invite the reader to reflect on the direction taken by later biblical writers. (1) Sometimes God’s apparent sleep, his withdrawal (44:23ff.), is not overt wrath poured out on our sin, but his own timing. He refuses to be hurried, and his “unfailing love” (44:26) will triumph in the end. The ebbs and flows of Christian history support the same stance: they do not always correspond with differing degrees of loyalty or different methods. As one commentator (F. D. Kidner) has finely put it, “Although its picture of the sleeping Lord may seem naive to us, it was acted out in the New Testament, to teach a lesson which we still find relevant: cf. verse 23 with Mark 4:38.” (2) More stunningly, the psalmist says it is “for your sake [that] we face death all day long” (44:22, italics added). That point is not fully developed until Paul quotes the verse (Rom. 8:36ff.). But already it embraces the notion that some suffering is not the result of our sin but simply the result of being faithful to God in a world at war with him. In such cases suffering is not a sign of defeat but a badge of fidelity and fellowship, even of victory: we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). 3

1 Dyer, Charles H. “Ezekiel.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck. Vol. 1. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985. 1238. Print.

3 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.