Ezekiel 23 and Psalm 70-71


Ezekiel 23 is a chapter that is written with very strong language. The metaphor of two sisters who are prostituting themselves (The ESV uses a coarser term) is harsh to read. One sister represents the northern tribes of Israel who sold themselves out to idolatry and other wickedness and were subdues and taken captive into Assyria (more could be read about how cruel and wicked the Assyrians were). And the younger sister representing the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin — the southern kingdom. The blindness and folly of ever–increasing capitulation to sin is obvious when coupled with this metaphor. It’s not simply a story about a sinful woman, it is a truth about the sinful heart of all men and all women.

The synopsis of the story is found in Ezekiel 23:8-10. A sad fact is that the southern kingdom fell even deeper into sin as evidenced by the elevation of the description of sin committed by the second sister. God’s pronouncement of judgment against her is found in Ezekiel 23:32-35,

Thus says the Lord GOD:

		“You shall drink your sister’s cup 
			that is deep and large; 
		you shall be laughed at and held in derision, 
			for it contains much; 
		you will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow. 
			A cup of horror and desolation, 
		the cup of your sister Samaria; 
			you shall drink it and drain it out, 
		and gnaw its shards, 
			and tear your breasts; 

for I have spoken, declares the Lord GOD. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back, you yourself must bear the consequences of your lewdness and whoring.”

Math is such a simple yet profound reflection of God. Math is truth and God is truth. In the context of this chapter of Ezekiel 23, the math equation is simple:

sin = judgment.


During my first reading of Psalm 70 and Psalm 71, I highlighted all of the verses that speak about God’s deliverance

  • Ps. 70:1
  • Ps. 70:5
  • Ps. 71:1
  • Ps. 71:2
  • Ps. 71:3
  • Ps. 71:5

However, after reading the scheduled devotional from D. A. Carson’s “For the Love of God Volume Two”, the emphasis seems to be more on God’s protection of saints who are older.

Old age. It is not something our generation likes to talk about very much, at least not in realistic categories. We talk about preparing for retirement, but only with the greatest reluctance do we prepare for infirmity and death. Very few talk about these matters openly and frankly–without, on the one hand, dwelling on them (which shows they are frightened by them), or, on the other hand, suppressing them (which again shows they are frightened by them).

It is much more responsible to learn how to age faithfully, to learn how to die well. This the psalmist wanted. “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. … Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come” (Ps. 71:9, Ps. 71:18). From his youth, he knew, God had taught him (Ps. 71:17). Now he prays against abandonment in old age.1

As I grow older, I pray that God will strengthen my faith and my dependance on Him. I pray that I will not fear getting older nor fear the final journey of death which is really a gate to eternal life.

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 19 and Psalm 64-65

The first chapter from Carson’s devotional for today gives a sufficient explanation of Ezekiel 19,

The lament for Israel’s princes (Ezek. 19) is at one level pretty straightforward. The lioness in the opening verses of the psalm is the nation as a whole, which gave birth to the kings. Then as now, the lion was the king of beasts, and so it readily served as a symbol for the royal Davidic line (e.g., Gen. 49:9; Mic. 5:8). In Ezekiel 19:10-14 the nation is the vineyard.1

The fall of a once mighty nation because of it’s sin is sobering. Carson sums it with,

That is neither the first nor the last time that a nation or an institution was destroyed from within. Readers of history may call to mind the Roman Empire, the Russian years under Communism, certain local churches, Christian universities, confessional seminaries, and on and on. They know that human institutions can never be so safely constructed that outcomes are guaranteed. For the heart of the human dilemma is so deeply rooted in personal sin that no structure can finally reform it.2

“Hide Me From the Wicked” is the title summary of Psalm 64 in my Logos Bible. I believe it is David on the run and pleading for God to step in and deal with David’s enemies who pursue him. I, likewise, plead for God (Ps. 64:1) to intervene and subdue my enemy, Satan, and provide me with a place of refuge (Ps. 64:10) which David speaks about frequently in the Psalms.

Psalm 65 speaks of the abundant blessings of God upon His people. I especially like the words of Ps. 65:7,

who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples,

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 Carson.

Ezekiel 18 and Psalm 62-63

Ezekiel 18 is a chapter on personal responsibility. Ezekiel begins the chapter quoting an old proverb and explaining why it is not an acceptable excuse for his listerners to use in excusing their convenant-breaking sin.

The proverb quoted in verse 2, “The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge,” is also found in Jeremiah 31:29, so it must have circulated both in Jerusalem and among the exiles. Apparently some people were using the saying as a cop-out: there was little they could do with their miserable lot, they were saying, since they were suffering for the sins of their fathers, about which they could do nothing. So instead of pursuing justice and covenant renewal, they were using the proverb as an excuse for moral indifference and tired fatalism.1

As a father, however, I must also remember the strong influence that my actions play in the development of my own children. I do not live my life on an island and my sin does in fact influence my children. Carson explains this reality from today’s reading.

We ourselves know that sin is often social in its effects: for instance, children from backgrounds of abuse often become abusers, children from arrogant homes often become arrogant themselves, or turn out to be broken and bitter. Sin is rarely entirely private and individualistic. The proverb is not entirely wrong.2

Having stated that, however, it is important for me to realize with my own background, that I am entirely responsible and accountable for my own choices and my own sin. I love that this chapter very clearly lays out the facts in this regard. A righteous person will not suffer judgment for the sins of his father. If however, a righteous person turns from his convenant relationship with God and begins to sin, he will be held responsible for that sin. Likewise if a sinful person turns from his sin to follow God and to hold to a convenant, his sins will be forgiven and forgotten and he will experience the blessings of God. D.A. Carson explains this further,

Ezekiel’s point is a little different. God is concerned with every individual: “For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son” (Ezekiel 18:3). Moreover, whatever social consequences there are to sin, one must never use the proverb as an excuse to cover current sin. Individual responsibility always prevails: “The soul who sins is the one who will die” (18:4)3

In Psalm 62, the author repeats the refrain, “He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.”
If I trust in anything or anyone else but God for my deliverance, I will be disappointed. Only God can and will protect me. Ps. 62:8 instructs me to trust in Him “…at all times.”

This verse from Psalm 63:1 is very appropriate for me this morning,

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Once again, the psalmist shares his delight in the “steadfast love of God” in Ps. 63:3. Because everything in life seems fleeting and temporary, it is good to be reminded that God’s love endures everything. In a time of life when love seems distant, the reminder of His abiding love is comforting.

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 Carson.

3 Carson.

Ezekiel 17 and Psalm 60-61

Ezekiel 17 is a unique chapter that almost reads like a parable from the New Testament. Jerusalem is counseled to obey Babylon but instead rebels and seeks the help of Egypt and as a result faces destruction. I think of the times, when God has brought me to a certain place which may be uncomfortable or something different from what I would chose. When I try to finagle my way out of the circumstance instead of submitting to His will, I suffer the consequences of my own decision.

Psalm 60 begins with a lament over recent defeat. My life as a believer is not always victorious. Ultimately it is, but during this life, there can be many defeats. The psalmist, however, shares his confidence in the Lord’sdeliverance and protection. My take away from this psalm today is that even though I feel like I am defeated, the refuge that God affords me is present and I can seek shelter in Him.

Psalm 61:2-3 continues the thought from Psalm 61. God is the rock and my refuge. It is in a place that is higher than the depths I find myself in and the Holy Spirit will lead me to that place of refuge—peace amidst the storm and shelter in the middle of war.

I like the words the psalmist ends the psalm with in Ps. 61:8,

So will I ever sing praises to your name,
as I perform my vows day after day

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 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).

Jeremiah 52 and Psalm 31

Jeremiah 52 appears to me to be a sort of appendix to the book of Jeremiah. It is a recounting of the final fall of Jerusalem – a second recounting of 2 Kings 25. Some interesting notes for me are:

  1. The account of the capture of Zedekiah and his humiliation by Nebuchadnezzar
  2. The absence of the record of how Jeremiah was protected by the captain Nebuzaradan.
  3. The treatment of Jehoiachin later on.

This chapter marks the end of the book of Jeremiah. This is the first time I have read through Jeremiah and both enjoyed and understood its context. I have previously not enjoyed my time reading Jeremiah and now I believe I am more prepare to understand it even better the next time I read through it.

Psalm 31:1-5 repeats a recurring theme of refuge and rescue. During these days, these words speak to my heart and remind me of the security I have in Christ. There is no other place of refuge other than the hand of God.

Ps. 31:6 – the psalmist says he hates those who pay regard to worthless idols. I believe it can be easy for us today to succumb to the trap of paying regard to worthless idols like wealth, possessions, pleasure, and narcism. This behavior is a great sin against God and robs Him of the glory He deserves.

Ps. 31:9-10 is a confession of the helpless position we are in apart from the mercy and grace of God.

Ps. 31-11-13 – the psalmist tells us of the contemptible situation he is in. No one understands his plight and his only choice is to turn to God for help (Ps. 31:14-15).

Ps. 31:24 is an encouragement to me because it reminds me that God’s timetable is different from mine. I want resolution now but God’s timing is sovereign. He will deliver when He is ready and His timing is perfect – always! My responsible is to be strong and take courage. The best way for me to do that is to remember His love and His grace in past blessings.