Psalm 99-101

Psalm 98-101

I love the 3 psalms in today’s reading. Psalm 99 begins with a reverant praise of God. Carson notes,

After the unrestrained joy of Psalm 98, there follows in Psalm 99 a profound reverence. We have moved from a festival of praise to a cathedral.
The psalm divides into two parts. The theme of the first is established by the repeated line, “he is holy” (99:3, 5). This does not mean something as narrow as saying that God is good or moral (though it does not exclude such notions). The emphasis is on the sheer “Godness” of God—what makes him different from human beings, what makes him uniquely God. 1

Psalm 100 will always be special to me. When I was in college, I participated in a contest for preaching. As one of three finalists, I used Psalm 100 as my text. Psalm 100:5 is one of my favorite verses and it so happens to mention the “steadfast love of God” which has been a theme for me this summer.

Psalm 101 speak of the integrity of the believer. It includes a promise of conviction in Ps. 101:3—a purposeful plan to keep greed, lust, and envy at bay. It also includes a reference to the “steadfast love of God” in Ps. 101:1.

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).

Ezekiel 38 and Psalm 89


Ezekiel 38 begins the familiar prophecy against Gog and Magog. I always thought this was referring to Moscow but D. A. Carson has a different take,

Along similar lines, Ezekiel 38 begins by denouncing “Gog, chief prince of Meschech and Tubal” (38:3). The suggestion that these names refer to Moscow and Tobolsk is without linguistic merit. The pair of names appears elsewhere (Gen. 10:2; 1 Chron. 1:5; Ezek. 27:13; 32:26) and refers to the known tribes of Moschoi and Tibarenoi. Gog is perhaps to be identified with Gyges, king of Lydia (called Gugu in some ancient records). More importantly, this anticipated horde of opponents to God’s people comes from the “far north” (38:6)—which is the direction from which the worst of Israel’s foes always came. The chapter ends in apocalyptic imagery (38:18-23)—which begins to make the scene feel like an idealized and final outbreak against the people of God, in which God vindicates his name and his cause. Thus all previous outbreaks anticipate, and are concluded by, this final apocalyptic struggle.

Chapters 38-39 appear to be the end of the first part of Ezekiel with 40-48 coming a number of years later. Knowing that brings a more climatic feel too chapters-39 for me. I appreciate the portions of the Scripture that obviously identify God as the final victor in the great battles of human history.


As I have identified before, I’ve been highlighting the phrase “the steadfast love of God” in the Psalms as I read. Psalm 89 opens will several instances of this phrase beginning with Ps. 89:1. It is found again in Ps. 89:2.

The steadfast love of God has been one of the most important promise of God for me over the last six months. I cherish the comfort of God’s abiding love.

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.

Ezekiel 36 and Psalm 86


Ezekiel 36 suggests to me a bit of a shift from judgment to hope. God tells Ezekiel to give a pronouncement to the Mountains of Israel (Ezekiel 36:1-15). It seems like an inverse of Ezekiel 35 and the pronouncement to the Mount Seir. This chapter feels full of hope for the restoration of Israel, especially since the judgment has been so severe, albeit deserving so. God also reiterates the history that led up to this point reminding Israel that it was her sins and her disobedience that caused all of the suffering.

I believe that God seeks restoration with His people, but because He is holy, His justice demands an accounting for sin. These are critical characteristics of God and we can not change Who He is, nor should we want to. The variable here is my own human heart. Am I willing to submit to God who alone can cover the darkness of my heart and allow Him to direct my path or will I stubbornly refuse and follow my flawed will into deeper darkness?


We return to David as the author of today’s psalm, Psalm 86. There are several verses that I identified by highlighting them in my Bible. Psalm 86:5, Psalm 86:13, and Psalm 86:15 all reference the “steadfast love of God” I think one reason this phrase stands out to me is because it was a promise to me all of this summer that God had not forgotten me and He had not forsaken me. His love was “steadfast” and nothing would change that. David experienced a great deal of lonliness and at times, despair, yet he always held on to the “steadfast love of God” as an anchor in his life.

When I read the news or listen to others talk about current events or the culture of today at large, I often feel a very strong check in my spirit. It is in those moments and frankly all of the time, that I appreciate the realization that God’s love is steadfast and He is unchangeable. My love for the Word of God grows stronger all of the time because I need to know more about God.

Lord, I need You, Oh, I need You
  Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
  Oh God, how I need You1

1 Christy Nockels, Daniel Carson, Jesse Reeves, Kristian Stanfill, and Matt Maher. “Lord, I Need You.” Song Select ( : accessed 3 October 2014).

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 13 and Psalm 52-54

Ezekiel 13 is divided into two parts. The first part (Ezekiel 13:1-16) is Ezekiel’s pronouncement of woe against the false prophets who instead of warning Jerusalem about the impending judgment like Jeremiah was doing, instead proclaimed that peace was coming (Ezke. 13:10). They are likened to “whitewashed walls.”

It makes me think of the many false preachers today who speak only of riches and prosperity and neglect to preach against sin and judgment. Even though each person is ultimately responsible for their own relationship to God, the wicked effect of the prosperity preachers upon people will one day face accountability with God. Carson describes them,

They are more interested in auguries, telling personal fortunes, serving as “prophetic” personal hope-spinners, than in conveying the word of the Lord. They are not really serious people—except for their seriousness when it comes to getting paid (Ezekiel 13:17-19).1

The second part of Ezekiel 13 is a pronouncment against women who use magic to foretell the future (Ezekiel 13:17-23). Ezekiel avoids calling them prophetesses. This section is a little more obscure to me, however, I think that it also refers to women who speak the things that people want to hear rather than the truth.

Psalm 52 and Psalm 53 speak about the wicked and those who deny God. I highlighted Ps. 52:1 and Ps. 52:8; both speak about the “steadfast love of God”

Psalm 54 take a bit of a turn and sings about the God who upholds my life. Ps. 54:4 and Ps. 54:7 speak about God upholding me and delivering me. These are solid promises that I can hold on to even when doubt and fear are strong.

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.


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.