Bible reading for September 13 -- 14
Sep 13 -- Ezekiel 16 and Psalms 58-59
Sep 14 -- Ezekiel 17 and Psalms 60-61
"I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the LORD..." (Ezekiel 16:62)
YOUR CHEATING HEART (ch 16). Israel's physical ancestry traced back to Abraham who lived in Ur of the Chaldees. But their spiritual culture, their pedigree once settled in the land, was more like the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites (vv 3, 45), and even like the city of Sodom. This chapter is a poignant parable of God's longsuffering care for his people, being like a loving husband rejected by his wife. Israel's beauty and wealth, given to her by her Lord, lifts her up in pride and immorality (v 15; cf Lucifer in 28:17). Idols are allowed on every street (v 23) and the blood of their children ran down in the pagan sacrifices (vv 20, 36). The blessings from their glorious Lord were turned to self-glory. Like Sodom (v 49; cf Gen 19; Lev 18:22) they reveled in their ease, prosperity, gluttony, neglect of the poor, and sexual immorality. Here's the verdict: Israel is an "adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband!" (v 32) Divine jealousy means that the Lord is zealous to preserve our relationship with him (1 Cor 10:21-22; 11:2). We do well to remember that God is fiercely protective of our covenant with him. Read here what C. H. Spurgeon wrote about God's jealousy.
COVENANT RESTORED. Yet, in spite of Israel's failures God speaks of her repentance and future restoration. Though the people cannot seem to stay faithful to their covenant with God, he will bring them into an everlasting covenant with himself (vv 53-63; cf 36:23-28). This reconciliation and covenant would come about only through the death and resurrection of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus (Heb 10). And we are told there will be salvation and blessing for even some of those pagan peoples. "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth" (Rev 5:9-10).
TWO EAGLES (ch 17). In this parable we learn that it was God's will that his people submit to his judgment, namely, that they experience exile and fealty to Babylon, which is represented by an eagle. But the people rebelled and put their trust in a second eagle, which was Egypt, to help deliver them from Babylon's military. This plan would backfire and result in much more pain and suffering. When we experience the Lord's chastisement we should remember to humble ourselves (1 Pet 5:6), rather than fight against God's purposes. Though painful, there is blessing in responding well to such discipline: "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Heb 12:11).
"Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy." (Psalm 61:2-3)
TRUE JUDGMENT (Ps 58). This word for "gods" or "mighty ones" is used here for human judges, as in the court system (v 1). As justices of the law they were to represent God in their rulings. When there was corruption in that process -- receiving bribes, being biased, showing favoritism, overlooking idolatry or injustice, etc. -- this was viewed as a very serious breach. It is one thing to break the law as a criminal, it is another and more serious thing to be a judge (or ruler, or religious leader, or law-enforcer) and do that. David calls out these judges who perverted God's standards of righteousness in the land. God's righteousness, and his righteousness exercised in justice, is a key theme in Psalms (e.g., Ps 9:7-8; 89:14).
FINDING STRENGTH (Ps 59). Several of these psalms, beginning with Psalm 52, date back to David's period of exile under King Saul. Even when he is under surveillance (Ps 59), he feels like he's being watched by a pack of wild dogs circling for the kill. But his confidence was in the Lord: "But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress" (v 16).
BORDER WARS (Ps 60). In this psalm David struggles with some defeats by nations on their border. Warfare was common in the ancient world. The land of Israel was a narrow, New Jersey-sized land bridge between the north (Asian powers, such as Syria, Assyria, and Babylon) and the south (African empires of Egypt and Ethiopia). In addition, sea peoples from the west (Philistines) and desert raiders from the east (Midianites) exerted pressure. Also, peace was always tenuous with Moab and Edom to the south and east. War was an annual occurrence (2 Samuel 11:1), and boundaries moved, depending on who won the most recent battle. Since Israel had no standing army, and livestock and crops needed protection, all young men had to be ready to go into battle at a moment's notice. King David trusted God to give success in battle and so preserve their nation.
A FAINT HEART (Ps 61). David is tired, and he prays for strength and stability from the Lord, who is his Rock and fortress. He vows to keep praising God! We are reminded again and again that the Christian life will always involve struggle, fighting against sin, resisting spiritual forces, and not yielding to weariness. Jonathan Edwards wrote, "God has appointed this whole life to be all as a race or a battle; the state of rest, wherein we shall be so out of danger as to have no need of watching and fighting, is for another world."
Image credit: Photo of Conwy, Abergele, Wales (UK) by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash. About this newsletter: I'm Sandy Young, and I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Subscribe for email at Buttondown.email/Sandy. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. A very helpful resource is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.
Bible reading for September 13 -- 14