Ezekiel 22 & Psalm 69

Ezekiel 22

    And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “And you, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Then declare to her all her abominations. You shall say, Thus says the Lord GOD: A city that sheds blood in her midst, so that her time may come, and that makes idols to defile herself! You have become guilty by the blood that you have shed, and defiled by the idols that you have made, and you have brought your days near, the appointed time of your years has come. Therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mockery to all the countries. Those who are near and those who are far from you will mock you; your name is defiled; you are full of tumult.

    “Behold, the princes of Israel in you, every one according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood. Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you. You have despised my holy things and profaned my Sabbaths. There are men in you who slander to shed blood, and people in you who eat on the mountains; they commit lewdness in your midst. In you men uncover their fathers' nakedness; in you they violate women who are unclean in their menstrual impurity. One commits abomination with his neighbor's wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; another in you violates his sister, his father's daughter. In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take interest and profit and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; but me you have forgotten, declares the Lord GOD.

    “Behold, I strike my hand at the dishonest gain that you have made, and at the blood that has been in your midst. Can your courage endure, or can your hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with you? I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it. I will scatter you among the nations and disperse you through the countries, and I will consume your uncleanness out of you. And you shall be profaned by your own doing in the sight of the nations, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

    And the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to me; all of them are bronze and tin and iron and lead in the furnace; they are dross of silver. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have all become dross, therefore, behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As one gathers silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into a furnace, to blow the fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in my anger and in my wrath, and I will put you in and melt you. I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my wrath, and you shall be melted in the midst of it. As silver is melted in a furnace, so you shall be melted in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the LORD; I have poured out my wrath upon you.”

    And the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, say to her, You are a land that is not cleansed or rained upon in the day of indignation. The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured human lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken. The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice. And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord GOD.”

(Ezekiel 22 ESV)

Psalm 69

To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. Of David.

    Save me, O God!
        For the waters have come up to my neck.
    I sink in deep mire,
        where there is no foothold;
    I have come into deep waters,
        and the flood sweeps over me.
    I am weary with my crying out;
        my throat is parched.
    My eyes grow dim
        with waiting for my God.
    More in number than the hairs of my head
        are those who hate me without cause;
    mighty are those who would destroy me,
        those who attack me with lies.
    What I did not steal
        must I now restore?
    O God, you know my folly;
        the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
    Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
        O Lord GOD of hosts;
    let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,
        O God of Israel.
    For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
        that dishonor has covered my face.
    I have become a stranger to my brothers,
        an alien to my mother's sons.
    For zeal for your house has consumed me,
        and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
    When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting,
        it became my reproach.
    When I made sackcloth my clothing,
        I became a byword to them.
    I am the talk of those who sit in the gate,
        and the drunkards make songs about me.
    But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD.
        At an acceptable time, O God,
        in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
    Deliver me
        from sinking in the mire;
    let me be delivered from my enemies
        and from the deep waters.
    Let not the flood sweep over me,
        or the deep swallow me up,
        or the pit close its mouth over me.
    Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good;
        according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
    Hide not your face from your servant,
        for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.
    Draw near to my soul, redeem me;
        ransom me because of my enemies!
    You know my reproach,
        and my shame and my dishonor;
        my foes are all known to you.
    Reproaches have broken my heart,
        so that I am in despair.
    I looked for pity, but there was none,
        and for comforters, but I found none.
    They gave me poison for food,
        and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.
    Let their own table before them become a snare;
        and when they are at peace, let it become a trap.
    Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see,
        and make their loins tremble continually.
    Pour out your indignation upon them,
        and let your burning anger overtake them.
    May their camp be a desolation;
        let no one dwell in their tents.
    For they persecute him whom you have struck down,
        and they recount the pain of those you have wounded.
    Add to them punishment upon punishment;
        may they have no acquittal from you.
    Let them be blotted out of the book of the living;
        let them not be enrolled among the righteous.
    But I am afflicted and in pain;
        let your salvation, O God, set me on high!
    I will praise the name of God with a song;
        I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
    This will please the LORD more than an ox
        or a bull with horns and hoofs.
    When the humble see it they will be glad;
        you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
    For the LORD hears the needy
        and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.
    Let heaven and earth praise him,
        the seas and everything that moves in them.
    For God will save Zion
        and build up the cities of Judah,
    and people shall dwell there and possess it;
        the offspring of his servants shall inherit it,
        and those who love his name shall dwell in it.

(Psalm 69 ESV)

Patient Prayer

Psalm 69 is the prayer of a faithful Israelite who is suffering at the hands of others for some wrong that he has done. However, David’s primary concern throughout this prayer doesn’t seem to be his own disgrace and reputation. He is worried about other faithful Israelites somehow being disgraced because of him, and he is concerned about the reputation of God who seems to be silent in the midst of this suffering.

Are we honest enough to take responsibility when we suffer the consequences of our own sin and are we humble enough to be more concerned about the well-being of others in the midst of this suffering than we are our own well-being?

Some of the language of this psalm is picked up again in the New Testament to describe the suffering of Christ. Our Lord was the faithful Israelite who suffered at the hands of others, but He did so for the wrongs that we had done. Jesus took responsibility for our sin and willingly concerned Himself more with our well-being than His own. So like the psalmist, we may pray for God’s deliverance to come quickly, but because of Jesus, we can faithfully endure what may come with hope knowing that He experienced an unanswered prayer so that our prayers might be answered (Luke 22:42).