Ezekiel 23 & Psalm 70-71

Ezekiel 23

    The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother. They played the whore in Egypt; they played the whore in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and their virgin bosoms handled. Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister. They became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.

    “Oholah played the whore while she was mine, and she lusted after her lovers the Assyrians, warriors clothed in purple, governors and commanders, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding on horses. She bestowed her whoring upon them, the choicest men of Assyria all of them, and she defiled herself with all the idols of everyone after whom she lusted. She did not give up her whoring that she had begun in Egypt; for in her youth men had lain with her and handled her virgin bosom and poured out their whoring lust upon her. Therefore I delivered her into the hands of her lovers, into the hands of the Assyrians, after whom she lusted. These uncovered her nakedness; they seized her sons and her daughters; and as for her, they killed her with the sword; and she became a byword among women, when judgment had been executed on her.

    “Her sister Oholibah saw this, and she became more corrupt than her sister in her lust and in her whoring, which was worse than that of her sister. She lusted after the Assyrians, governors and commanders, warriors clothed in full armor, horsemen riding on horses, all of them desirable young men. And I saw that she was defiled; they both took the same way. But she carried her whoring further. She saw men portrayed on the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion, wearing belts on their waists, with flowing turbans on their heads, all of them having the appearance of officers, a likeness of Babylonians whose native land was Chaldea. When she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoring lust. And after she was defiled by them, she turned from them in disgust. When she carried on her whoring so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned in disgust from her sister. Yet she increased her whoring, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt and lusted after her lovers there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses. Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed your young breasts.”

    Therefore, O Oholibah, thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I will stir up against you your lovers from whom you turned in disgust, and I will bring them against you from every side: the Babylonians and all the Chaldeans, Pekod and Shoa and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them, desirable young men, governors and commanders all of them, officers and men of renown, all of them riding on horses. And they shall come against you from the north with chariots and wagons and a host of peoples. They shall set themselves against you on every side with buckler, shield, and helmet; and I will commit the judgment to them, and they shall judge you according to their judgments. And I will direct my jealousy against you, that they may deal with you in fury. They shall cut off your nose and your ears, and your survivors shall fall by the sword. They shall seize your sons and your daughters, and your survivors shall be devoured by fire. They shall also strip you of your clothes and take away your beautiful jewels. Thus I will put an end to your lewdness and your whoring begun in the land of Egypt, so that you shall not lift up your eyes to them or remember Egypt anymore.

    “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will deliver you into the hands of those whom you hate, into the hands of those from whom you turned in disgust, and they shall deal with you in hatred and take away all the fruit of your labor and leave you naked and bare, and the nakedness of your whoring shall be uncovered. Your lewdness and your whoring have brought this upon you, because you played the whore with the nations and defiled yourself with their idols. You have gone the way of your sister; therefore I will give her cup into your hand. 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.”

    The LORD said to me: “Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Declare to them their abominations. For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. With their idols they have committed adultery, and they have even offered up to them for food the children whom they had borne to me. Moreover, this they have done to me: they have defiled my sanctuary on the same day and profaned my Sabbaths. For when they had slaughtered their children in sacrifice to their idols, on the same day they came into my sanctuary to profane it. And behold, this is what they did in my house. They even sent for men to come from afar, to whom a messenger was sent; and behold, they came. For them you bathed yourself, painted your eyes, and adorned yourself with ornaments. You sat on a stately couch, with a table spread before it on which you had placed my incense and my oil. The sound of a carefree multitude was with her; and with men of the common sort, drunkards were brought from the wilderness; and they put bracelets on the hands of the women, and beautiful crowns on their heads.

    “Then I said of her who was worn out by adultery, ‘Now they will continue to use her for a whore, even her!’ For they have gone in to her, as men go in to a prostitute. Thus they went in to Oholah and to Oholibah, lewd women! But righteous men shall pass judgment on them with the sentence of adulteresses, and with the sentence of women who shed blood, because they are adulteresses, and blood is on their hands.”

    For thus says the Lord GOD: “Bring up a vast host against them, and make them an object of terror and a plunder. And the host shall stone them and cut them down with their swords. They shall kill their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses. Thus will I put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not commit lewdness as you have done. And they shall return your lewdness upon you, and you shall bear the penalty for your sinful idolatry, and you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.”

(Ezekiel 23 ESV)


Psalm 70

To the choirmaster. Of David, for the memorial offering.

    Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
        O LORD, make haste to help me!
    Let them be put to shame and confusion
        who seek my life!
    Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor
        who delight in my hurt!
    Let them turn back because of their shame
        who say, “Aha, Aha!”
    
    
    May all who seek you
        rejoice and be glad in you!
    May those who love your salvation
        say evermore, “God is great!”
    But I am poor and needy;
        hasten to me, O God!
    You are my help and my deliverer;
        O LORD, do not delay!

(Psalm 70 ESV)


Psalm 71

    In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
        let me never be put to shame!
    In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
        incline your ear to me, and save me!
    Be to me a rock of refuge,
        to which I may continually come;
    you have given the command to save me,
        for you are my rock and my fortress.
    
    
    Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
        from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
    For you, O Lord, are my hope,
        my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
    Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
        you are he who took me from my mother's womb.
    My praise is continually of you.
    
    
    I have been as a portent to many,
        but you are my strong refuge.
    My mouth is filled with your praise,
        and with your glory all the day.
    Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
        forsake me not when my strength is spent.
    For my enemies speak concerning me;
        those who watch for my life consult together
    and say, “God has forsaken him;
        pursue and seize him,
        for there is none to deliver him.”
    
    
    O God, be not far from me;
        O my God, make haste to help me!
    May my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
        with scorn and disgrace may they be covered
        who seek my hurt.
    But I will hope continually
        and will praise you yet more and more.
    My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
        of your deeds of salvation all the day,
        for their number is past my knowledge.
    With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come;
        I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
    
    
    O God, from my youth you have taught me,
        and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
    So even to old age and gray hairs,
        O God, do not forsake me,
    until I proclaim your might to another generation,
        your power to all those to come.
    Your righteousness, O God,
        reaches the high heavens.
    You who have done great things,
        O God, who is like you?
    You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
        will revive me again;
    from the depths of the earth
        you will bring me up again.
    You will increase my greatness
        and comfort me again.
    
    
    I will also praise you with the harp
        for your faithfulness, O my God;
    I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
        O Holy One of Israel.
    My lips will shout for joy,
        when I sing praises to you;
        my soul also, which you have redeemed.
    And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long,
    for they have been put to shame and disappointed
        who sought to do me hurt.

(Psalm 71 ESV)

The following is taken from D.A. Carson's For the Love of God...

 

MOST CHRISTIANS HAVE listened to testimonies that relate how some man or woman lived a life of fruitlessness and open degradation, or at least of quiet desperation, before becoming a Christian. Genuine faith in the Lord Christ brought about a personal revolution: old habits destroyed, new friends and commitments estab- lished, a new direction to give meaning and orientation. Where there was despair, there is now joy; where there was turmoil, there is now peace; where there was anxiety, there is now some measure of serenity. And some of us who were reared in Christian homes have secretly wondered if perhaps it might have been better if we had been converted out of some rotten background.

That is not the psalmist’s view. “For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb” (Ps. 71:5-6). “Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds” (71:17). Indeed, because of this background, the psalmist calmly looks over the interven- ing years and petitions God for persevering grace into old age: “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone” (71:9). “But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more” (71:14). “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” (71:18).

Doubtless particular circumstances were used by God to elicit these words from the psalmist’s pen. Nevertheless, the stance itself is invaluable. The most thoughtful of those who are converted later in life wish they had not wasted so many of their early years. Now that they have found the pearl of great price, their only regret is that they did not find it sooner. More importantly, those who are reared in godly Christian homes are steeped in Scripture from their youth. There is plenty in Scripture and in personal experience to disclose to them the perver- sity of their own hearts; they do not have to be sociopaths to discover what depravity means. They will be sufficiently ashamed of the sins they have com- mitted, despite their backgrounds, that instead of wishing they could have had a worse background (!), they sometimes hang their head in shame that they have done so little with their advantages, and frankly recognize that apart from the grace of God, there is no crime and sin to which they could not sink.

It is best, by far, to be grateful for a godly heritage and to petition God him- self for grace that will see you through old age.