Thursday: Psalms 101-102 & Ezekiel 36.22-32

From Ryan Ruffing

Psalm 101: This psalm is a clear statement about God’s love leading to obedience.  The psalmist begins with a chorus about the Lord’s “steadfast love and justice” (vs. 1), and proceeds in the remainder of the psalm to state his intention to obey God’s way.  Note how this obedience also affects the psalmist’s relationships with others.  As God’s new covenant people we are not called to separation from the nations, as Israel was, but we are nonetheless called to obedience and purity of life.

Psalm 102: The psalmist has been lowered to a place of distress and desperation.  While we are not told the life circumstances that have brought him low, we do learn that the psalmist sees God’s hand as a cause – “for I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink, because of your indignation and anger” (vs. 9-10).  It is possible that this indicates the source of his trouble – perhaps he has been in a state of sinful rebellion against the Lord.  Whatever it’s source, the conclusion of the psalm is clear – God’s abiding kingship and rule guarantee a good result for his people – “for the Lord builds up Zion; he appears in his glory; he regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer” (vs. 16-17).

Ezekiel 36:22-32: These amazing words given to the prophet Ezekiel for the people of Israel, are an astounding testament to God’s intention for his people.  Having initiated a rescue plan for his fallen world in the choosing of Israel, we are dismayed to read in the Old Testament of Israel’s continued disobedience and rebellion against God.  What becomes clear throughout that story of rebellion is that Israel’s problem is a heart problem – the sin problem has infiltrated to the depths of who they are.  If the problem is to be remedied, the solution will have to cut deep.  In these words we hear about God’s intention to do just that – to clean them from their sins (vs. 25) and to literally replace their heart, from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh (vs. 26).  Where before there was an inability to obey God, this heart transplant will result in an obedience made possible by God’s indwelling Spirit (vs. 27).  Far from being a vague theological nicety, this intention of God is made real in history, as we see the Spirit fall on the disciples at Pentecost.  God’s Spirit now dwells not in a particular place (the Old Testament Temple), but in the hearts of all who believe in Christ, enabling them to live lives of obedience.