Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.
Psalm 78:38-39 (NIV)
Read: Psalm 78:32-43
Consider: Psalm 78 speaks of God’s dealings with the people of Israel when he brought them out of Egypt, led them through the desert and finally brought them into the promised land. What they witnessed was God’s awesome power, displayed through many miracles and wondrous signs.
Over the centuries many ‘learned’ individuals have tried to come up with explanations from nature for these miracles and some of these explanations might even sound plausible. Despite the plausibility of the explanations they fall against one thing – that the events took place at the exact moment when the people of Israel needed God’s assistance.
I am sure there were some of the people who witnessed God’s deliverance, yet convinced themselves that what happened had a natural explanation. Either they were content to accept a natural explanation rather than admitting that God intervened on their behalf, or they didn’t allow the fact of God’s deliverance to positively influence their lives. Either way what they should have learned from these events was lost on them. This is reiterated in Psalm 78:32 where we read: In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.
How was God to deal with them? Despite the constant rebellion of the people of Israel we are told in Psalm 78 that God was merciful. He would have been justified in punishing them, but he chose instead to lavish his grace on them and offer them a way back to himself. If you doubt this, read the early chapters of Judges where you will see that each time the people forgot God, he raised up a judge to deliver them. The judges were sent to provide the means of deliverance and to bring back to their memory how gracious God is.
The grace that was freely available to the people of Israel then, is available to us today in the person of Jesus Christ. God is still patient, he is still merciful, he still wants to give people a chance to respond to his call and to seek his forgiveness.
Pray: Father, thank you that you ‘… are a merciful God, slow to anger and swift to bless’. May we truly understand the implications of this when we share the gospel with others. Help us to be faithful in sowing the seed, allowing you to bring about the harvest. Amen