"And God? Compassionate!
Forgave the sin! Didn’t destroy!
Over and over he reined in his anger,
restrained his considerable wrath.
He knew what they were made of;
he knew there wasn’t much to them,
How often in the desert they had spurned him,
tried his patience in those wilderness years.
Time and again they pushed him to the limit,
provoked Israel’s Holy God."
Psalm 78:38-41 The Message
This part of Psalm 78 gives us a special glimpse into the character of our God. It's describing a time when God's own people were apparently disobedient, uncaring, weak, and in every imagination of the description, away from God. These were a people he loved and for which he had provided guidance and direction for generations. Yet, they spurned him and tried his patience. Those last two lines in the scripture above speak volumes. "Time and again they pushed him to the limit, provoked Israel's Holy God."
When I read that part about pushing him to the limit, my thoughts led me to ask, "Have I ever pushed God to the limit?" Having pondered on that thought for a while, I then reflected on my blunders and my mistakes and actually shivered at the thought of God reaching his limits with me! It gives me a better picture of how much pushing his limits is a dangerous way of life.
I rushed back up to the first part of this section of verses......(I like them better.) The part that tells me God is compassionate, He forgives the sin and doesn't destroy us, and he restrains his considerable wrath. Yes.....those are the verses which are more pleasant to read.
Those verses in the middle are also quite revealing. The people of God were known by God. He knew there wasn't much to them because they had spurned him often and tried his patience during the wilderness years. It describes how they, and yes, we, push God to the limits in dealing with his people.
We are blessed to have a Heavenly Father that continues to love us. He longs for the restoration of those who have spurned his love and grace. When we incline ourselves to get back in relationship with him through obedience and a new direction, we realize he is compassionate and forgiving, and those qualities of God are unlimited.