Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant. But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.
We may condemn the Israelites for their continued unbelief and disobedience after all that they had witnessed firsthand of God working on their behalf, providing for them, leading them through the wilderness while protecting them from their enemies and giving victory after victory. But how many times do we do the same thing in our lives? Are we willing to admit that we’ve lied to God if we have? Has there ever been a time where we made a half-hearted commitment, made a promise to God with no real intention to follow through? Have we disobeyed Him in a willful way, knowing we were choosing the wrong path? Do we desire to obey His entire Word, or are there still things we refuse to submit to Him?
If we’re honest, we can all admit that we’ve failed God in some way. We’ve all come up short of His laws and perhaps even turned away from Him at times. But it’s not about who we are and what we’ve done as much as it is who God is and what He will do. He is full of compassion, and it is a store that never dwindles or depletes. As much compassion as He had for the wandering children of Israel is available to us today. His desire to work on behalf of His own is just as strong today. His willingness to intercede for those He has chosen is just as powerful as it was when He pried Israel from Pharaoh’s grip.
Perhaps we don’t even realize how many times He has turned His anger away from us and spared us His wrath and judgment. Some of us may have taken a long and winding road to God, and yet He allowed us chance after chance to come to Him and receive His mercy and forgiveness. Perhaps we were once strong in our faith and have drifted, but God’s love for us and His pursuit of us endures through those times. It is His compassion, His mercy, His love, and His work that saves us, sustains us, and restores us every time. Many times He showers us with love and blessings when our behavior only warranted His complete and terrible wrath.
Much of this psalm is a reminder to the people of how God had worked among them despite their moments of unfaithfulness to Him. Let’s not take advantage of the compassion and love of our God, but allow past mistakes and mercies to encourage us to seek Him and His righteousness more and more. Let’s allow the realities of His true nature to sink deeply into our hearts and minds so that we remain faithful to Him, thankful for His mercy toward us, keeping our hearts right with Him.