“But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath; for He remembered that they were but flesh, a breath that passes away and does not come again. How often they provoked Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert! Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel (Psalm 78:38-41)”.
Is there anything God cannot do? Many of us have great faith in God’s power to accomplish anything He wants to do. He created the universe from nothing. He raised the dead from the grave. He makes kings rise and fall. With such great power are there some things which He is unable to accomplish? Can we affect God’s power to perform great things?
Psalm 78 recalls God’s relationship with the nation of Israel. God had given His people a law to follow, “that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments” (Psalm 78:8). The Lord had performed great and awesome miracles on their behalf to deliver them from Egyptian bondage (Psalm 78:12-16). However, shortly after leaving Egypt, Israel began to complain and rebel against God. Although He had blessed them immeasurably by delivering them from slavery, they began to question God’s ability to provide for them in the wilderness (Psalm 78:17-20). It angered God that His people would not believe in Him and trust Him, but He went ahead and showered manna from heaven to feed them (Psalm 78:21-25). However, after the Israelites continued to provoke God to anger by asking for meat, God’s wrath was kindled as He slew many of them (Psalm 78:26-31). Because of their unbelief in God, instead of the Israelites enjoying the blessings of the Promised Land rejoicing in God, “…their days He consumed in futility, and their years in fear” as they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness (Psalm 78:33). By their unfaithfulness to God, they had limited His ability to bless them!
According to Psalm 78, there are some things which God cannot do. In fact, each one of us by our actions can “limit” God’s ability to bless our lives. This is what happened with the Israelites in their relationship with God. God wanted to bless them, but by their actions they limited God’s ability to bless them: “Yes, again and again they tempted God, and LIMITED (emp. Mine) the Holy One of Israel” (Psalm 78:41). How could this be? God is a God full of grace, mercy, and love; but, He is also a God of justice. Although He loved His people and wanted to shower great blessings upon them, He could not be just in doing so when they were acting in rebellion against Him by their sin. During such times, instead of showering blessings upon them, He had to chasten them to correct their bad behavior. After God took time away from blessing His people and having to invest that time into chastening His people, Israel would turn back to God: “When He slew them, then they sought Him; and they returned and sought earnestly for God. Then they remembered that God was their rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer” (Psalm 78:34-35).
As I think about how Israel put up boundaries on how God could bless them because of their unfaithfulness, I do not want to limit God’s blessing in my life. I don’t want God to have to spend time chastening me for my sinful behavior instead of spending that time blessing me as I walk with Him. Today, I will strive not to limit God by being faithful to Him!
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this," says the Lord of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).