“God is Incredible... (Psalm 78:38-39)”
The 78th Psalm is a lengthy entry into an otherwise group of generally short, to the point songs written by godly men many years ago. Furthermore, the 78th Psalm serves as a micro-history of some of the more familiar, notable aspects of Israel's history and reminds the reader of the sinful, rebellious, selfish behaviors that were all too common with the characters of the Old Testament and, for that matter, characters of all time. Near the middle of the psalm that, in some ways is discouraging (it tells us about how disappointing we can be to God) comes two verses that prove how incredible God is.
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.
-- Psalm 78:38-39
Isn't that incredible?! God wants us to see Him as He is and that means not only seeing His frustration, but also His incredible, indescribable grace. Note the three things said about God in the early part of the text -- His compassion, His forgiving attitude, and His choice to not destroy His people. The author goes on to say that this was not a "one-time" event but rather one of "many" occasions wherein God did not allow His anger to burn so hot so as to utterly destroy those who rebelled against Him. We need to appreciate that that's not just good news for the men and women of old, but that's great news for men and women today!
It's true that God has high expectations for us. And we should have high expectations of ourselves. Yet, the inspired writer of this psalm shares a thought that is both simple and refreshing. That is, we are, "but flesh." God knows that we're not perfect and He has shown time and time again that He is patient, longsuffering, forgiving, and understanding. Without any doubt, He treats us far better than we often treat our fellow man and praise Him for that!
Armed with this understanding, let us resolve to do two things. First, let us be ever mindful of the incredible nature of our God. Let us be thoughtful and prayerful, thanking our Father for His repeated forgiveness and His truly amazing grace. We don't deserve to be treated any better than the men and women of the Old Testament who deserved what they didn't get. And so, we thank our God. Second, let us be encouraged by these truths to do all we can to share God with a lost and dying world. Many people either don't know God or have been misinformed about God. It is up to us as to whether or not we'll do all that we can to share with others how truly incredible our God is.