Though God’s people have often provoked the LORD, He has not dealt with them according to their sins. Psalm 78:38-39 tell us, “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. For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.”
If the LORD were to chide us on every occasion when we sin, we would have been totally devastated. How consoling it is that the LORD will not always chide, though we often offend Him and deserve His chiding! The LORD is unlike those who take every occasion to chide, and never know when to stop! What would become of us if God had dealt angrily with us at every occasion of our sin?
Our text also says, “neither will he keep his anger for ever.” In the preceding verse, the psalmist testified that “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy” (v. 8). Because He is merciful and gracious, He is also “slow to anger.” His patience toward us is very great. The LORD knows how feeble we are, and shows His pity on us by withholding His anger from us. In Isaiah 57:16, the Lord proclaimed, “For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.” The LORD does not chide us for every fault; neither does He chide us for a long time nor hold any grudge against us. If He had always chided, our spirits would have failed altogether. That would have crushed our spirits!
Such longsuffering and compassion should not be taken for granted. We must quickly put off our sins and turn to Him in repentance and gratefulness. Nothing is more foolish than trying to exploit God’s grace and patience by continuing in sin.
Also, having received plenteous mercy and patience from God, every child of God must now show the same kind of longsuffering to others. Too much chiding might lead others to be disoriented and disillusioned. Some parents, by their constant rebuke and bitter dealing with children, drive them away. So let us be slow to anger toward those who have erred. Let us pay heed to Galatians 6:1a, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness.”