Psalms 78:38,39 - 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.
Psalms 78 is a record of Israel's unbelief, pride, and rebellion in the face of God's deliverance, provision, and faithfulness. Their sins were aggravated because their mercies were multiplied.
A sampling of their sins:
"They kept not the covenant of God"
They "forgat his works"
"They spake against God"
"They believed not in God"
"They flattered him with their mouth"
"The lied unto him with their tongues"
"Their heart was not right with him"
"They turned back and tempted God"
"They limited the Holy One of Israel"
"The not . . . they day when he delivered them"
"They kept not his testimonies"
An accounting of their mercies:
"He divided the sea and caused them to pass through"
"In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire"
"He brought streams also out of the rock"
He "rained down manna upon them to eat"
"He guided them in the wilderness like a flock"
"He led them on safely"
"He cast out the heathen before them"
"He made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents"
It is these sobering realities that magnify his forgiveness toward the nation of Israel. It is not that he did not chastise them for he surely did at times, but he did not destroy him. In wrath he remembered mercy.
We are told that the LORD was:
"Full of compassion"
"Forgave their iniquity"
"Destroyed them not"
"Many a time turned he his anger away"
He "did not stir up all his wrath"
Why? What was it that called forth his compassion, promoted his forgiveness, kept him from destroying them, enabled him to turn his anger away many times, and kept him from stirring up all his wrath?
Verse 39 provides the answer. It is because of what he remembered!
He remembered that they were but flesh. He remembered that they were but a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. In a word he remembered their natural infirmity.
It would be good for us to remember about each other what God remembers about us. That we are but flesh. If God remembers that in the face of our unfaithfulness to him, surely we can remember that in relation to others transgressions against us. We have a constant reminder of it in our own being!
If we would remember the right things we would find ourselves more able and ready to be full of compassion, forgive iniquity, refrain from destroying, turn away our anger many times, and not stir up all our wrath.
May God help us to be God-like in this respect!