Psalm 78:32 (ESV) … “In spite of all this, they still sinned; despite his wonders, they did not believe.”
This long “historical psalm” is essentially a retelling of Israel’s record of disobedience and unbelief in the face of all that God had done for His people.
Sadly, judgments moved them no more than mercies. They defied the wrath of God. Though death was in the cup of their iniquity, yet they would not put it away, but continued to drink it as if it were a healthful potion.
How truly might these words be applied to ungodly men who have been often afflicted, laid upon a sick bed, broken in spirit, and impoverished in estate, and yet have persevered in their evil ways, unmoved by terrors, unswayed by threatenings. “And believed not for his wondrous works.” Their unbelief was chronic and incurable.
Miracles both of mercy and judgment were unavailing. They might be made to wonder, but they could not be taught to believe. Continuance in sin and in unbelief go together. Had they believed they would not have sinned; had they not been blinded by sin they would have believed. There is a reflex action between faith and character. How can the lover of sin believe? How, on the other hand, can the unbeliever cease from sin? God’s ways with us in providence are in themselves both convincing and converting, but unrenewed nature refuses to be either convinced or converted by them.
Reading to the end of this lengthy parable, may we in our life-parable have less of sin, and as much of grace as are displayed in Israel’s history, and may we close it under the safe guidance of “that great Shepherd of the sheep.”