He Remains Faithful
(9) The sons of Ephraim, armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle. (10) They did not keep the covenant of God and refused to walk according to his law (Torah). (11) They forgot his deeds and the wonders he had shown them. (12) In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders in the land of Egypt, in the plains of Zoan. (13) He divided the sea and caused them to pass through and made the waters stand up like a heap. (14) He guided them with a cloud by day and all night with a fiery light. (15) He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them to drink abundantly as from the ocean depths. (16) He brought streams out of the rocky crag and caused waters to flow down like rivers.
This cheerless segment, detailing the failure of Israel to keep God’s covenant, contains two repetitions: “wonders” (vss. 11 & 12) and “waters” (vss. 13 & 16). It also includes several groups of synonyms: “keep...walk according” (vs. 10), “sea...waters” (vs. 13), and “rocks...rocky crag” as well as “ocean depths,” ”streams,” “waters,” and “rivers” (vss. 15 & 16). In spite of the nation’s unfaithfulness, God’s care and concern was evident at every point along the way of their trek through the wilderness.
I. Israel’s failure to keep God’s covenant (9-11)
II. God’s faithfulness in caring for his covenant nation (12-16)
In spite of God’s deliverance from Egypt and his sustaining them in the wilderness, Israel forgot his mighty works and rebelled against his covenant.
In 2 Timothy Paul quoted a refrain from what may well have been an early Christian hymn: “Here is a trustworthy saying: if we died with him, we will also live with him. If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us. If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Tim. 2:11-13). The statement about his disowning us if we disown him has bothered many believers who think it may indicate our loss of our salvation if we turn away from God. However, even more staggering is the next statement about God’s faithfulness. Is it really true that God will remain faithful to us even if we are unfaithful to him?
The record of Israel’s history certainly backs up this amazing truth. Even though God had miraculously delivered his people from Egypt and had consistently provided for their needs in the wilderness and after they had entered the land of promise, the Israelites almost never remained faithful to God. Time after time, they forgot his word, wandered away from his paths, and turned aside to idols, forsaking the one who had redeemed them from Egypt. Again and again, he showed them his faithfulness and steadfast love in spite of their consistent record of rebellion.
When we consider our own lives, we are forced to admit that, like the Israelites, we continually struggle to remain faithful to God. In spite of our good intentions to obey his Word, we far too frequently wander away and fall into sin, failing to honor the God who saved us and loves us. This psalm reminds us of a great truth on which we can rely in our struggles. Our God who never changes will never fail us nor forsake us. Even when we are faithless, he remains faithful. He will not disown himself nor deny his covenant love for us.
Robert Robinson, a pastor and hymn writer of the Eighteenth Century, is famous for having authored the beloved hymn, Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. In the final stanza he reflects on the struggles we all experience in seeking to be consistent in our walk with God: “O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! / Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. / Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. / Here’s my heart, O take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.” Each of us should make that last line our constant prayer as we strive to remain faithful to the one whose infinite love will never let us go.