15 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Provoking God

Many times did he deliver them; but they provoked him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity. Psalm 106:43

suggested further reading: Numbers 14

The wickedness and perversity of people becomes more evident when even God’s severe chastisements fail to produce reformation. The prophet deduces that the detestable hardness of people’s hearts continues. They are not bent to obedience despite all the benefits they have received from God. Indeed, in the time of their afflictions, they groan under the burden of those afflictions, but when God mitigates their punishment and grants them wonderful deliverance, how can their subsequent backsliding then be excused?

Bear in mind that we have a picture here as in a mirror of the nature of all mankind. If God uses the same means that he used for the Israelites to reclaim the majority of the sons of men, how is it that comparatively few do not continue in the very same state as they were? He may humble us with the severity of his rod or melt us with his kindness, but the effect is only temporary, because, though he visits us with correction upon correction or heaps kindness upon kindness upon us, we very soon relapse into our wonted vicious practices.

The Jews did not cease from backsliding, but, as the psalmist says, provoked him with their counsel. They then received a just recompense of reward in being oppressed by their iniquity. Moreover, though these backsliders deserved their afflictions, yet God still heard their groanings. In his unwearied kindness, God did not cease to strive with them even in their perverseness of spirit.

for meditation: This passage is a clear demonstration of our need for the miracle of regeneration. Unless a person is changed from the inside out, all the chastisements or all the blessings in the world will not turn him to God. What impact do God’s chastisements have on you?[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 93). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

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