The Sin of Limiting God
Psalm 78:41
Yes, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

I. THE BEING AGAINST WHOM THE SIN IS COMMITTED. It is no one less than God Himself. He is here called "the Holy One." God is essentially holy. He is holy in His law — as poor thoughtless sinners, that trifle with His law and disregarding all the claims of conscience, shall find either in this world or the next. He is still more manifestly holy in the Gospel; in which every doctrine, every promise, every precept, is but one glorious manifestation of His holiness. Now, that there should be even in the true Israel a proneness to "limit the Holy One" — that when they come into some new trial, into some new emergency, into some untried state — when they come to that stage in their journey that they have never travelled before, then there should be a proneness to "limit the Holy One" — oh! it marketh out that which should cause you and me to lay our mouths in the lowest dust.

II. THE SIN (vers. 19, 20).

1. To limit God is to limit His power; and He is omnipotent. There is nothing difficult with God; alike easy were it, to utter a promise or create a world. To limit the Omnipotent is another word for denying Him to be God.

2. To limit Jehovah is to limit His wisdom; and He is omniscient. He knows every thought, every desire, every misgiving, every infirmity, every sinking of heart; He knows it all. But this is to deny Him, as such.

3. We limit Him when we have misgivings as to His faithfulness. He has given a promise; and how seldom can you and I say, "I believe it simply because God says it; I do not take it now on the testimony of saints, I take it simply because God says it; God declares it, and I believe it!" But when we do not so, how is there a secret limiting of the faithfulness that is truth! — for "He cannot deny Himself"; He not only does not, but He cannot.

4. We limit Him when we mark out a line for His sovereignty, whereas "He gives no account of any of His matters."

5. And if we are brought into the region of a dark Providence, when everything seems against us, when our most favourite desires seem to be blasted, when we are touched the most sensibly where we the least desired it — because the Lord seems to thwart one, one seems to limit His goodness. As if there could be an unkind thought in God; as if there could be any want of willingness in God to bless His child; as if He could withhold any good thing.

III. The CAUSE. "They remembered not His hand." The immediate cause of their "limiting the Holy One of Israel" was, no doubt, their unbelief; but this their unbelief seemed to have a cause, and that cause was their forgetfulness of God's mercies. "They remembered not His hand" — the outstretched hand. What! when the poor soul first felt its weight and burden of sin — when the secrets within were developed — when the man began to see himself a sinner — and when there was the outstretched hand, and "Come unto me," and "Him that cometh I will in no wise cast out!" — the hand that still sustains I that tender hand, that gentle hand, that strong hand, that broad hand, enough to cover us amidst the storm and the tempest. Oh! it is no small sin "not to remember the hand of our God." We thereby "grieve the Spirit"; we thereby strengthen unbelief; we thereby weaken faith; we thereby displease our Heavenly Father.

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

WEB: They turned again and tempted God, and provoked the Holy One of Israel.

Limiting the Holy One of Israel
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