6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
Today, if only you would hear his voice,
8 “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested me;
they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
When kids are younger and they do not obey, parents will sometimes send them to a timeout chair. This is to give them time to think of what they did and to understand the consequence of what they did when they disobeyed their parents. Parents don’t keep their kids in a timeout situation for long. After an appropriate time, they are forgiven and released from their time-out.
God is patient and merciful. The Israelites were a tough bunch of people to work with. This psalm warns us not to harden our hearts as these people did and test God. God was angry with that generation for forty years! That is a long time-out that God gave them. He gave them time to think about their actions and was looking for only a few of these people to break away from the rebellion and follow God’s commandments. God gives us time-out once in a while, but we need to ask ourselves if we are going to change our ways and not harden our hearts as the Israelites did many generations ago.