“Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way wherein they should go” (Nehemiah 9:19).
Numbers 14 recounts the story of the fear and disobedience of the children of Israel and their refusal to enter the Promised Land. God’s pronouncement was devastating: “Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein. . . . as for you, your carcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness” (Numbers 14:30,32). The people, not wanting to accept such a judgment, decided they would then enter the land regardless of God’s decree and Moses’ warning: “Go not up, for the LORD is not among you” (Numbers 14:40–45). Their defeat was swift and there was no choice but to turn toward the wilderness. Yet even in their disobedience, and though they had come under God’s chastening, they were not sent out to wander alone; God led them every step, day and night, as our text verse teaches.
When a Christian capitulates to temptation, he finds himself following the wrong leader-himself: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14). The worst thing he can do is to heed not the consequences of his own actions. It is much better to trust the leading of the Lord than to go it alone, trying to alleviate the consequences.
In the final analysis, God’s commitment to us as His children rests not on our sinful wanderings, but on His character. Our text verse teaches us that it is the manifold-abundant, multiplied, timely, increased, great-mercies of the Lord that cause Him to continue leading. He leadeth me, O blessed thought! CJH