9 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years.
9 Where your fathers tested Me,
This verse uses two different Greek words for trial: “tested” and “tried.” The word “tested” in this phrase means to put to the test to determine the quality of something, whether it has imperfections or some quality. It means to put to the test to determine what good or evil may come from a person.
The Israelites tested God by rejecting His will in the wilderness by unbelief (Ex 17:1-7; Nu 11:1-6; 20:2-13; Dt 9:22; Ps 78:18-20).
tried [proved] Me,
The second word, “tried,” means to put to the test in order to approve whether someone meets a test. One specific area where Israel tried to prove God was at Rephidim. They reached a point where they did not have enough water to drink. Instead of trusting God to provide, they demanded water from Him and put Him to the test to see if He would provide (Ex 17:7). Yet God had provided for them in many ways. They neglected that thought for a momentary problem.
Why did not all God’s previous provisions for them initiate more trust in Him? In the face of overwhelming intervention by God for them, they still did not trust Him. In the same way the first-century readers experienced persecution for their faith in Christ, but they crassly blamed God for what they were going through.
And saw My works forty years.
God’s works were His acts of delivering His people during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. God provided for them with manna, quail, and water during those years. Israel saw God working over a 40-year period, so there was no excuse for their unbelief. They had no justification for not believing that God would provide because of the overwhelming evidence before them. They saw clear indications of God’s providence and power over a protracted period. Israel was truly obdurate.
Trials along the way reveal the state of our hearts.
To be “tried” is an explanation of “tested.” Israel put God on trial to prove whether He was what He claimed to be or could do and what He said He would do. God had proved Himself over and over, yet Israel did not believe what they saw. Christians do this today. We do it to our peril.
Trials always test our souls. They reveal the state of our condition before God. If we live in a period of smooth sailing, we may not recognize the true condition of our hearts. When the storm comes upon us, it will show how much we depend on God. Adverse circumstances do not change us; they show were we are spiritually. They expose us for what we are.