Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give His angels charge concerning You’; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, lest You strike Your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” Matthew 4:5-7 (NAS)
Matthew records, as does Luke in his inspired parallel account, the only time Satan, God’s adversary, goes toe-to-toe with Jesus, God’s advocate, in an exchange of Scripture.
That lets us know that the Devil has knowledge of the inspired word of God and is able to bandy it about (out of context, notably) when it suits his twisted prerogatives. The Deceiver of Old was quoting from Psalm 91, verses 11 & 12 in his second crack at trying to tempt the Lord. “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered with memorized Scripture from Deuteronomy 6:16 spoke by Moses. The complete quote is as follows:”You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah.” (NAS) Jesus was not pitting Scripture against Scripture in his tête-à-tête with the Tempter, but was revealing a principle given the second generation “sons of God” who had wandered in the wilderness that were now being readied to take the coveted physical promised land. That principle had to do with the testing at Massah as recorded in Exodus 17:1-7 when the people quarreled with Moses and told him to give them water to drink. Moses petitioned the LORD saying the people were ready to stone him if he didn’t produce the water, so the LORD told Moses to take his staff and rap the rock. Out came water for the people to drink. Where this happened, Moses “named the place Massah (means “test”) and Meribah (means “quarrel”) because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, saying, ‘Is the LORD among us, or not?’ ” (Ex. 17:7) The people had no right or reason to doubt that God was among them. He had delivered them from the Egyptian army, made bitter water sweet (Ex. 14 & 15), when they grumbled about not having any bread or meat to eat, He provided daily bread, manna, to “test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction” (Ex. 16:4), then provided a “little” quail for good measure. A few chapters forward in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses also reminded the second generation that God had led them through the wilderness, tested them and humbled them, providing food they didn’t know of for the purpose “that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” (Deut. 8:3) Hmmm…that sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it? By the time of the Massah and Meribah incident, the LORD had more than adequately proven He could be trusted to protect and provide when needed by the words Moses relayed to the people from God. Now if the Almighty expected “man” to live by His words, certainly the “Son of man” would do the same when tested. Satan, as mentioned earlier, had lifted a section of a text from its context with a pretext. Essentially, what Satan was saying to Jesus when he quoted the psalmist out of context trying to tempt Him was, “Prove the LORD’s with you!” Jesus didn’t need to because He knew what the inspired psalmist had written prior to the verses Satan tried to “use” on Him. “I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!’ For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence.” (Ps. 91:2-3) And those that followed: “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him, and let him behold My salvation.” (Ps. 91:14-16) Jesus chose to live and withstand the temptation by the words from the mouth of the LORD. Remember, when tempted, He “will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13b) But that doesn’t mean we put ourselves deliberately in harm’s way to see if the Lord will deliver us. Amen?