Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him 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 command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” (Matthew 4:5-7)
Satan knew that Jesus was the Son of God. He knew that He was under God’s covenant care and protection. He knew that all the promises of God in Psalm 91 were for Him. But his suggestion was a misapplication of God’s word. He tempted Jesus to prove that He is God’s Son through spectacular means outside the Father’s will and ways. He tempted Him to distrust God and to forsake Him.
Israel tested God in the wilderness (Exodus 17:1-7). In doing so, they showed themselves to be unbelieving and rebellious to Him (Psalm 78:17-19, 40-43).
In obedience to God’s word in Deuteronomy 6:16, Jesus refused to test God. Unlike Israel, Jesus showed that He truly and fully trusted in God’s covenant love and faithfulness. Indeed, He is the new and faithful Israel. Indeed, He is God’s “beloved Son, with whom [He is] well pleased” (Matthew 3:17) – the promised Messiah, the King and Savior of Israel and the world (Matthew 1:21).
Believer in Christ, be unwavering in your faith. Jesus is God’s tested and triumphant Son. In Him you have sure and complete salvation.
Secondly, grow in Christlikeness. Trust God fully and wholeheartedly, and refuse to test Him. Refuse to distrust and rebel against your faithful covenant King and Father.
“‘Testing’ God involves putting him on probation, withholding trust pending evidence. For the Israelites it meant doubting whether whether he who had proved sufficient in the past was still sufficient, now that things had taken a different turn. There is also an element of challenge to God, demanding that he prove his worth all over again; if, against all probabilities, he gets us out of this mess, then we will consider believing, but in the meantime we will suspend both faith and obedience. For these reasons ‘testing’ – or in the older translations ‘tempting’ – God is deeply sinful.” – Alec Motyer
“As Son of God, [Jesus] could surely claim with absolute confidence the physical protection which God promises in Psalm 91:11-12 (and throughout that Psalm) to those who trust him. So why not try it by forcing God’s hand…? But this would be to tempt God, as Israel did in the wilderness… The Son of God can live only in a relationship of trust which needs no test.” – Richard T. France