I stole today’s title from Bob Shelly. Only those of you who are in the era of 15-20 years at Tri-State Fellowship will remember our friend Bob, who served the church well as an interim pastor. He lives in York, PA and has been involved in discipleship ministries and teaching at Lancaster Bible College. He used the “Providence” title in a sermon he did at TSF sometime shortly before I came here 20 years ago, and I’ve always remembered it.
The famous Bible teacher of a few decades past – J. Vernon McGee – gave this definition of “God’s Providence.”
Providence is the means by which God directs all things — both animate and inanimate, seen and unseen, good and evil — toward a worthy purpose, which means His will must finally prevail. Or as the psalmist said, “his kingdom ruleth over all” (Psalm 103:19). In Ephesians 1:11 Paul tells us that God “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” Our God is running the universe today, friends, even though there are some who think that it has slipped out from under Him.
There are Christian people who chafe under this sort of view of God’s providence, as it seems to them to make the world too mechanical or too predetermined. I am convinced that, at the end of the day, those who are annoyed by this are really irritated with the notion that they are not the God of their own lives.
I understand that those who resist a high view of God’s sovereign control into all the details of life do so because it smacks of irresponsibility … of a sort of “why bother working hard if it doesn’t matter, because God is going to do whatever He wants to anyhow.” But the whole of Scripture teaches much on the value to responsibility, yet also of the bottom line nature of God’s authority over everything.
Arriving at a high view of God’s sovereign hand in all affairs of life, down to the smallest of things, is one of the great and calming moments of my life. I would put it together this way: I will be as fully responsible as humanly possible with everything that I am able to do in a given situation, and then I will seek to no longer worry about, giving it over to God for a final resolution that is for His glory, and my good.
The 127th Psalm speaks of God’s providential involvement in all things. It is He that will bless and prosper any endeavor … like building a house. The second verse has the idea that it is vain to work in human effort apart from God’s strength and blessing.
The second section of the Psalm goes on to talk about the blessing of families. Children are indeed a gift from the Lord.
This was especially true in an ancient culture where large families provided extra hands for the tasks of life, including security in dangerous times. There is a picture also of a man going to the gates of the city – the place where business transactions were done publically. And it pictures a guy standing there with a posse of big ole boys who are his sons! I like that picture!
As I have written these devotionals, you’ll not be surprised that I will often (though not always) reference a couple of nearby commentaries to see what some previous writer has said about a particular Psalm. Many commentaries are pretty geeky and go into extensive remarks on variant Hebrew constructions with alternate meanings, etc. So it cracked me up and I did laugh out loud when a classic commentary on Psalms by Derek Kidner – an Anglican scholar at Cambridge University – wrote:
“And it is not untypical of God’s gifts that first they are liabilities, or at least responsibilities, before they become obvious assets. The greater their promise, the more likely that these sons will be a handful before they are a quiverful.”
As a father of five boys, I can say “Amen” to that.
A song of ascents. Of Solomon.
1 Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.
3 Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.