It is with great uplift of spirit that I approach this topic for its magnitude is so far reaching and its intensity so penetrating into the very fiber of mankind’s being that it is difficult to wrap one’s mind around it all.
I have chosen the word “providence” over “benevolence” because it is the stronger of the two, and its definition seems to be exclusively related to God: Providential – of, relating to, or determined by Providence. (Man can be benevolent, but he cannot, on his own, be providential; at that point, it becomes “luck” or a “fortunate” event.)
An Overview of Provisions
It may sound like double-talk, but it is providential that we have a God who is “all-powerful” (omnipotent), “ever-present” (omnipresent), and “all-knowing” (omniscient). At the Jerusalem Conference on the extent of application of the law of Moses on the “new” gospel of grace, as reported in Acts 15, James, the leader of the Jerusalem believers, acknowledged in verse 18, “Known to God from eternity are all His works.”
With that backdrop, we can relate, with gladness, to His declaration in Titus 1:2: “…in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began….” Man was His highest creation, for He created Man in His own image, and gave him authority over the whole earth. He even gave Man the right to make decisions, even though He knew, in His foreknowledge, that man would make the wrong decision and choose to follow the promptings of God’s adversary, the devil, and those of his own flesh.
One who regards God as a distant entity, once having created the universe and its inhabitants, then left it to fare for itself (agnosticism), is one who has not taken the time to read the accounts in the Scriptures. Or, having read them, he chooses to ignore them as well as the evidence on the ground in order to avoid the necessity to submit to one of greater authority. (That is commonly recognized as “the pride of life” that got Satan into trouble in the beginning.)
Providence’s Unique Beginning
We seldom think of how unique is individual man’s very beginning, and there is the running battle, of course, as to just when a person becomes a person. When I read Psalm 139, I have no use for the empty argument that a fetus or embryo does not become a person until sometime later, like when he opens the womb at birth. Pure and absolute nonsense, it is, and manufactured by the enemy of mankind who is bent on ushering as many into hell as he can.
The context of Psalm 139 shows us those three attributes of the eternal God which I listed above, and even though the evidence of His omnipotence is not presented with gigantic mountains or an ever-expanding universe of unbelievable light years beyond visibility, He is powerful enough to create a person at the moment of conception and have a plan for that person’s life ahead. Here is that portion of the passage:
“For You formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, andskillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.
“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You” (Psalm 139:13-18).
Apparently, when God writes us up in His book, He does so with the full expectation that we will eventually, upon reaching decision making age, decide to follow Him into eternal life. He has made that provision available, and “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). But as we know, many will not do so.
Other Evidences of His Providence
God initiated the provision of eternal redemption for Man:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
God keeps an inventory of us:
“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7).
God is not a practical joker:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7-11).
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory;no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).
God does not quit on us, no matter what:
“…Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
“I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread” (Psalm 37:25).
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).
God knows our weaknesses:
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with ourweaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
God makes disappointment His appointment:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
This last one needs some help for understanding. Further in the context, Paul discloses that God’s final purpose for those who are His is that they are “to be conformed to the image of His Son. That takes some chipping away at our mindset that is daily blasted by the works of the flesh which is “not submissive to the law of God, neither can it be” (Romans 8:7). With the umbrella of God’s purpose over us, we hold a better chance to follow, with understanding, then, the directive of 1 Thessalonians 5:18:
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
As others have pointed out, the verse says “in everything,” not “for everything.” If we can believe that the providence of God is a total positive for us as He works out His purpose for us, then we can be thankful in every circumstance. He does say, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
And, He does tell us that “…all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Someone has counted all the promises of God, no doubt, and I don’t pretend to know them all, but every time I run across one, I will know that it is a positive promise from Him, not a negative proclamation.
These promises may seem commonplace in the normal routines of life, sometimes, but in a moment of crisis, they are as sweet as honey from the honeycomb. In those times the Word comes alive and the very presence of the Lord can never be forgotten. I recall the testimony of a Navy veteran of submarine duty in the Pacific war zones in World War II. He spoke of a time when the enemy was searching out his submarine’s location with depth charges from above. They had dropped to the bottom, shut off all audible activities, and prayed—at least he did! It was then that this portion of Psalm 139 came to him in vivid reality:
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, Youare there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:7-10).
Matter-of-fact, after writing on the truths of this Psalm, I suggest that meditation on it will greatly lift your spirit and ready you for the daily battle! It comes down to this: God wants you! He wants to bless you and show His glory in you, as He promises in Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
This is a true statement: Without Him there is no hope!