“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision” (vv. 2–4).
Divine providence is the outworking of the reality that God is our Creator and Sustainer. Biblical religion is not deism, which says the Lord got everything off to a start and then stood back to watch how it would all fall out. Instead, even after He rested from His work of initial creation, God has continued to act in His creation to preserve it and to direct it to His ends (Gen. 1:1–2:3; Eph. 1:11). The Lord God Almighty—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—”upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3). God’s sustaining work means that the universe has no independent existence but continues to exist only because He has willed it to do so. Were the Lord to cease existing—an impossibility if there ever were one—the universe would cease to exist as well. The reverse, however, is not true. If the universe were to cease existing, God lives on. He alone is selfexistent. We are not self-existent but rely on Him at every point to hold the world together and give us breath. Consequently, every moment we live is a gift of His sustaining grace. The doctrine of divine providence reminds us that the Lord also governs all of creation. His ruling and directing of the created order is what we generally have in view when we speak of divine providence, and this governance includes two key elements. First, divine governance is permanent. God was not merely king yesterday; He is king today and king forever. We have considered both the Assyrian Empire and the Babylonian Empire thus far in our study of the Old Testament prophets. Before the year is out, we will also have the opportunity to consider the Persian Empire as well as the rise of Greco-Roman civilization. Though these various empires represent vastly different cultures, they hold one thing in common—all of them came to an end. The kingdoms of men rise and fall, and all leaders come and go no matter how powerful they happen to be. Yet with the psalmist, we can sing “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Ps. 45:6a). Today’s passage makes the point by laughing at anyone who would dare to believe he could overthrow the Lord (2:2–4). Second, God is sovereign in His governing providence. The Lord is not our cosmic “servant” who exists merely to fulfill our demands but He sits over us in authority, issuing commands and demanding that we obey. We cannot turn down God’s decrees with impunity, but we will be condemned if we impenitently refuse to obey Him. Even salvation is no mere invitation—we are commanded to repent and believe (Acts 17:30–31).
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
Our individualistic culture can make it hard for us to remember that we are accountable to more than just ourselves. Ultimately, however, we have a duty to obey the commands of our Creator. We are His creatures and must submit to His will no matter how hard it seems. Doing so requires the daily resolve to obey Him even when it is most difficult to do so. It also requires daily repentance of our failing to keep His commandments. Let us seek this day to obey our holy Creator.