The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.

Proverbs 21:1

Here is a picture of the doctrine of providence.

When men and women go about their business, God’s hand is always involved. Question 2 of the New City Catechism includes a helpful summary of this doctrine: “Nothing happens except through him and by his will.” The Bible is clear in its teaching that God is sovereign over every detail of every part of the universe. In creation, God exercised His divine energy to bring the world into being. In His perfect providence, He continues to exercise His divine energy to sustain the universe and bring all things to their appointed end—uniting all things in heaven and earth under Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10).

There is some mystery in how God directs the course of events without violating the nature of what or who is involved. Charles Bridges provides helpful insight on the way this unfolds: “In inert matter he acts by physical force; in brute animals, by instinct and appetite; in intelligent beings, by motives suited to their faculties; in his redeemed people, by the influence of grace.”[1] In God’s economy and purposes, the causality of natural events, circumstances, and free decisions is used by Him in order to achieve His glorious ends. Throughout Scripture this pattern is repeated, whether it’s through Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh, Herod, Pilate, or other figures. Though earthly rulers set themselves against the Lord as they exercised their rebellious wills, they were at the same time part of God’s foreordained plan of salvation (Psalm 2:1-2; Acts 4:25-26). He turns all plans, even the desires of the heart of the most powerful men and women, “wherever he will.”

For those of us who belong to Jesus, God’s providence brings security. When we become disheartened because it is obvious that the wicked flourish and that bad is called good, the Bible reminds us that God is sovereign over all affairs. These things neither surprise nor defeat Him; indeed, He has made use of the wicked often, sometimes to protect and shield His people and at other times to purify and refine them. After the event, we may sometimes discern His purpose; during the event, we are simply to trust His providence.

God is the heavenly Father who seeks to draw you to Himself and make you His own. It is likely that even now you are thinking of circumstances that seem contrary to God’s will and that confuse you. Remember His sovereignty, rehearse His purpose, and sing:

I trust in God, I know He cares for me,
On mountain bleak or on the stormy sea;
Though billows roll, He keeps my soul,
My heav’nly Father watches over me.[2]

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Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.