Providential Grace

Remembrance and its opposite - Ninth in a series

We considered the concept of God's providence and his watch over our lives in the last post. The Lord gives us our daily bread, shelter, our friends, church, and so much else. He is with us. As we recall his loving care moment to moment and in our crises, we remember, too, our miserable behaviors. If we aren't careful we will end up crying over spilt milk rather than praising the Lord for his faithfulness to us.

Yet for those who have walked with God for a time, we will observe that God has established us in the Faith in spite of ourselves. How did this come about? This deserves a careful answer.

Wise men nearly four centuries ago met together, prayed and wrote a "confession" that many churches still look to as a statement of faith. As noted in the previous post, this is where we find the concept of God's works of providence as a way of explaining the Lord's control over all things.

The divines who wrote the Westminster Confession based their insights upon Scripture proofs, and looked to Christians of previous generations who had studied, discussed and continually read the Bible for enlightenment and help.

A succinct paragraph that sums up their understanding of how man is saved follows:

Salvation is accomplished by the almighty power of the triune God. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ's death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the Gospel. The entire process —election, redemption, regeneration— is the work of God and is by grace alone.

Therefore, the greatest work that we remember and thank God for is our salvation. We do not thank ourselves for that, but him. By grace we are saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any of us should boast. (Eph 2:8-9)

When we sing, “I have decided to follow Jesus,” we know our decision was divinely enabled and ordained; nevertheless actively deciding and making a firm commitment is required and must be carefully maintained over many trials and tests that are supplied to strengthen us.

It is the one who perseveres to the end who will be saved. If you persevere, then you are chosen.

We are to help each other to exercise our free will to serve Christ. The overcomer will live eternally (Rev 2:7, 11), receive rewards from Christ (Rev 2:17), reign with him (Rev 2:26); his name will be confessed to God by Christ (Rev 3:5), and much more (Rev 3:12, 21).

Loving the outsider

Second in the Solomon Series

Solomon was conceived as a way of consoling his mother after the miscarriage of his older brother. (2 Sam 12:24) The Lord had caused the miscarriage to mark King David's sin with Bathsheba. (2 Sam 12:15)

Bathsheba was the first wife of King David during his reign in Zion. Her four sons are first in the list of sons born to King David in Jerusalem. (1 Chr 3:5; 2 Sam 5:14)

Regarding David's sin with Bathsheba, from the outset he knew she was the wife of Uriah the Hittite and the daughter of Eliam who was the son of Ahithophel, a counselor of David. (2 Sam 11:3)

Uriah was a Canaanite by birth, a descendant of Heth, a son of Canaan, but he had sworn allegiance to King David and was one of the King's Mighty Men. He is in both listings of the Mighty Men. (1 Chr 11; 2 Sam 23)

How could David betray one of his Mighty Men? These were the faithful, zealous leaders who not only warred for him and protected his kingdom, but wanted to emulate him.

When David wanted Uriah to leave the battlefield to spend time with his wife, as a way of attributing Bathsheba's pregnancy to Uriah though David was the father, Uriah refused. His reasons were:
The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? [as] thou livest, and [as] thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing. - 2 Sam 11:11

It seems that Uriah was a true Jew and an honorable man.

Were there other Canaanites among the mighty men, or was Uriah the only "black sheep"? A study of the 2 Samuel list reveals that the men were Israelites to the extent that their identities were tied to tribes and places within Israel, except for Zelek, the Ammonite (Ammon was outside Israel's border). In the 1 Chronicles list, there are some places of unknown origin and a Moabite is mentioned, but no other Canaanites, to the best of my research. (Moab and Ammon were cousins, not Canaanites. Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, which is northeast of Damascus, is considered an Israelite in Easton's Bible Dictionary.)

Did David harbor an innate prejudice against Canaanites of any stripe, even when they turned to his God? Did he not love the outsider who had become his true brother?

And why did Joab, the commander of the Mighty Men, agree to have Uriah killed by putting him on the front line in battle, as David asked him? Joab was David's nephew, yet he had a mind of his own--and that fact could fuel a lengthy Bible study-- so it's likely he later regretted his acquiescence.

The sins piled up:

  1. Lust of the eyes - David saw Bathsheba and wanted her. (2 Sam 11:2)
  2. Lust of the flesh - He was so set on having her that he did not care that she was the wife of one of his Mighty Men. (2 Sam 11:3)
  3. Sins of omission - David did not love Uriah, his loyal friend.
  4. Adultery - (2 Sam 11:4)
  5. Cowardice - David did not claim his child when he found Bathsheba was pregnant. (2 Sam 11:5)
  6. Hypocrisy, lying - David pretended to desire Uriah's good when he really only wanted to cover over his own sin. (2 Sam 11:6..)
  7. Treachery - David betrayed Uriah by having him put on the front line to assure his death. (2 Sam 11:15)
  8. Abusing Joab - Involving Joab, a family member and leader who looked to him as an example, in a murderous plot; then excusing his role in the murder as though that were his privilege. (2 Sam 11:25)
  9. Murder
  10. Lack of repentance - Initially, David only took Bathsheba as a wife, but he did not confess his sin. (2 Sam 11:27)

Thus, the birth of Solomon was preceded by disastrous sin and gloom, but his arrival signaled the beginning of a new era. The King was not put to death for his sins! (2 Sam 12:13) Grace and mercy had entered to save David, foreshadowing the work of Christ. It was now 1000 BC, a thousand years before the birth of Jesus.

Attention Readers

Have you visited the Biotech Blog on this website? Find information and resources to help you think about biotech as a Christian.

During the summer of 2017, I explored the topic of kidney donation. Is it right for a society to permit that? To encourage it? What do you think? Read the Live Kidney Donation Series!

Should you sign your driver’s license to be an organ donor? Is cremation OK with God? Do these practices undermine the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection?

Learn more. The conscience cannot function without facts.


Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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