The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.
We were all born loving our own sovereignty. But, one of the ways we come to love it – other than salvation and a deepening in the Word of God – is through crisis. And when we see it and understand it, O we certainly embrace it and want to build an impenetrable wall around it don’t we? Let me illustrate. Ann Judson, the wife of the missionary Judson, knew great pain (losing two children to tragic deaths in Burma and India). She wrote this in her diary after the loss of their 2nd child to drowning,
“Our hearts were bound up with this child; we felt he was our earthly all, our only source of earthly recreation in this heathen land. But God saw it was necessary to remind us of our error, and to strip us of our only little ail. O, may it not be in vain that he has done it. May we so improve it that he will stay his hand and say, ‘It is enough.’”
God wants more mothers like that who love His sovereignty and celebrate it when things are especially hard. And yet, there are more haters of God’s sovereignty than there are lovers of it, aren’t there?
You might not know this, but not everyone likes the fact that God is sovereign. In fact, if we are honest, every sin is a denial that there is a sovereign. Every time you choose sin, you are choosing yourself as sovereign and not God. So don’t fall into the temptation to see these enemies of God’s sovereignty and think, “Man I’m glad I am not like them.” Instead, have the honest reaction, “Is it I Lord?”
In Psalm 138, the psalmist mentioned three enemies of God’s sovereignty.
1. Idols – “I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name (which encompasses everything) for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased” (Ps 138:1-3).
He doesn’t want any idols to receive any preference over God. He doesn’t want to acknowledge their sovereignty over God’s. No idols have their place for the psalmist’s worship. The psalmist wants no idols in his heart to compete for God’s sovereignty.
David is putting His confidence in God and His Word. He knows that if He is not careful to consume His soul with God and His Word, his thoughts and meditations and behavior will find themselves following after idols.
So the psalmist realizes that one of the enemies of God’s sovereignty is idols. This should be self-explanatory: anything that demands Lordship and rule in one’s life is an idol. And any idol looks to dethrone God and His sovereignty. Our hearts can be so deceptive in tempting us with things God intended to be graces and transforming them into idols. Idols are enemies of God’s sovereignty, because idols demand acknowledgement of their own sovereignty. But they are not the only enemy of God’s sovereignty discussed here.
2. Pride – “All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth, and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD. For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar” (Psalm 138:4-6)
God is not a supporter of a prideful man. He is not sympathetic to one who steals His sovereignty in any way. Isaiah writes, “1 Thus says the LORD: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? 2 For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist, ‘says the LORD. But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isa 66:1-2). He exalts the lowly (Luke 1:52). He gives grace to the humble and fights against the prideful (Jas 4:6; I Pet 5:5). Pride is not just a competitor to God’s sovereignty; it is an outright enemy of God’s sovereignty.
If you want to deny that God rules and reigns, then put yourself on that throne you did not build. Climb up to rule your own life and deny God’s rightful rule.
3. Unbelievers – “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me” (Ps 138:7)
This probably sounds a lot like another psalm of David – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps 23:4). He doesn’t say, “I walk around it” or “I walk beside it,” but he walks through it. And David isn’t referring here to actual death, because he says “the shadow of death.” He is referring to any perilous and dreadful time. This is any time that is gloomy, dangerous, and possibly lonely.
David is referring to the same thing in Psalm 138. He “though I walk in the midst of trouble” and “against the wrath of my enemies.” God is with His people even in the midst of their trials. God’s “right hand” will deliver. It’s as if God reached down from heaven to save him (Ps 18).
This final group of enemies against God’s sovereignty is a generic group but it is a reminder that competitors for God’s sovereignty are everywhere. You won’t and can’t get away from them. Idols are not just physical statues but can easily encompass your heart; pride isn’t going anywhere until you reach heaven; and unbelievers populate millions of square miles of this planet. Enemies of God’s sovereignty are everywhere.
Conclusion – “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands” (Ps 138:8).
God will finish what He begun. Despite every valley or enemy or idol or prideful thought, God’s sovereign plan for each of His children will not be thwarted. He will “fulfill his purpose” regardless of any of them. He’s not done; sovereignty cannot be stopped.
So keep working. Don’t despair; don’t give up; keep on serving; be faithful. God is sovereign and we can prove our belief in that sovereignty by being faithful to continue to obey Him.