I have had a great time diving into these chapters full of wisdom- great reminders and truths!
Chapter 16 has a varied number of our categories- I may list them again tomorrow and tweak the titles a bit- but a huge part of chapter 16 seems to focus on God's sovereign rule.
Chapter 16 has 33 verses and I marked 12 of those that have direct connections to God's providence.
My reformed tradition has a really big view of God- but my biggest, grandest view of Him is just a droplet of dew in the ocean of His true personhood. From time to time I get some sense of it and it almost makes my skin peel off my bald head as I shudder to the immenseness of what God has to be.
A couple of examples: I don't fly often, but when I do I can't look around hard enough at all the sights below. Last time I was in a plane I thought about how many people there were- all of those houses- all of those cars- all of that activity- it is superfluous for me to even try to comprehend how God could hear all the prayers and govern all the stuff- but HE DOES!
Or when I contemplate the universe and a concept like a black hole- I can't even fathom the immensity of a being who holds it all in check and understands the blueprint down to the last atom- but HE DOES!
At this point, we do need to allow the skeptic to speak- "Too big for a neanderthal concept like mythological gods, fairies, and devils." My response- the alternative is even more preposterous, in my opinion. What if? I'm just simple enough to say that God is there- He has revealed Himself- and He says He does it- He says He did something special for me- WHOA! Do you see why it makes me tremble at times?
So are we free if God is in control? And the answer is YES. We choose, but in our choosing make no serious dent on God's intent. If I were to choose today to walk away- I could not effect God's space time continuum at all- and He would easily get me where and when I needed to be without pulling one single puppet string. I cannot explain it because it is too far above me to lay my hands on- but we are free and God is sovereign- Light is a wave and a particle- the answer to both premises is YES.
Look at what chapter 16 says about this:
We plan in our heart- but God controls the ultimate result- vs 1
We evaluate- God is the ultimate judge- vs 2
We should commit to God's way because He is likely to establish those things that line up with His nature- vs 3
God even uses the wicked for His purpose- vs 4
(Though He sometimes works slowly)- steadfast love and loyalty wins- vs 6
God even makes a man's enemies to conform to His purpose- vs 7
God establishes a man's steps- vs 9
The true system of evaluation is God's last word- we should seek His assessment standards- vs 11
Even if you are a King- you are not the ultimate ruler- vs 12
The moment you make yourself a sovereign- God will look to sit you down vs 18
Every decision is under God's rule and control- vs 33
One reminder: I have written about this before- but trusting in God's sovereignty is not an excuse to shrug our shoulders and say "Oh well, God's will." We should pray like everything is up to Him and work like it is up to us. We should trust in God's sovereignty going hard and fast- not weak and slow. Especially in areas if equity and justice: We have to speak up and stand up for what we know is right- even if there are consequences.
Two final observations:
1) Our default mode is to rebel against the King. We do not like to be ruled. We want to be in charge. Part of becoming a believer is a willingness to bow the knee to the throne in heaven. It means we follow even if we don't feel like it or understand it. This is unnatural to our basic instinct.
2) From how the Bible describes this King, why would you NOT want to bow to Him? The first time I watched the movie, Chronicles of Narnia- I knew that Aslan was going to show. I enjoyed all the talking animals and cute kids.
But when the screen showed the King- the computer generated majestic lion- that I had read about and heard about from my childhood- I just teared up and my heart lept. The symbol of Aslan was just close enough to the reality that it represented that I almost broke down in the theater. Why? Because He is so powerful, majestic, royal- but mostly, because He is sooooo good.
One day we will all bow anyway- why not now? He is in control and He is good. I have no problems with that- in fact, 'tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word'......