From the title, you might think this post is entirely about politics. It could have been, but instead, we examine human responsibility in light of God’s sovereign providence. Though, by the end of this post, you might concede that the principles we will discover are applicable to today’s political process and the restoration of our Republic.
The scripture that starkly portrays this seeming dichotomy between God and Man is found in the second book of Samuel the prophet (sometimes referred to as Two Samuel.) Preparing to battle the Ammonites and Syrians, Joab, commander of David’s armies, exhorts Abishai, his brother, to:
Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” 2 Samuel 10:12 English Standard Version (ESV)
John Calvin discussed this verse in The Institutes of the Christian Religion. As prelude, he sets out the following principles for one who would know and do God’s will. First God’s provision for us often comes through human hands:
…He [or she] will revere and extol God as the principal author [of the blessings which he receives], but will also honor men as his ministers, and perceive…that by the will of God he is under obligation to those, by whose hand God has been pleased to show him kindness.
The one who fears God will:
Believe that [any loss sustained through negligence or imprudence] was the Lord’s will it should so be, but, at the same time, he will impute it to himself.
…In the case of theft or murder, fraud and preconceived malice, […he] will distinctly recognize the justice of God, and the iniquity of man, as each is separately manifested.
Therefore, this one:
…Will not…be remiss in taking measures, or slow in employing the help of those whom he sees possessed of the means of assisting him. …As hands offered him by the Lord, he will avail himself of [all the aids which the creatures can lend him] as the legitimate instruments of Divine Providence.
Yet, undeterred by uncertainty or overconfidence:
And as he is uncertain what the result of any business in which he engages is to be (save that he knows, that in all things the Lord will provide for his good), he will zealously aim at what he deems for the best, so far as his abilities enable him.
However, his confidence in external aid will not be such that the presence of it will make him feel secure, the absence of it fill him with dismay, as if he were destitute.
Calvin, having laid out these principles, says:
Thus Joab, while he acknowledges that the issue of the battle is entirely in the hand of God, does not therefore become inactive, but strenuously proceeds with what belongs to his proper calling, “Be of good courage,” says he, “and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God; and the Lord do that which seems him good,” (2 Sam. 10:12).
The same conviction keeping us free from rashness and false confidence, will stimulate us to constant prayer, while at the same time filling our minds with good hope, it will enable us to feel secure, and bid defiance to all the dangers by which we are surrounded.
Some voters this election season have been thinking:
“…[I have] nothing to lose,” but most of us have something to lose.”
I feel we’re in danger of throwing our Republic to the wind. Another commentator has said:
Now we are at the start of an electoral season that Americans say is of the utmost importance even as they make the most flippant choice of front-runners…
Sober up, America. We’re a republic only for as long as we can keep it.
You might say, “we trust in God; He will bring about a good result.” But, I urge us to trust “the Lord to do what seems good to Him” and be courageous for our people: pray, vote, donate, and campaign.
Speaker Ryan at National Prayer Breakfast: ‘Prayer Should Always Come First,’ Speaker Paul Ryan, Published Feb 4, 2016