“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.
We Know God Through His Providence
Then there’s God’s providence—how He arranges our lives. Psalm 107 explains many of the things that God does for His people. Many times God steps in and provides unexpected blessings to the miserable, especially when they are on the brink of despair. He’ll protect them when they stray off the right path and into the desert of sin. He will give them food when they are hungry. He delivers them from chains and prisons. He brings them safely home when they are traveling. He delivers them from the gates of death by healing their sickness. After burning up the fields with heat and fire, He will refresh them with the rivers of His grace. He exalts the lowly and casts down those who are proud and lifted up.
The Psalmist, after describing all the different things that God does, goes on to explain that although people many merely see such circumstances as “good luck,” they are actually evidence of God’s providence. More specifically, it is evidence of His fatherly care. Such care is joy for the righteous and shuts up the wicked.
Now, most of humanity is enslaved by error and blind to the glory which radiates from the world. But the Psalmist demonstrates the wisdom of meditating carefully on God’s works. Unfortunately, many smart people see His works but don’t really “see” them in a spiritual sense. It’s true: you probably will only find one person in a hundred who will truly see the glory of God’s works. Even so, His power and wisdom is still plain to see. For example, His power is strikingly displayed when He crushes the rage of the wicked in a single moment, even though it seemed like they are unstoppable. He subdues their arrogance, overthrows their defenses, crushes their armor, breaks their strengths, and defeats their scheme, without any effort at all. On the other hand, He lifts the poor out of the dirt, and needy out of the garbage pile (Psalm 113:7). He gives hope to the despairing: the unarmed defeat the armed, the few the many, the weak the strong. God’s wisdom is shown when He distributes everything at the right time, confounds the wisdom of the world, and ensnare the “wise” of the world in their own schemes (1 Corinthians 3:19). In sum: He conducts all things in perfect accordance with reason.