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And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hands. ~ 1 Samuel 17:47

And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hands. ~ 1 Samuel 17:47

Absolute sovereignty poses a problem for not a few modern minds. It is supposed that if God is ultimately in control, it would not really matter what we did. They object, more or less, that this removes all motivation man would have in doing right or what God commands to be done.

I don’t find the faithful in the Bible to suffer from such a crisis of doubt. If you were to pose this problem to David, I imagine he would respond with thoroughly furrowed brow, “That maketh no sense.” Allow me to explain.

The Philistines sought opportunity against Israel after they had anointed David king. They spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim to fight. David went down to the hold and “inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? Wilt thou deliver them into mine hand?” (2 Samuel 5:19). David did not march to battle immediately. He sought direction from the Lord.

God responded by giving David a command and a promise. “And the LORD said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand” (2 Samuel 5:19). David had a direction to go and a sure word of victory. What did he do?

    And David came to Baal-perazim, and David smote them there, and said, The LORD hath broken forth upon mine enemies before me, as the breach of waters. Therefore he called the name of that place Baal-perazim. And there they left their images, and David and his men burned them.” ~ 2 Samuel 5:20-21

David went and fought and won the victory. He also gave the glory to God for it.

What do we learn from this?

  1. The surety of victory beforehand did not cause David to think he had no responsibility. He did not think he didn’t have to go because God had already promised the victory. The opposite was the case. David went forth with zeal and energy to do the Lord’s bidding. The sovereignty of God empowered David.
  2. The battle being won by the Lord did not mean they didn’t have to really fight. They had to plan, march, and fight with all the energy, skill, and wisdom they had.

What does this mean for us today? For one thing, if Christ says we are to go “into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) and “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me” (John 6:37), we should go and preach with all our energy. And when the victory come, we should praise Him for it.

Matthew 10:29

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?
and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”

~ Matthew 10:29

The verse that now occupies our attention is certainly worthy of our meditation. On first notice, we deem that sparrows are near worthless creatures, (five could be had for a halfpenny according to Luke 12:6), and that God takes notice when even one falls to the ground. From this, we glean that God has knowledge of all His creation, taking notice and interest of the least of His creatures and that He is brought into sympathy with them.

These thoughts are the froth and cream of the verse and not strong meat sufficient to strengthen us for a forty days journey (1 Kings 19:8). There is more here than an incidental omniscience. Here the sovereign power of God is extolled. Let us take a few moments to fix our meditation here and be profited thereby.

In the first place, I wish to consider the context. In this tenth chapter, Christ is preparing His apostles to go out to work. “He gave them power” (Matthew 10:1), and He tells them to “Go… And as ye go, preach… freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:6-8). They are going to do the Lord’s work. He said, “Behold, I send you forth” (Matthew 10:16).

Christ further prepares them by giving them a warning, “But beware of men” (Matthew 10:17). He promises that they will suffer persecution. They will be cast out, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22). The path of righteousness is attended with hardship and trials for those who tread its narrow way. Christ tells them plainly that they can expect trials. However, in our text, the Lord is encouraging His apostles and makes an appeal to the sovereign power of God.

We have already seen some reasons why this verse contains more than a casual, or even intimate, knowledge of God of His creation. This is further evidenced by reading verse 31, “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” There is an obvious connection between the two verses. Christ intended the truth proclaimed in verse 29 to allay the fears of the apostles. He said, “Fear ye not therefore.” Just knowing that God had knowledge of them could not sufficiently relieve the fears of the apostles and embolden them for fervent service in the face of difficulties. I believe that Christ gave the apostles two things here, the first, to make them God-centered instead of self-centered, and the second, to increase their faith.

The first truth is about the sovereignty of God in His creation. Sparrows are essentially worthless to humans, but not so to God. Christ said, “And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” It is not just that God takes notice when the least of His creatures die, but He is active throughout the span of their life. He wills their birth and wills their death. Not one sparrow shall die until the time appointed by God. Not only this, but He sustains their life, “your heavenly Father feedeth them” (Matthew 6:26). Furthermore, their life, from beginning to end, fulfills His purpose.

There’s not a sparrow, or a worm, But’s found in His decrees;
He raises monarchs to their throne, And sinks them as He please.

We see God seated high upon His throne, ruling and reigning over the least to the greatest of His creation.

Let the whole race of creatures lie Abased before their God;
Whate’er His sovereign voice has formed, He governs with a nod.

The second truth is about the loving-kindness of the benevolent heavenly Father. Notice in our text that Jesus says, “Your Father.” He speaks of the base sparrows and yet says, “Your Father.” He shows God’s hand in feeding the fowls and yet He says, “Your heavenly Father” (Matthew 6:26).

The sparrow fulfills the design of its maker and is dependent upon Him from first to last, but the sparrow’s relationship is only as creature to creator. Not so with the child of God! Jesus declares that He is “your Father.” If the sparrow is in His hands, how much more is His beloved child? God has determined our beginning and end and He will sustain us all the way.

The apostles could take comfort in these truths, especially while serving Him. No matter how fiery was their trial, they could rest in the power of God and His love for them. Their duty was to proclaim His glory. May we receive grace and strength from God to “Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people” (Psalm 96:3). Amen.

Deuteronomy 4:39

“Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart,
that the LORD he is God in heaven above,
and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.”

~ Deuteronomy 4:39

It should be the life quest of every individual to know God and to increase our present knowledge of Him. We are instructed in the scriptures, “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee” (Job 22:21). The worldly man loves to glory in all his accomplishments. He adores his beauty and youthful strength. He glories in his wisdom and earthly successes. He revels in his riches and spends his days flattering himself. All such glorying is vain, foolish, and wicked. God says, “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:24). So far from pondering our own greatness, our text instructs us to know and consider God.

We see at once the sovereignty of God set before us for consideration. He rules with great power in heaven and upon “the earth. A king on the earth is only king of his kingdom. Once outside his country, he has no executive powers. However, God is the king of a vast domain. Of a truth, He “inhabiteth eternity.” His power knows no limits of potency or jurisdiction. He does whatever pleases Him to do.

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). The agnostic has said, “Well, there is a God. But He is in the heavens and we can’t know Him or worship Him. All such religion is futile.” They go on their way unconcerned about the unknown God. They think Him far away and obscure. “He is in heaven and we are on earth. What do we have to do with Him?” This only gives more reason to fear Him. “But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3). It is not only in heaven that He does His will, but also “among the inhabitants of the earth.” The hymn writer expressed it thus,

There’s not a sparrow, or a worm, But’s found in His decrees;
He raises monarchs to their throne, And sinks them as He please.

As absolute sovereignty demands, He is the one true God. Ten times in the scriptures when talking about God, we are told there is “none else.” Our text is one of those occurrences. “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (I Corinthians 8:5-6).

The world worships many gods. There is no shortage of knowledge of false gods. However, there is a dearth of knowledge of the one true God. He declares there is “none else.” God has no peers. He alone is God. “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:8). He alone is worthy to be praised. God has no real rivals though His enemies are numerous. There is none else. There is none even close. He alone is God.

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