Items posted on 3 January 2011
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Exodus 3.16-19 and 1 Samuel 23.21-28
Providence and the Will of God
Posted: 3 January 2011 in 1 Samuel, Exodus
Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you….. And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God. And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.”

“And Saul said, Blessed be ye of the LORD; for ye have compassion on me. Go, I pray you, prepare yet, and know and see his place where his haunt is, and who hath seen him there: for it is told me that he dealeth very subtilly….. And they arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the plain on the south of Jeshimon. Saul also and his men went to seek him. And they told David; wherefore he came down into a rock, and abode in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon….. But there came a messenger unto Saul, saying, Haste thee, and come; for the Philistines have invaded the land. Wherefore Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines: therefore they called that place Selahammahlekoth.”

The passage from Exodus tells us that the Canaanites, Hittites, and other nations, are due for destruction at the hands of the Israelites, who will be acting as God’s agents. An immediate question which arises from this is to wonder what the poor old Canaanites have done to deserve that fate. The only possible answer to this is that Israel has been chosen by God to be the carrier of his revelation, and that revelation will eventually culminate in the incarnation of Christ and the emergence of the early Church. The Canaanites, Hittites, Perizites and Jebusites, on the other hand, are not God’s chosen people, and will disappear from history. From a human perspective that God should, apparently arbitrarily, choose one nation rather than another, is incomprehensible to us, but the Bible assures us that it is true:

The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuternoomy 7.7-8)

In the passage taken from 1 Samuel it is David who is the subject of God’s providential care. God has previously told Saul that the throne of Israel will be taken from him, and that it will be given to David and his descendants. This, clearly, is not good news for Saul, and so he sets out to frustrate God’s will by killing David. To thwart what God intends is, of course, something impossible for human beings to do, but that does not prevent them, in their sin, from trying to do it: And that even when they suspect that they know what God’s will for them is (and I include myself in that).

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