305 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 105. Providence or random chaos?

Have you ever opened a box filled with 1000 jigsaw pieces and despaired that all those pieces could actually fit together somehow and become the beautiful scene that is depicted on the box? It does actually involve faith on our part that the company that produced the jigsaw actually put the right pieces in the right box! If not, well the normal frustration when putting it together is going to be magnified many times over.

Well, Psalm 105 is a bit like completing the jigsaw of 1000 pieces of historical data, as recorded in the Bible, from Genesis to Joshua. The psalmist takes a bird’s eye view of numbers of events and brings it all together helping us make sense of it all.

The most important thing to note in this Psalm is that it is predominately not about Abraham or Moses or even the people of Israel. This Psalm is about God! In fact, we could say it reveals that all that happened was not just some form of random chaos but was actually God’s plan, God’s purpose, i.e., the providence of God the Creator, Redeemer and Lord.

So, what actually do I mean by the term the “Providence of God”? Well, there have been many books written on the subject, so if you are really interested, go to your nearest Christian bookshop and buy one to study, thoughtfully. In this brief Blog I will give one definition and then we will get back to Psalm 105. It is taken from a book by John Piper, called “Providence” published by Crossway in 2020, and he is quoting from the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646):
“5.1. God the great Creator of all things [does] uphold, direct, dispose,
and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even
to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his
infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his
own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice,
goodness, and mercy.”

Simply, it is talking about the good ongoing “governance” of God over all that He has created and owns. Some key words defining this divine “governance” being “uphold, direct, dispose…wise…holy…infallible knowledge…free and immutable [or unchanging] counsel of his own will… to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness and mercy.”

So, as we read Psalm 105, we discover the “hand of God” in all the events recorded for us from Genesis to Joshua. The jigsaw pieces all begin to fit together to form a bigger and clearer picture of God’s purposes being worked out in and through a number of different people chosen by God to fulfill his purposes.

Check out the language of the Psalm acknowledging God’s providence:

Give praise to the Lord…
Remember the wonders he has done,
    his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced…
14 He allowed no one to oppress them;
    for their sake he rebuked kings…
16 He called down famine on the land
    and destroyed all their supplies of food;
17 and he sent a man before them—
    Joseph, sold as a slave…
    Jacob resided as a foreigner in the land of Ham.
24 The Lord made his people very fruitful…
26 He sent Moses his servant,
    and Aaron, whom he had chosen.
27 They performed his signs among them…
37 He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold…
39 He spread out a cloud as a covering,
    and a fire to give light at night…
44 he gave them the lands of the nations…
Praise the Lord.

Let me finish with some helpful words from Wilcock:

“As we look at Psalm 105… a pattern emerges…

First and foremost, the psalm is showing us the Lord himself… Whatever Abraham or Moses or Egypt or Israel may be doing, it is He who promises, rebukes, sends, makes, turns, speaks, brings, gives. He takes the initiatives and is the moving force behind all that happens.

That means, secondly, that to achieve his aims he will, when necessary, use unpleasant means. [For example], He caused famine to bring Jacob’s family to Egypt… he sent Joseph (to slavery and prison!) so that he would be in the right place at the right time to save them…

Thirdly, all of this is his ‘remembering’ of his covenant. What he has planned and promised, that he will infallibly do, however complex, protracted and puzzling his methods may seem.”  (# 5)

May this truth about the providence of our good and merciful Creator God bring you hope, even in the midst of the ongoing pandemic and as we hear news of war in Europe.

And may we always give thanks for the ultimate act of God’s providence as described in the words of John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

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