Attributes that Anchor Us: God is Sovereign

The Lord reigns.” These words are few and simple but the truth that is framed is unspeakably wide. The psalmist wants us to take note, as these are his opening words in Psalms 93, 97 and 99.  We must not miss them.

The words ask for wholehearted trust, while answering innumerable questions and summing up as many situations. They are an explanation and an encouragement along the uncertain byways of life where sometimes broken hopes, like shards of glass, reach up to disturb our sanity.

God’s sovereignty is summed up by F.B. Meyer, who writes, “Everything in life is directed, superintended and controlled by a divine forethought.” It is important to note that within His control, He permits one event while purposing the other. This is the basis for man’s free will, which subject we won’t develop further.

Sovereignty can be illustrated by three rulers. First, Joseph was the Saviour of the world. The Pharaoh said to him, “Without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land” (Gen 41:44 KJV). In his hands were provisions “without number” (v49) to dispense however he decided, and he did so personally and tenderly. Our Lord directs every action and dispenses from the storehouses of His grace and justice according to His own discretion. He does not need to excuse or explain Himself nor does He modify or adapt any exercise of His authority. He cannot do something the wrong way or a better way. He only does things the best way.

The second ruler is David, called “the Shepherd of my people” (2Sa 5:2), and “the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went” (2Sa 8:6). Remember that with 400 tired men he attacked the much larger Amalekite force who, by divine permission, had burned his home in Ziklag (1Sa 30). God does not explain why David lost everything one day only to recover it all (plus more) the next day, but David again learned that “the battle is the Lord’s.” Most certainly the Lord is never intimidated, inconvenienced or inadequate as He snatches triumph from the mouth of evil intent. A significant thread in this story involves tender care towards a “nobody,” a cast-off slave who is restored and who points the way to victory. His power, always fused with kindness, often unveils itself most plainly in the “weak things of the world.”

Third, we consider Solomon, often called “my/his Son,” fulfilling the purposes of his father’s heart. With his dominion from sea to sea, he “exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom” (1Ki 10:23 KJV). “The only wise God” does not ask for input or opinions and has no council chambers where any matter needs to be reviewed. He lives above every argument, question and presumption as He draws from limitless wealth to fulfill “His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself” (Eph 1:9 NKJV). There are no boundaries, physical, temporal, mental or moral, that are beyond His hand, as everything is within His dominion.

These three pictures of the Saviour, Shepherd and Son present a view of our Lord’s sovereignty, underlining His unlimited provision, His unfaltering power and His unfathomable wisdom. At the same time, recall that tender compassion often undergirded the actions of these rulers. It is Solomon’s Song of Songs that develops this theme of unfailing love “that many waters cannot quench.” Our Lord is good, does only good, and His love is inseparable from His power, as even the story of Mephibosheth illustrates.

God’s sovereignty is profitably examined in the life of the “greater than Solomon.” And so here we dip our little cup into the account in Mark 6 as He feeds the 5000. The disciples are very concerned and they have summed up the situation as too desolate, too late and too little. It is likely we also have misinterpreted such scenes.

First of all, the too desolate place obstructs their faith and deletes all hope. But present with them is He who clothed the naked earth in myriad varieties of vegetation and filled the oceans and skies with unimaginable life. He would someday make “the desert rejoice and blossom as the rose.” The place could not be desolate as long as this Bread and Water of Life was present.

Second, it’s never too late. In Mark 6, what was an obstacle to them was an opportunity for Him. The Lord lives outside all concepts of time. He is never early; He is never late. The centuries are of no account to Him. For example, He spoke to Abraham about forming a nation and giving them the land, but it would be 400 years before He did so. He inspired Isaiah to write of His coming in humility and then of His return in glory. The nation waited 500 years for the first and has waited 2000 years for the second. It will all run its course in His time and on time. He is not fretting. Our days of tightening darkness do not hinder God’s purposes nor frustrate His designs. Everything is on course and on schedule. He is neither delayed nor dismayed, and never hurried or worried.

Third, with the Lord there is never too little. The disciples in Mark 6:38 view the handful of food for a large crowd and feel overwhelmed. But in His hand, “too little” or “too few” is always more than enough. After all, His fingers placed still undiscovered and uncountable stars in place, while at the same time He is lovingly mindful of even a single sparrow that falls. The number of loaves was not a factor. He didn’t even need that many, but in grace He used what they had that they might worship. That is the point! Clasping the hem of His sovereignty is not to be only theoretical.

The three royal psalms begin with “The Lord reigns.” Could there be a better beginning to any sentiment or situation? This subject is intensely practical, as you have likely proven. At a recent funeral, a brother spoke of the mysteries of life and confessed that he did not even want to have any answers – trusting God was enough. You may find yourself as we once did, at the threshold of university years, a marriage, a new baby or teenager. We understood, though shallowly, that the Lord would lead all the way because He could. And He did. And tears were mingled with joy.

It is no wonder that Psalm 99 advances a threefold mention of praise and worship, as in the last verse: “Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill.”