“Providence” was a term that was frequently used by America’s Founders, such as the unforgettable expression of their “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence” in America’s Declaration of Independence. Providence is rightly defined as the foreseeing, benevolent care and wise guidance of Almighty God in the lives of His creatures.
Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.
David’s psalm (and, indeed, all of Scripture) reveals that this life is a journey without a destination . . . until we get to the other side of the grave. We are pilgrims passing through this world, not settlers in it. Regardless of where our path leads, when it is a path of Providence it will always end in the glory of God and our good.
David deeply wanted to walk the paths of Providence, and he was crying out to God to teach him the right path to take . . . and this path will always lead in the opposite direction of the way the world is encouraging us to go. David had no interest in looking to the imagination of man as his guiding light. He sought the revelation of God (“guide me in your truth”) because he knew that God will always lead us in the right direction.
Let me be clear: the path of Providence may very well not be free of all obstacles and challenges. Often just the opposite is true! But when God is guiding us in His truth and teaching us along the way, we can be assured that we will reach the other side better than we were before we got there. God never promised us painless paths of providence; what He did promise was to get us safely to our destination. Knowing that truth, we are strengthened and comforted to press on, regardless of the cost or circumstance.
The key for successful Christian living is to hold tight to the same hope David had. He was not hoping for an easy, painless path of Providence to travel through this life. His hope was in God, morning, noon, and night. If you know the Scriptures, you might well ask, “Was David’s hope always in God?” I believe the answer is “Yes.” In his flesh, David stumbled badly on more than one occasion; he turned away from his holy hope and trusted in things smaller than God. Yet every time David did so, God would guide David back onto His path of truth and wisdom. Deep down, David’s hope was always in God.
We see this even in one of the most awful events recorded in sacred Scripture; David committed adultery and then did murder to cover it up. Yet the Lord’s great mercy and love still reached out and met David in his place of deepest need. To be sure, there would be great consequences for David’s sin, and it took a visit from the prophet Nathan to make that clear to the broken king. But through it all, God grew David up to become a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). He continued to set David’s feet upon the paths of Providence all the way into glory.
So . . . what paths of Providence have you been walking lately? Is God leading you . . . or are you trying to lead God? The answer to these questions will make all the difference in how your life works out.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!