From Your Pastor: Calvin on the Blessed Practicality of the Providence of God


“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all of our days!” (Psalm 90:14)

“By this [teaching of providence] we confess that we have all our trust fixed in God the Father, whom we acknowledge to be Creator of ourselves and of absolutely all things that have been created, which have been established by the Word, His eternal wisdom (who is the Son), and by His power (who is the Holy Spirit). And, as He once established, so now He sustains, nourishes, activates, preserves, by His goodness and power, apart from which all things would immediately collapse and fall into nothingness. But when we call Him Almighty and Creator of all things, we must ponder such omnipotence of His whereby He works all things in all, and such providence whereby He regulates all things…

By faith are we to be persuaded that whatever happens to us, happy or sad, prosperous or adverse, whether it pertains to the body or to the soul, comes to us from Him (sin only being excepted, which is to be imputed to our own wickedness); also by His protection we are kept safe, defended, and preserved from any unfriendly force causing us harm. In short, nothing comes forth from Him to us (since we receive all things from His hand) which is not conducive to our welfare, howsoever things may commonly seem at one time prosperous, at another adverse. Indeed, all these things are done to us by Him, not through any worth of ours, nor by any merit to which He owes this grace, not because we can force His beneficence to make any reciprocal payment. Rather it is through His fatherly kindness and mercy that He has to do with us, the sole cause of which is His goodness.

For this reason, we must take care to give thanks for this very great goodness of His, to ponder it with our hearts, proclaim it with our tongue, and to render such praises as we are able. We should so reverence such a Father with grateful godliness [piety] and burning love, as to devote ourselves wholly to His service, and honor Him in all things. We should also so receive all adverse things with calm and peaceful hearts, as if from His hand, thinking that His providence so also looks after us and our salvation while it is afflicting and oppressing us. Therefore, whatever may finally happen, we are never to doubt or lose faith that we have in Him a propitious and benevolent Father, and no less are to await salvation from Him.”

~Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1536 edition, pgs. 66-67.

Study Guide for Books of Samuel: A Man After God’s Own Heart

Summary of Books of Samuel: According to God’s perfect timing and through His most holy and wise determination, God graciously grants Israel a king after His own heart. Though Israel was largely characterized by “doing what is right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25), God powerfully raises up Samuel, who serves as a transition from the time of the judges to the monarchy. Samuel was to be the last of God’s faithful judges to lead and deliver Israel (1 Sam. 7:15); he would be the voice of God as Israel’s prophet (1 Sam. 3:20; Acts 3:24); he would be the servant of God as Israel’s priest (1 Sam. 2:35). As Prophet, Priest, and Judge, Samuel will anoint Israel’s first king (1 Sam. 10:1), and her best king (1 Sam. 16:13).

Place of Books in Larger Redemptive-Historical Story (Genesis 3:15; 17:6, 16; 49:10; Deuteronomy 17:14-20; 2 Samuel 7:12-13;): The Book of Samuel is a Tale of Two Kings. King Saul was the kind of king the sinful people wanted: one who was like the nations (1 Sam. 8:5b; cf. Deut. 17:14b). King David was the kind of king that was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). More broadly considered, Samuel is situated in Redemptive-History which is itself a Tale of Two Kings. Adam, God’s first king was chosen to have dominion over the earth, to show forth to the world God’s righteousness and rule as His vice-regent (deputy), but he rebelled against God’s righteous rule (Gen. 1:26; Eccl. 7:29). Christ was God’s ultimate chosen king who would faithfully reveal God’s reign and rule and be exalted to rule over heaven and earth.

“…He will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed [“Messiah”].” (1 Sam. 2:10b).

After the rebellion of God’s first king, God graciously proclaims the Gospel-good news of the coming of another king, Jesus Christ, who would destroy rebellion, sin, and all evil, and would rule and reign righteously over heaven and earth (Gen. 3:15). This coming king is revealed progressively throughout the Bible story. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of kings (Gen. 17:6, 16; also Jacob, 35:11), and from the Tribe of Judah was to come forth a ruler and king of the people (Gen. 49:10; Micah 5:2). In the time of Moses, God revealed more fully that when the people of Israel were settled in Canaan that though Israel would desire a king like the sinful nations around them, God would choose the right king for them. He would be a humble king, who would rule faithfully according to God’s good and righteous law (Deut. 17:14-20). God revealed in the time of David that his heir would build God’s dynasty-house and that he would reign eternally upon his throne (2 Sam. 7:12-16). This righteous king, the Lord Jesus Christ, would be fully revealed as son of Adam (Luke 3:38), Son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1), Son of Judah, Son of David (Matt. 1:1), heir to David’s throne (Matt. 1:20; 21:15), and Holy Son of God (Luke 1:32-35, 3:38; Matt. 3:17). “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” (Psalm 2:6-7).

God’s chosen king, Jesus Christ, chosen before the foundation of the world, would come in the fullness of time to reveal the true image of God faithfully, showing forth God’s perfect and holy righteousness in word and deed. Jesus Christ would be both Son of God and Son of Man, honoring God in perfect obedience where His people had failed in their rebellion, and imputing His perfect righteousness to them. Jesus Christ would be both Son of God and Son of Man, offering himself as the final sacrifice to God, crushing the evil one, and definitively destroying all sin, death, and evil, freeing His people by His Spirit to love and live righteously before God in reliance upon His grace! “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13b).

Four Main Characters of Books of Samuel: (1) The LORD, Covenant God and Lord of Hosts; (2) Samuel of Levi; (3) Saul of Benjamin; (4) David of Judah

Four Important Scriptures for Memorization/Meditation:

“There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” – ESV 1 Samuel 2:2

“And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”ESV 1 Samuel 15:22

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”ESV 1 Samuel 16:7

“When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”ESV 2 Samuel 7:12-13

 Major Themes about God: “There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” (1 Sam. 2:2) – * Sovereign Providence of God (1 Sam. 1:5, 6; 2:6-7) * Presence of God (1 Sam. 1:3, 22) * Power of God (Omnipotence, 1 Sam. 2:10) * Covenant Promises of God (1 Sam. 1:19b; 2:1) * Faithfulness of God * Holiness of God (1 Sam. 2:2; 6:20) * Decree of God * Immutability of God * Fear of God * God’s glory (“weightiness”) * God’s surprising work in history (reversals of historical “norms”, 1 Sam. 2:3-5, 8-10).

Date of Books: ca. 1050 BC (time when Samuel began to write) – 970 BC (end of David’s reign)

Genre (s): Historical Narrative * Preached History * Theological History * Inspired Hero Story

Inspired Authors/Editors: Samuel (1 Sam. 10:25; cf. 1 Sam. 25:1a), Nathan (2 Sam. 7:2; 12:1) and Gad (2 Sam. 24:11). “Now the acts of King David, from first to last, are written in the Chronicles of Samuel the seer, and in the Chronicles of Nathan the prophet, and in the Chronicles of Gad the seer…” (1 Chronicles 29:29).

Outline of Books of Samuel:

  1. Samuel (1 Samuel 1-7)
  2. Saul (1 Samuel 8-15)
  • David I (1 Samuel 16-31)
  1. David II (2 Samuel 1-20)
  2. Kingdom (2 Samuel 21-24)

Shorter Catechism Question and Answer Memorization: Q: What are God’s works of providence? A. God’s works of providence are His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all His creatures and all their actions.