God’s Part and Ours: Balancing Sovereignty & Responsibility

In II Samuel 10 David had sent his armies to fight a coalition of the Ammonites and the Arameans. Just before the battle, David’s general Joab told his brother Abishai, whom he had given charge of an important part of the battle: “Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the LORD do what is good in His sight.” (:12)
Joab demonstrated an important balance in his outlook here, a balance between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility:

One the one hand, Joab told Abishai that they needed to do their best: “be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous …”. This was MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY.

But then on the other hand, he knew that the results were ultimately in God’s hands, not theirs. Thus he added: “and may YHWH do what is good in His sight.” This was reflective of GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY.

In this passage, Joab exhibited a wise and godly combination of trust in God’s sovereignty over events, while not denying their own responsibility as men to act and do what they could.

Often the difficulty in situations — even for those of us who ARE aware of both sovereignty and responsibility — is in finding that godly balance. Is our present circumstance an occasion in which we are merely to trust God’s hand, since He is sovereign, and we are to keep our hands out of it? Or is this one of those times when we are to do all that we can (like Joab in the battle) but trust that God will bring His sovereign purposes about as a result?

As we face each circumstance that God puts before us, it should be our prayer that God would give us the wisdom to both trust His sovereignty with our situation, and yet be responsible to do whatever we ought — to keep that sometimes difficult balance of God’s sovereignty, and man’s responsibility.

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, provides brief devotions from own personal daily Bible reading, as well as some of my sermons, book reviews, and family life experiences.
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