I’ve often wondered about the workings of the sovereignty of God and the volition of man together. In the sermon last night I saw a very good example in the life of Samson. It’s by no means exhaustive, but it gives a good grasp at least.
Up to this point in the book of Judges, the children of Israel have been going through the same cycle over and over. They prosper, forget God and worship false gods, get punished by God handing them over to their enemies, then they realize they’re wrong, seek God’s forgiveness, and He sends a judge and delivers them.
But when Samson came along, the Israelites weren’t even looking for a deliverer this time. They were perfectly content with the way things were (Judges 13:1; 15:10-13). As an added point of interest, Samson was the only judge that was officially called before he was born (Judges 13).
Even though God’s people weren’t looking for a deliverer, and even though Samson didn’t always do things the way he should have, God still performed His purpose. Because of His covenant with them, God was going to deliver Israel whether they wanted it or not, and He was going to do it through Samson whether he liked it or not.
As Samson grew into a man the calling on his life was obvious (Judges 13:24-25). But though at times he exercised faith, he frequently seemed quite disinterested in his leadership. Samson was free to make his own choices, and God was going to have His purpose of deliverance performed.
Samson went and fraternized with the enemy. God used that anyway (Judges 14:4). Samson and the Philistines had exchanges of revenge, and then Samson had every intention of stopping and having nothing more to do with the Philistines (Judges 14:12-15:8).
But Samson’s personal business with the Philistines became a national problem (Judges 15:9-10), forcing Samson into action once more. The children of Israel did the enemy’s work for them in capturing Samson. God used that also (Judges 15:9-20), reducing the problem to heaps.
Not long after, we see Samson’s weakness for women (Judges 16:1, 4, 16-17). This gets him captured by the enemy (Judges 16:18-21). God used this as well, eventually bringing the house down with deliverance (Judges 16:23-31).
God’s purpose will always be performed. Your choices are always yours to make. Much like a teenager on family vacation, you can either be miserable because you didn’t want to come, or you can actually find fun and enjoy yourself. God has a purpose and wants our participation. We get to decide how we’re going to participate.
God is sovereign and yet allows us volition. I still don’t really understand, but I have a better idea of it now. Thank God for both His sovereignty and our volition!