My Times are in His Hands

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

In this post I’d like to encourage you from Psalm 31. I was reading an old Baptist pastor’s sermon this week on psalm 31:15 (from which much of this is drawn and expanded) and he got me thinking about God’s providence, about his control over our lives and our situations, especially in light of all that is going on in the world right now. As I studied through the text, I began to be very encouraged, and I hope you will be too, as we study who God is and what scripture says to us about his care over his creation. Let’s read psalm 31 together, which is full of much encouragement, and then we will come back and study closely verse 15.

In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
2 Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me!
3 For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
4 you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.
6 I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the Lord.
7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have known the distress of my soul,
8 and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.
9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away.
11 Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
especially to my neighbors,
and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the whispering of many—
terror on every side!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
16 Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!
17 O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol.
18 Let the lying lips be mute,
which speak insolently against the righteous
in pride and contempt.
19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!
20 In the cover of your presence you hide them
from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter
from the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the Lord,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
22 I had said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to you for help.
23 Love the Lord, all you his saints!
The Lord preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord!

As I said above, we’re going to reflect on verse 15, really just the first half of verse 15, in which the Psalmist proclaims to God: “My times are in your hand.” This is a statement about God being in control over our lives, which theologians refer to as God’s providence. So let’s think deeply about this statement and talk about some ways that it should shape our thinking, and bolster our faith.

The Psalmist refers to his “times.” What does he mean by “times”?

First, we know this refers to his birth. The Lord has fixed the time of our beginning since before the foundation of the world. Just like God foretold of Abraham’s son, David’s son, Israel’s king Josiah, and Jesus’s birth, so too did he know and bring about your birth. Further, times doesn’t merely refer to your birthday, but who your parents are, when you will live, where you will live, what school you will go to, whom you will marry.

Second, just like the psalmist refers to his birth being in God’s hands, so too is our second birth in His hands. Some are called in their youth, some are called at old age. To use Jesus’s parable, some workers are called into the vineyard at the 3rd hour, some the 6th hour, some the 9th, and some the 11th hour. The timing of our new birth is in God’s hands.

I’ve been teaching through the Baptist catechism online, and question three speaks to this when it mentions that the Spirit is necessary to make the Word of God effectual in our salvation. Or to use language from the gospel of John, we must be born again, we must be regenerated, we must be converted, and that is one of the times that is in the Hands of God himself. Just like you were not a cause of your physical birth, so too are you not the cause of your spiritual birth, but are completely dependent upon the initiative of the Lord in effectually calling us and uniting us to Christ.

Third, just like our birth and new birth are in the hands of God, so too are all the works of God in our lives. All the times when He feels very near, and when he feels distant. When He elevates us and when we are disgraced. When we are praised and when we are humiliated. When we are hurt and when we are healed. When we are together and when we are isolated. Times of religious freedom and times of persecution. All of these times are in his hand.

God was just as sovereign when the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt as when they finally entered into the promised land. Likewise, God is sovereign in times of peace and harmony, and times of war, and times of plague and pandemics. Every moment, every up and down, every good day and bad are in the hands of God.

Fourth, If our birth, new birth, and every moment of our life in God’s hands, so too must be our Death.
i. All men are appointed once to die, and that appointment is set by our sovereign God. We have no ability to shorten or lengthen our days, any more than we have the ability to keep the sun from setting. Some die young and full of strength, some die old and full of days, but God has set the limits of us all.
ii. Job 7 begins by saying, “Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth?” Job speaks of man being like a hired worker, who’s limits are set by the master of the house. That is us, and our limits are set by him and him alone.

Finally, our birth, new birth, life, and death are all in the hands of God, but it doesn’t stop there. Our resurrection is also in the hands of God himself. The time of our resurrection is unknown to men and to angels, even Christ on earth said he didn’t know but that the Father did, but we know that God is in control over that glorious day. Just as our fleshly body was knitted together by him, so too will our spiritual body be made in a glorious manner according to his benevolent timing.

This unknown timing is for our good because it keeps us watchful and diligent. Christ himself said, “Watch, therefore, since you do not know the hour that the master comes.” We should expectantly watch for the coming of our Lord, and long for the day that our resurrected bodies are brought out in glory.

So we’ve talked about how some of the major ways that our times are in God’s hands. Now let’s examine: How it is that they are in His hand? We will answer this in three ways. They are in his hands as it relates to the timing, to His power, and to his providence. Timing. Power. Providence.

First, they are in his hands as it relates to the Timing. He is in control of the timing. We’ve examined it in detail already, but it’s worth pressing a little more. Every long red light, every foul ball, every parking ticket, every stray rainstorm, every dust particle on your shelf right now, all of them and the timing of their placement are within the sovereign control of God.

This is a great comfort to us, because of He is all wise. Who else would we want to be in control of the timing? If God is good and God is wise, then why would I not want him to control the timing of my life and events. For me to try and take control is foolishness. I am neither omniscient to see all things like he can, nor am I omnipotent and every-able to bring about my intentions, so for me to be in control of the timing is foolish.

It’s like a blind man who gets upset at the fully-sighted man that is leading him around and demands that he takes control for himself. We’d never give a blind man a license to drive on the roads, and likewise we’d not actually want to be in control over the events of our lives, because we’d end up wrecking it all.
iv. God is in control of the timing of the events.

Second, God also has our times in his hands as it relates to his Power. God’s power. By that we can say that he has the power to bring them about. If we were in control, we’d certainly have some sort of plan as it relates to the timing of events in our lives, but we’d have no actual way to bring them about. God, on the other hand, has not only the wisdom to know how to time everything, but has the power to bring it about for His intended means.

No storm or sickness or power of Satan or political scheme can hinder God’s power, unlike our power, which is brought to it’s knees by an enemy that nobody can even see or stop. God has our times in his hands as it relates to his power.

Third, we can say that our times are in God’s hands as it relates to his providence. In God’s providence he orders, controls, guides, superintends, and governs all of our times. Let me define providence, because that is a word that is not used often today. Providence refers to God’s continuing act of divine power where He preserves all things in being, supports their actions, and governs them according to His established order, and directs them to their ordained ends.

Or to say it more succinctly, the Westminster Larger Catechism says that God’s works of providence are God’s most holy, wise, and powerful preserving, and governing all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to His own glory.

Thus, we can say that any good that happens to us, is because of God’s own benevolent providence; and any evil that befalls us, is by his very permission. Further, the exact measure of good or evil that befalls us in any single episode is in accord with his very will. Our times are in His hand in accordance with His timing, his power, and his providence.

So, in my final point tonight I want to conclude by answering a single question: Why is this good news? Why is our times being in God’s hands good news for us? How can we apply this and what do we do with this knowledge?

First, God’s providence is good news to us because God is good. If we have God as our father, then we can trust that He is a good God that has our good at the heart of all of His plans. This is what Paul talks about in Romans 8:28 when he says, “that for those who love God all things work together for good.” We may not be able to see how everything plays out in the end, but we can trust that God is good and that He is working for our good.

But, if we have not been reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ, then we must recognize that God’s goodness stands against us. Because He is good, he must punish wickedness and sin. A good God could not let injustice and sin go unpunished. So, if you are outside of Christ, then hear my words and turn from your sins today. Turn to Christ who is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Read of him in scripture and cleave to Him as the only one who can save your soul, and then you will have the goodness of God working for you and not against you.

Second, God’s providence is good news to us because of the gospel. Consider how much God loves us:

If God is in control over all persons’ times, then we need also remember His control over Jesus’s times. In the fullness of time, the bible says, Jesus was sent to earth to be born of a woman. God was completely in control over the birth of Jesus Christ.

Every aspect of Jesus’s life, sufferings, and death was in God’s hands. God knew full well the terrible pain that Jesus would endure, and yet His love motivated him to be sent in our place. God cares so particularly for his people that he ordered the steps of the men that would condemn his Son. God loves his bride so resolutely, that he held in existence the very men that would whip Jesus. God meticulously nurtured the tree that would be cut down and hewn for his very own crucifixion. God sent the rains that would nourish the thorny vines that were to be pressed upon his brow. God formed the rock for the tomb in which Jesus’s body would be laid. And he did all of this not because his bride was inherently lovely, not because his church was spotless and pure. But because he is abounding in steadfast love and mercy.

And for us Christians this is so comforting because we all are tempted every day to doubt God’s goodness and to buck against his providence. We get impatient, which shows our unbelief that His timing really is for our good. We get frustrated with the hard times. We get bitter over the difficult situations. We get jealous over other people’s good providences and envious of other peoples’ comforts. Why can’t I have that, God? Why do I keep having this or that problem in my life?

But Jesus died for all that unbelief. He bore the punishment for it all on the cross, so that we could be forgiven. And when we’re united to Christ we’re given his very own Spirit, who guides us into greater patience and trust, where we can learn to trust our heavenly father’s good plan, and rest in his sovereign government over all things.

That’s how we can learn to have peace in this life. Not by the lack of storms and trials, but by a confidence that nothing is happening outside of God’s hands, and everything is being ordered toward our good and God’s glory.

Psalm 31:23-24:

Love the Lord, all you his saints!
The Lord preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord!


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