“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Ps 139:16).
“What is meant, we may well ask, when the Psalmist asserts that all the days are written upon God’s book?…The thought here is that the entirety of the Psalmist’s being, even including the days of his life, are inscribed in a book that belongs to God. By the days of his life the Psalmist has in mind all the vicissitudes that he must experience. All of his life, each individual day with all that that day will bring, is written down by God in His own book,” E. J. Young, The Way Everlasting (Banner of Truth 1997), 80-81.
“Furthermore, it is stated that these days of the Psalmist’s life have been formed before there were any of them…If we understand his language aright, he is saying that the days of his life were actually formed before even one of them had come into existence. All his life, the details of each day, had been written down in the book of God, before any of these days had actually occurred,” ibid. 81.
“The Psalmist has here reached a peak in his exaltation of the all-knowing and all-powerful God. Not only does God know all things, but God has also foreordained all things. In other words, the Psalmist has brought us head on with the doctrine of predestination. His life he regards not as a chance happening, but as a life already planned by God even before he himself was born. All the days that David would live and all the events of each day had been written down in God’s book before David himself had come into existence,” ibid. 81.
“David’s life is not determined by David; he is not the master of his fate nor the captain of his soul, nor, for that matter, is any man. Before David appeared upon the earth, the days of his life had been determined by God Himself. Indeed, all that occurs had been foreordained of God. God has a plan and hence there are no surprises for Him. He knows what the future will bring forth, for He Himself has determined the future. David was to live a life that had been predetermined for him,” ibid. 82.
“David does not rebel at this thought and neither should we. The contemplation of this profound doctrine leads him to an utterance of the preciousness of God’s thoughts. He is willing that it should be as set forth here. He is content that God has determined in advance his life, predestined the course of events for him. As a devout believer in the Lord he knows that whatever God does is right," ibid. 82.
I’d add that David was a believer in the afterlife (cf. Ps 16). So, when David says that God wrote out in full every day of his life before he even existed, not only does this extend from conception to the grave, but beyond the grave. From eternity past to eternity future.
And yet, for some odd reason, many professing believers resist, resent, and outright deny that God has mapped out our entire life before we even existed.
Now, I understand why some folks would resent that idea. Suppose you’re a pagan. Given the character of the pagan deities, its quite understandable that you’d take refuge in the notion of human autonomy. If Baal or Dagon or Molech were the true God, then you’d want to put as much distance between yourself and a god like that as at all possible. That’s not the sort of “God” you’d ever want to bump into in a dark alley.
Likewise, I understand why an atheist resents that idea. After all, an atheist hates the idea of God. So he hates the idea that God controls his life. It’s an irrational fear and loathing, but given his attitude, it's only logical that he bitterly resents the idea.
There are other spheres of life in which it’s natural for men and women to value their independence. If you’re a citizen of a totalitarian or tyrannical regime. If you’re a serf or a slave or prisoner.
Likewise, it’s natural for teenagers to chafe under parental control. A teenager is becoming an adult in his own right. Pretty soon he has to make a life for himself. So he wants to shake off parental authority. Up to a point that’s a natural, normal, and healthy stage in his development–although some adolescents get carried away with teenage rebellion. And they simply enslave themselves to peer pressure.
And, of course, some kids have abusive or overbearing parents. It’s understandable that they can hardly wait to strike out on their own.
But why would any professing believer rankle under divine control? Why would he resent the idea that God has a blueprint for his life?
More than resent. Many professing believers positively despise the idea. They unleash every pejorative epithet and adjective in the thesaurus to revile the very idea. Such a God is a puppeteer or puppet-master. It reduces us to robots.
(Mind you, when libertarians tell me that I worship a puppeteer, I’m temped to reply: “We're all puppets, Laurie. I'm just a puppet who can see the strings.”)
And they’re not alone in this. Lucifer was the first Arminian. The first libertarian. The very first creature to crave his emancipation from God’s dominion.
The only logical explanation for this reaction is if you don’t trust God with your life. God can’t be trusted to author your existence.
Why is that? Do you think you can do a better job of planning your life than he can?
If you can’t trust God with your life, then what can you trust him with? If God is too untrustworthy to compose the days of your life, then why worship and obey him? Why go through the motions? If you can’t trust God with your life, then he’s hardly worthy of your worship or obedience.
If that’s what you think of God, why not become an atheist? How can you have faith in a God you cannot trust with your life? Mistrust is the antonym of faith. Would you put your faith in someone you distrust? Of course not! Not if you could avoid it. Would you depend on such a person? Of course not! Not if you could help it.
Many professing believers act as though God is the domineering mother-in-law whom they must visit once a year. After completing their onerous annual duty, they breathe a sigh of relief to once again be free of her clutches.
Honestly, I don’t see any middle ground here. I can’t imagine praying to a God I wouldn’t trust with my life. I can’t imagine submitting to a God I wouldn’t trust with my life.
Do you really revere such a Being? Deep down, do you really think he’s wiser than you are? How can you regard predestination as evil and oppressive and still look up to God?
Many professing believers can’t stand the idea that God has a blueprint for your life and mine. And they don’t understand how believers like me could abide such a God.
Well, my attitude is just the opposite: I don’t understand how they can sing and pray to a God whom they would never trust with their own lives, or the lives of their loved ones. They have less faith in God than they abode in their doctor or babysitter.
A God you can’t bring yourself to trust with your life is not a God you should bring into your life. What kind of God do you really believe in?
Speaking for myself, I’m incredibly honored by the idea that God wrote the story of my life. I’m a chapter in his book. My name is in the index. Imagine that!
That’s a real page-turner. I can’t wait to get up every morning and see what God has written for my life that day.
This doesn’t mean that every day is like a Hallmark card. Life in fallen world can be a hair-raising experience. Full of hardship and heartache.
But we know, if God has written the script, that it’s all worthwhile in the long run. Better by far than anything you and I could write by ourselves or for ourselves.
This is a book we read by living. We find out what God has written for us and about us by living each day at a time.
When historians write books, they write about famous or infamous men and women. Big names. Movers and shakers.
They rarely write about ordinary folks. You and I are not important enough to even merit a footnote.
But God devotes a chapter to each and every one of us. A chapter especially written with you and me in mind. That both humbles and exalts us. This is something we should celebrate, not denigrate. Cherish and relish rather than revile.