SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 6 June 2021
Sermon Text: 1 Samuel 2:1-10
Sermon Series: “The Sovereignty of God”
I. There must be a God, isn’t there?
II. God must be sovereign
III. The sovereignty of God is His rulership
Today is the first Lord’s Day in winter. We have come to the half mark of the year 2021 and I’d like us to take a break from the Book of Judges and consider in this month of June one of the most important matters in Christian’s belief, that is, ‘the sovereignty of God.’ In a word, ‘the sovereignty of God’ means who God really is. So, this theme is about the basis of Christianity and foundation of our belief in God. Over the four Lord’s Days in June, starting from today, we’ll focus on this foundation.
And today’s message is the introduction to this series, and it is about why God is sovereign and must be sovereign. In the following Sundays, just to give you a brief guideline of this series, God’s sovereignty will be explained through His act of creation, His act of choice, and His way of revealing Himself, and we’ll also contemplate on each point, seeing how God’s sovereignty is related to our human freedom and responsibility. It’ll be an interesting series and I pray that the Lord may guide us in His Spirit and give us an understanding, thus, grant us a great joy of resting in His sovereign and gracious arms.
I. “THERE MUST BE A GOD, ISN’T THERE?”
To begin, let me direct you to a universal truth every human mind knows and acknowledges, that is, the belief in supernatural being and more specifically, the existence of God. It is an undeniable fact. No matter how faintly or strongly individuals are aware of His presence, but this knowledge is embedded in every human mind. So, not only do individuals know, but also every culture on earth proves this as true. Someone said that this awareness was a ‘universal ingredient in all human cultures.’ So natural to all people is the existence of ‘God.’
Albert Einstein, one of the great brains of the human race, once said this: ‘The more I study science, the more I believe in God.’ Although he was not a Christian, no doubt he said that he sensed the existence of God through science. A famous actor of our time pointed out that the existence of God was a fact, not an opinion, saying this: ‘The existence of God is not subjective; He either exists or He doesn’t; it’s not a matter of opinion; you can have your own opinions, but you can’t have your own facts.’ While there are people who object to this knowledge of the existence of God being a universal concept, in the eyes of most people, it is a simple and concrete fact as Pat Conroy, well-known American writer of our time, once said: ‘The wing of a fly is proof enough of the existence of God for me.’
The real issue of all mankind is, therefore, not whether a God exists, but what God is like. So, the questions asked are like, ‘Is God one or many? Personal or impersonal? Good and fair or harsh and capricious?’ In a word, everyone has this question, ‘There is a God, isn’t there?’ But, this question does not really require an answer because all people know its answer. So, people move on to the next step, questioning, ‘Who is He, then? What is He like?’
II. GOD MUST BE SOVEREIGN
God’s sovereignty is the answer for questions like these. Being ‘sovereign,’ God is independent – this means He is not under another’s authority or power. He is not responsible to anyone or anything, but He alone is the Ruler of all that is. In His sovereignty, God governs and exercises supreme, permanent authority over all. Otherwise, I mean, if God was not sovereign, He would be no God because sovereignty is the hallmark or distinctive characteristic of God.
Let me elaborate what I’ve just said. If a deity is not sovereign, having no supreme, final authority over all that is, then, it means that that deity is limited or restricted or confined. This also means that that deity lacks in some of its attributes, such as knowledge, presence or power. So, such a deity would know partially, can neither reach some places, nor do some things. Such a deity is surely disqualified for being ‘God.’
To be ‘God,’ He must be omniscient (that is, all knowing), omnipresent (being present everywhere simultaneously), and omnipotent (all powerful). God is the deity who has all these attributes in full sense and exercises all things in His fullness.
This is what we hear from today’s text passage, 1 Sam. 2:1-10. Here, Hannah prays to ‘the LORD,’ that is, ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Jehovah,’ the name of the supreme God, Israel’s covenant God. She brings her petition to the all-powerful, all-knowing, omnipresent, and good and gracious supreme God who introduced Himself in Ex. 3:14 as “I Am Who I Am,” meaning, He alone is God who is over all things and from whom all things have come to existence. Because she prays to this God, she confesses in v. 1 that her horn is exalted – in other words, she is victorious. For the same reason, her mouth derides, disdains, mocks her enemies. If she were praying to a deity who was not sovereign, she would’ve never been able to confess this because her deity could not guarantee a victory, nor enable her to sneer at her enemies.
God must be sovereign, and the God of the Bible is the only One who is supreme over all that is. He alone is God! This is what Hannah confesses in v. 2, saying, “There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides You; there is no rock like our God.” We hear God confirming this truth in other places of the Bible – for example, in Dt. 32:39, God says, “See now that … there is no god beside Me.” God who alone is God is sovereign and must be sovereign.
III. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IS HIS RULERSHIP
Our God’s sovereignty is described in the Bible as His ‘rulership.’ In other words, how He reigns; how He controls and governs all beings and all things. So, God’s sovereignty is not one of His attributes, but a ‘whole collection of attributes’ and what He does based on His attributes.
Let me again take your attention to Hannah’s prayer to explain what I mean. From v. 6 and on, she talks about what God does with man’s life, saying that God kills and brings to life. Moreover, God makes poor and rich, and brings low and exalts, and so on. This tells us the spectrum of God’s sovereign ruling and governing, and this spectrum ranges from life to death, including everything in between. There’s nothing outside of God’s sovereign rulership; His will is done in both spheres of life, over all spheres of all things of the world. This is the Lord’s self-introduction in Rev. 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” He is A and Z, if you like, and all in between the first and the last letters belong to Him and are under His sovereign rulership.
Christian’s comfort and joy come from no other source but this. The God you and I believe and worship, this God who called us and cleansed us with the blood of His Son Jesus Christ to be His own, and continually enables us to commit our life to Him is over all things, and nothing escapes from His sight, nothing takes place outside of His plan, without His consent, without His knowledge. And this God is also good and gracious to us. How good and exciting is this fact? What else could comfort us more than this truth? Nothing! The more we understand God’s sovereignty, the deeper this source of our comfort and joy and hope becomes.
Hannah of 1 Sam. 2 is a good example of this. She is comforted so deeply, strengthened so greatly through her understanding of the Lord’s sovereign rulership, thus, becomes bold and is sure about many things. For example, she is one hundred-percent confident that “the adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces” and “the LORD will judge the ends of the earth; He will give strength to His king and exalt the horn of His anointed” (v. 10).
In the beginning of 1 Samuel, Hannah was sad because she had no child. Her prayer and petition to God was for a child. By the grace of God, she received one and, as she had promised, she gave her son, Samuel, to God. Through it all, she realised that God is sovereign, He rules all things, He is the one supreme God over all that is. So, she prays in ch. 2 and, in full joy and comfort, glorifies her God, our God!
What does this tell us? What do we learn from it all? You and I must be thankful to our God, first of all, because the only supreme God who is sovereign over all beings and things is our God! He is on our side – more accurately, He has lifted us up and brought us to Himself, and He’ll never, ever, give us up. We’re forever His and He is ours! And we call Him Father!
This reminds us of Jesus’ parables of buying and possessing the treasure and the pearl of great value. Being with the sovereign God, everything that is between life and death is ours too! Everything between rich and poor, everything between heaven and earth belongs to us! So we thank God!
Secondly, we receive everything from our sovereign, gracious Father, as His blessing. Nothing do we consider differently. Our joy and pain, success and failure, all things in between come from our God for our good. That’s because He knows all things and He loves us to the end, He gives us what is necessary and best for each of us. The Apostle Paul reveals the heart of our God in Rom. 8:32 and says, “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” He means, it is unthinkable that He, our God, would throw us anything junky, anything unnecessary, anything unhonourable, because He has purchased us with the best and highest price, that is, His Son’s blood! So, let me repeat what I said a minute ago – we receive everything and all things from God as His great and eternal blessing!
So many applications could be added, but let me say one last point, that is, we stand firm in our understanding of God’s sovereignty. The world is turbulent – no need to prove it to you because you know it well. Everyone lives in fear of uncertainty – anything could happen to anyone at any moment. But all Christians who grasp God’s sovereignty stand on the rock that never moves! This is what the Lord Jesus means that the truth will set us free and, as Gal. 5:1 says, for this freedom, Jesus has set us free!
In the sovereignty of our God, let us thank Him, receiving all things as His blessing, and stand firm and free! ***