The Will of Man and the King of Glory
As a young believer who has often had people say to me, "You have your whole life ahead of you," I find myself frequently wrestling in prayer over discovering God's perfect will for my life. I am sure that many can relate to this. It is a constant struggle to be content where we are and to trust God with the future. As Sinclair Ferguson wisely states, “There is no avoiding, and no substitute for, the sometimes long, arduous experience of discovering the will of God in our own lives.”1 The fact is, it takes time and effort to learn to trust God with our lives. We know that we are where we are because God has sovereignly called and placed us there--and we know that we will be where we will be because God will sovereignly lead us there--but it is only as we begin to view God in Christ as our King that we will truly learn to rest in His will.
If we truly understood that God is King, we wouldn’t “fret over evildoers” (Psalm 37:1-2) and we wouldn't put our trust in princes or depend on man for help (Psalm 146:3); rather, we as the body of Christ, would smile at the future because of our confident trust in His gracious and righteous reign (Psalm 2:4, Proverbs 31:25).
Is it even possible to cultivate such a dependent and trusting spirit in the God whose Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom (Psalm 145:13) when we are watching the world around us waste away in rebellion and futility? It most certainly is! It is when we take the time to get to know our King, to gaze upon His beauty and to put in the time and effort of cultivating intimacy with Him that we will begin to see a spirit of trust develop within us. Only then will He frame our hearts desires to His will.
Who is the King? The Psalmist tells us that He is, "The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!...The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory” (Psalm 24:8, 10)! The God whom we worship and serve is the “King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God” (1 Timothy 1:17a) who “dwells in unapproachable light”(1 Timothy 6:16). He is seated on His throne. His robe fills the temple. Cherubim surround Him and never cease to sing His praise--crying out day and night, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6).
While there is a delight in knowing God as King, there is also a painfulness in getting to know Him. As we begin to know Him, behold His glory and wonder at His majesty, He soon uncovers the sinfulness of our hearts (Luke 5:1-8, see esp. v. 8). We come to see the many times that we fail to trust Him, worship Him as we ought and depend upon Him as our King. This is all a necessary part of our learning to grow in our dependance on Him.
He hates our sin. He is displeased, as our Father, we fail Him. But He has adopted us into His family through His own beloved Son. He has made us His children. He has clothed us with the righteous, royal robes of his Son. That He would choose to set His love upon sinful creatures like; that He would make us His “royal priesthood and His Holy nation;” and, that He would call us His children is both spiritually humbling and awe-inspiring. Why would He do this for us? The only answer is that He is the King and He does whatever He desires. In His mercy and grace, God the Father wants a bride for His Son, the King. Jonathan Edwards' summed up the purpose of God in creation, fall, redemption and consummation when he wrote:
God created the world for His Son, that He might prepare for Him a spouse or bride to bestow His love upon, so that the mutual joys between this bride and bridegroom are the end of creation.2
As Samuel Rutherford so beautifully expressed it:
The Bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face; I will not gaze at glory but on my King of grace. Not at the crown He giveth but on His pierced hand; The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.3
How ought we to respond to the work of the King of grace and glory? What can we give Him? Our King “doesn’t delight in sacrifices or [we] would give [them],” but a “broken spirit and a contrite heart” he will not despise (Psalm 51:16-17). As we gaze on the King in His beauty, delight in His wonderful works, and realize our need for Him we will begin to desire what He desires for us.
Here are three things that our King desires of us:
1. Listen to Him. No one can know the secret will of the Lord, of course; but, to neglect listening to the King reveal His will through His Word is great rebellion. I often find myself turning to the latest Christian book about godly living or resorting to the counsel of wiser women prior to turning to the words of the King in whom are “hidden all the treasures of wisdom”(Colossians 2:3). God’s word is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). No other Word is as true and effective to guide us in our lives. There is no other Counselor who Himself needed no counselor (Isaiah 40:13-14). As James Montgomery Boice so beautifully penned in his hymn "Give Praise to God:” “No one can counsel God, All-Wise or truths unveil to His sharp eyes. He marks our paths behind, before. He is our steadfast counselor.” We need His counsel and His help. May the Lord give us grace to turn to His words of wisdom in our time of need.
2. Trust Him. Everything about our King demands that we trust Him. There is no greater act of dependence than to turn to Him in faith and in prayer. It is far too easy for our foolish hearts to turn to the wisdom of the world before turning to the all-wise King for guidance. “He knows our frame and is mindful that we are dust.”(Psalm 103:14) We don’t have a King who is “unable to sympathize with our weakness”(Hebrews 4:15). He is the Son of God and Son of Man, “Born [His] people to deliver, born a child and yet a King.”4 He understands our frailty. When we remember the great humiliation that he experienced for our redemption, we are encouraged to trust him for the whole of our lives. When we remember how He stooped so low as to be born in a cattle stall, how He made His to Jerusalem on a donkey and how He subjected Himself to the crown of thorns, how can we not be convinced that He cares for us and that “He knows our need before we ask Him”(Matthew 6:8). He has already secured for us a “beautiful inheritance”(Psalm 16:6). The more we know of His Kingly character and His sovereign ways the more we will be able to utter the words: “If it pleases the King” (Esther 1:19; 3:9; 5:4, 8; 7:3; 8:5; 9:13; Neh. 2:5 and 7) as we draw near to Him in prayer.
3. Obey Him. If you are searching for God’s will for your life why wouldn’t you get to know the One who has given you life, learn what He expects of you from His Word and then do it? This is always the proper response of a person who has begun to grasp what the King has done for us. The Gospel is not that we obey to receive anything from Him. Rather, the Gospel is that we have received everything from Him and therefore we obey Him in gratitude for the plethora of His mercy and grace to us in Christ.
Do you want to know God’s will for where you are right now in your life? Then trust in Jesus. Do you want to know God’s will for your future? Then trust in Jesus. Jesus is the King who has conquered death and sin. We know that His goal is to bring many sons to Glory, to subdue all His and our enemies, and to bring glory to His name. And we know He will not rest until He is victorious. He is the King of grace and glory.
We should not rest until His will and purposes become ours. May God, our King, give us the grace to submit to His will and to wrestle with Him until we can sing in unremitting praise: “Take my will and make it thine. It shall be no longer mine. Take my heart it is thine own. It shall be thy royal throne. It shall be thy royal throne.”5
1. Sinclair Ferguson, Discovering God’s Will (Banner of Truth, 1982) p. 11.
2. Jonathan Edwards, Miscellanies: (Entry Nos. a-z, aa-zz, 1-500) (WJE Online Vol. 13), Ed. Harry S. Stout p. 374
3. An excerpt from Anne Cousin's hymn, “The Sands of Time are Sinking”
4. An excerpt from Charles Wesley’s hymn, "Come Though Long, Expected Jesus.”
5. An excerpt from Frances Havergal's hymn, "Take My Life and Let it Be."
Meghan Rayno is secretary and children's minitry coordinator at New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Richmond Hill, GA. You can read other articles that she has written at the Christward Collective here.