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Divine Sovereignty in Judges

That God not only uses but also directs evil for his purpose is a difficult doctrine for many. But Scripture is filled with examples of God doing so. Evil men, in spite of themselves, serve him.


Divine sovereignty also was seen in God’s exercise of supreme control over human affairs, even over evil kings. By the free exertion of His supreme will, God strengthened an evil king to do evil:

The Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He gathered to himself the Ammonites and the Amalekites, and went and defeated Israel. And they took possession of the city of palms. —Judges 3:12b–13

According to this passage, God may strengthen unbelievers to enable them to defeat His people for His own purposes. Thus, God uses unholy people to accomplish His holy plans for the good of His people. Explaining this truth, Matthew Henry states, “God made them know that He had a variety of rods wherewith to chastise them: He strengthened Eglon king of Moab against them. . . . Here was another king of Moab, whom God strengthened against them, put power into his hands, though a wicked man, that he might be a scourge to Israel. The staff in his hand with which he beat Israel was God’s indignation.” In short, God’s sovereign control extends even to unbelievers, whom He may use for His higher purposes.

—Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 107–108.

Demonic activity is also under divine control.

In His sovereignty, God also exercised absolute authority over a demon spirit and used it to accomplish His own purposes:

Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, —Judges 9:22–23

Here, God was revealed as controlling an evil spirit to accomplish His all-wise purposes. Even evil spirits, then, are subservient to God’s sovereign will. At His own discretion, God may send demon spirits to perform His holy pleasure. Noted commentator C. F. Keil writes, “Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem, so that they became treacherous towards Him. ‘An evil spirit’ is not merely ‘an evil disposition,’ but an evil demon, which produced discord and strife, just as an evil spirit came upon Saul. . . . This evil spirit God sent to punish the wickedness of Abimelech and the Shechemites.” All this demonic activity was orchestrated by the sovereignty of God.

Ibid., 108.

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Posted  in: C F Keil · Foundations of Grace · Judges · Matthew Henry · Steve Lawson
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