Psalm 139:16

Psalm 139:16 (see also Jeremiah 1:5; Acts 17:26; Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11; Revelation 13:8)
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians comments: “God’s decision about the days of life granted to him seems to be what is in view. This affirms that the span of our lives are fixed by God. It does not say how He does that, i.e., whether God sets those days contingently or unconditionally. It does not say whether God sets the span of our days in consideration of human action and our experiences (for example, He knows someone is going to shoot you and allows that to happen, or knows someone is going to try and shoot you and decides to prevent them from doing that because of His plan for your life, etc.) or as something He scripts and then brings to pass. No one dies apart from God allowing it. Indeed, nothing can happen unless God allows it. (Job 14:5 seems to go along these lines.) If this verse has to do with God’s more specific plan for our lives, than the length of our days, it would be mentioned in the psalm to show God’s intimate care and concern for us (a main emphasis of the psalm). Compare the fact that God prepares good works in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10). In light of all the talk of creation of the psalmist preceding v.16, God’s decision about the days of life granted to him seems to be what is in view. It may well be that ‘they were all written’ refers to the various aspects of the psalmist referred to in vv. 13-16 as being created by God. Writing them in his book may refer to God’s decision about those things. Then ‘days were formed when none of them existed’ may poetically embody the same basic point, as is typical of Hebrew poetry, what is known as synonymous parallelism. God forming and creating and knowing about the psalmist in the womb is roughly equivalent to Him forming his days before one of them came to be. In any case, there simply is not enough in this verse to require a deterministic reading. And it reads quite comfortably with Arminian theology. Although, determinism does not go along too comfortably with the psalmist’s prayer at the end-- vv. 23-24, since all that he refers to, including his anxious thoughts and hurtful ways, would be caused by God, and his way would be already unalterably determined.) But to press it into service for actually supporting determinism seems to be overreaching.” (SEA)


























John Calvin writes: “But where men acknowledge their purpose and the issue of all things to be governed by the providence of God, admit fearfully with Jeremiah (10:23) : I know, O Lord, that the way of a man is not in himself, nor is it for man to direct his footsteps; thinking like Solomon (Prov 20:24) : The steps of a man are from the Lord, and what man will dispose his way?, there they subject themselves wholly to the Lord and depend upon Him.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.166, emphasis mine)

Proverbs 20:24: Man’s steps are ordained by the LORD, how then can man understand his way?

Jeremiah 10:23: I know, O LORD, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.

Acts 17:26-28:He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.
















Question:  What is the “book” in question?

Answer:  The Book of Life. Arminianism teaches that God has a wonderful plan for our life, and that God indeed guides and directs our steps. However, Arminians reject any notion that teaches that God guides our steps into sin, or that God ordains sinful choices for man. Arminianism teaches that God foreknows our heart and desires, and will use our own bad choices in order to achieve His will, but not that God will ever cause our bad choices, in order to bring about His will.
Question:  What is the Providence of God?

Answer:  The way in which God governs His creation. While God never tempts, He does test. (James 1:13) God determines what things we will face in life, and provides the way to follow Him. 1st Corinthians 10:13 states: No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Arminians reject the notion that God predetermines everyone’s choices. Arminians believe that God uses the evil intentions of others, through His Middle Knowledge, but never causes their evil intentions.