When Calvinists defend the Reformed doctrine of Divine Sovereignty, it is common to cite 1 Samuel 2:26 as a Scriptural example of God’s sovereign control over everything, including the so-called free-will of men. Genesis 50:20 is another passage to which appeal is made to demonstrate this doctrine. In both cases we see men freely doing evil acts, yet Scripture claiming that God Himself worked in such a way that these evil acts would be freely done, yet He would overrule them for His righteous purposes.
Without a doubt, the sovereignty of God in the reprobation of sinners is a thorny issue. But when I look at Scripture, I find examples of God’s sovereignty of evil men’s actions that are more compelling than the aforementioned two passages.
First, of course is the Samson and Delilah incident. Samson may have been self-absorbed, but he wasn’t stupid. So how do we account for the fact that he continued to live with Delilah as she “vexed him to death?” She tried to have him assassinated on many occasions, yet he finally confides in her regarding the secret of his strength. He had no reason to believe that she had any noble intentions for asking such a question. She had the gall to say, “You don’t love me,” to a man she had tried to get rubbed out! Samson should’ve been the one saying that. Yet in the face of a mountain of evidence that she wanted him dead, despite days of nagging and betrayal, Samson willingly tells her the secret he cannot doubt that she wants to use for his destruction. If this doesn’t demonstrate God’s sovereignty, nothing does.
Next, there is the infamous dividing of Israel into two kingdoms. When Solomon was still alive and reigning, the prophet Ahijah and the seer Iddo had warned that Jeroboam would lead Israel in a revolt that would divide the kingdom, leaving only a remnant to David’s descendants. Rehoboam gets faced with an opportunity to use his free-will to override this dire prophecy. He could say what the people wanted to hear and thus maintain rule over the whole nation. What does he do? Does he listen to the elders, thus averting certain disaster? Does he force God to regroup and implement Plan B? No. He listens to the stupid advice of his buddies and causes Israel to revolt against him exactly as God had said.
Thirdly, there is the story of Ahab and Micaiah in 1 Kings 22. Micaiah gives a clear, unmistakable prophetic message from God that Ahab will be killed in battle Ramoth-gilead. Not only that, but he explains that a lying sprit in the mouths of false prophets will tell Ahab to go out into battle. Moreover, Ahab knows that his prophets are merely yesmen and that Micaiah is a true prophet of God. In the face of all of this, what does Ahab do? Does he stay home to show that he is the master of his own destiny? Does he stay home to show that his will is free enough to make God change His plans? No. He goes into battle and gets killed, just as God said.
When Arminians wax eloquent about so-called free-will, or when Open theists speak of God being forced to guess about man’s acts and regroup when we catch Him off guard, I wonder if they have ever read their Bibles.