Few attributes of God bring as much comfort to us in our suffering than omniscience. Knowing that God knows everything in the past, present, and future assures us of His providential care and the wise outworking of His perfect will and fuels our worship. The writer of Psalm 139 practiced worshipful surrender as he praised God for the specificity of His knowledge, “You…are intimately acquainted with all my ways” (Ps 139:3).
In his magnum opus, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Dutch Reformer Wilhelmus à Brakel writes of the infinite knowledge of God, which originates from Himself and flows out of His eternal decrees and is, therefore, independent of man and the choices of his will.
The knowledge of God…neither has its origin in the creature nor does it flow from the creature to God; rather it flows from God Himself to the creature. God does not become acquainted with things after the fact by virtue of their existence and function; rather, He knows matters in advance so that they will exist and function according to His decree. God does not decree His workmanship by considering cause and effect. He does not acquire His knowledge concerning His creature through the process of research and rational deduction; rather, He knows them since He has decreed that they should exist and operate.
The theologian then draws attention to the extent of God’s foreknowledge far beyond general events to the specific details of our lives. “God clearly testifies in His Word that He does not merely have a general knowledge concerning matters, but a specific knowledge of each individual matter.”
Four Examples of the Specificity of God’s Foreknowledge
- The Lord observes and is cognizant of all things, both great and small. He knows the heart of kings (Prov 21:1) and takes notice of every sparrow (Matt 10:29).
- He is cognizant of all good and evil things, “Thou has set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance” (Ps 90:8).
- The Lord is cognizant of all secret things, “Thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men” (1 Ki 8:39); “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man” (Ps 94:11); “for He knew what was in man” (Jn 2:25).
- The Lord has an infallible knowledge of all future things which will transpire due to the exercise of man’s free will, and therefore knows all things which will occur relative to man. God knows everything, for all His works are known to Him from eternity and are naked and open before Him (Isa 48:8; Ps 139:1-2; Jer 1:5; Ezek 11:5; Jn 13:1, and others).
As we counsel one another in times of suffering we may give hope to one another by means of reminder concerning the infinite knowledge of our good and wise God.