Who Writes My Days

A question was raised to me the other day…

“Will someone explain to me how this fits into the whole “free will” argument….. if all my days have already been written before one of them came to be, how, exactly, am I suppose to write them myself?”

Psalm 139: 15, 16 (New International Version)
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

I thought I would share my response, and see what everyone else thought…

Psalm 139:15-16


I really want to go under that assumption that you might be looking for the Truth. After all, “to give truth to him who loves it not is only to give him more plentiful material for misinterpretation,” so said George MacDonald. Either way, it’s good, fun thinking for me to do.


I don’t expect to have the solid, final answer, not to have it all figured out. I don’t expect this answer to be the one that convinces you otherwise, but hopefully, if nothing else, to get you to think about it more. “Seek and you shall find.” Would love to hear what everyone thinks. Sure is a sticky question, but here’s my thought on the matter…


“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (NIV)

So they are. If you were to write an autobiographical book about your whole life, beginning to end, before you were dead, and knew the future and how it would end… would you not be seen as ‘rigging’ the future in a way? If you had certain plans that needed to happen in this life and you had all power, would you not see to it that you made people certain ways, while still giving them the will to choose through life? You already knew how they would choose, but you still give them the choice. You see, it all gets very hairy if you dig too deep. Let’s take it from one angle…


This nature of question, I believe really boils down to a common argument or question.


Do we have Free Will or are we Predestined?


I suppose that verse 15 is not the core of the question, as it only mentions the fact that when we were made we were not hidden from God. He knew this was going on. Let us dismiss this verse from the rest of the discussion, along with the first line of the next verse, as it is in the same sentence. “When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.” (NIV)


Defining the terms:

First, you really have to define the terms. What exactly do you mean by ‘free will’ and ‘predestination’?

Merriam-Webster‘s online dictionary describes these as the following:

Predestine – to destine, decree, determine, appoint, or settle beforehand

Predestinate – destined, fated, or determined beforehand

One might also look at ‘destiny.’

Destiny – a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power or agency

Free Will(1) voluntary choice or decision, (2) freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention


Clearly these two contradict each other by definition of Websters. I suppose if you were to go strictly by these definitions, then no, we do not have free will. Question answered.


However, most of us describe ‘free will’ as something that is simply ‘choice’, and that’s about it. Do we have a choice in the decisions we make?


For example: If I do not eat or drink anything for 3 days, then my body is screaming at me to eat something. If I do not, I will die. If I want to live, then I must eat something. If I want to die, I can continue doing what I am doing, and not eat.

If I take the definition of ‘free will’ as freedom to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or divine intervention, then in fact I do not have the ‘free will’ to not eat. My body violates my free will by requiring me to eat and live. I have the free will to eat or not eat, but on the other hand, it is violated because I will die if I do not eat, which really doesn’t leave me much of a rational, sane choice in the end because we want to live.


Dr. Jerry Nelson once said, “Your choices are free because you make them (no one coerced you) AND your choices are determined because they are driven by your desires.”


Perhaps, the above is what we mean by free will generally. We have a freedom of choice. We can choose right or wrong, eating or not eating, what channel to watch, and so on. We cannot choose what other people do to us, what happens to us if we get shot, or fall off a cliff or some other uncontrollable situation as such.


Let’s assume we are to go by these common definitions, and carry on…


Bible Translations: Psalm 139:16

Literal Translation of the Holy Bible (LITV): “Your eyes saw my embryo; and in Your book all my members were written the days they were formed, and not one was yet among them.”

Young’s Literal Translation (YLT): “Mine unformed substance Thine eyes saw, And on Thy book all of them are written, The days they were formed — And not one among them.”

King James Version (KJV): “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”

New International Version (NIV): “…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”


As you can see, there are subtle differences in each translation given. With this information, we must be careful to what we read, and not always ‘jump to conclusions’ when something sounds strange. Not always can we just explain it away though.


Free Will or Predestination… Yes

If we have the free will to choose God or not, then we can and will go to Hell if we do not choose Him (like death if we do not eat food).

If we do not have the free will to choose whether or not we want God, then we are quite possibly a bunch of marionettes running around on this green earth for Gods sole entertainment. This could not be.

Why would Love, as one example, be a factor then, in a “staged play” of Gods? One cannot be ‘forced’ to love. We cannot love others or God. God could not love us.


Dr. Ravi Zacharias once said, “If you are determined in going in a certain direction; if you are bent upon silencing the voice of God in your life, you know what God will do? He’ll step aside and second your motion. If that’s what you really want. Because He cannot violate your Will and still call you free… If I am a free being, He cannot overrule my freedom in the most ultimate sense, and still call me free. He can lure, He can rule, He can plead, He can beg, He can even put the pressure on, but He cannot violate your will and still call you free.” (emphasis mine)


I suppose there is no real set answer to all of this, and we could discuss in circles all day long. I do believe there are factors in both that go to play, and I could go on for another couple pages about it, but for now, I won’t. We cannot answer away every verse in the Bible, nor explain why God does some of the things He does. Some things happen that God has put a sort of ‘forced play’ on, because they need to happen.


God Knows All

God knows all, see’s the future, all that has been and will be.

God Knows All + God Has All Power

With that sort of knowledge put along side the all powerful aspect,

God Knows All + God Has All Power + Love

And add that to the fact that He is a loving God,

God Knows All + God Has All Power + Love + Justice

And the fact that He is a Just God,

God Knows All + God Has All Power + Love + Justice + …

Added to all the other factors of God that play into this, who are we to ask God ‘why’ when certain things happen really?


Like a parent who teaches the child to make the right decisions, gives their child a choice and an opportunity to learn from their mistakes, intervenes where necessary but will not always “make the choice for you” like when you were a child… perhaps so is God like to a degree.


There is a story in the Bible about a man that lost everything. Nothing that happened to him was of his own doing. Most of his family died, most of his possessions were lost, and friends abandoned him. He was helpless. He asked God ‘why’ so many times, and he felt betrayed by God because he didn’t seem to have much choice in the matter. Finally, God responded…with a staggering 64+ questions back to this man, showing him that God is God, and man is but mere man. “Then Job answered the LORD and said, I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.” Job 49:1-4 (NASB, emphasis mine)

What do you think?

*This post is a previous post from the old blog A World Between, posted in 2008

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3 thoughts on “Who Writes My Days

  1. Our theology should encompass both free will AND predestination because both ideas are explored in scripture. To say only one or the other explains our faith journey is to engage in prideful shortsightedness. Taken to the extreme, on the one hand God creates people simply for destruction which discounts His love. On the other, to say we are completely free is to assert our own power over God’s, thus discounting His omnipotence.

  2. A philosophical consideration such at this could seemingly, never truly be explained adequately enough to produce a conclusive answer. This much you acknowledge in your opening words wherein you make it clear that you “don’t expect to have the solid, final answer”.

    Thus, it may be best to offer a further perspective to this ‘conundrum’ of sorts, by recalling the incident of Judas’s betrayal of Christ (Luke 22:3-6 & Matthew 26:47-50).

    Firstly, we recall how “Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve” (Luke 22:3, NIV). At this point, we may consider whether this was ‘as God intended it to be’, and thus not the will of Judas per se? If it was in some part Judas’ will (at this point), then his own sinfulness, was to be his eventual undoing. At this point, let us also ask ourselves whether Judas’ decision was a conscious decision to distance himself from his Lord?

    A little later, recall how “Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus” (Luke 22:4, NIV). At this point, we may ask whether this was Satan’s will acting outside of Judas’ will? Or, was it also Judas’ will, in part, that prompted him to speak with the chief priests and officers of the temple guard?

    Then, let us recall how Judas, not long thereafter, “consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present (Luke 22:6, NIV). At this point, we may again ask whether this was Satan’s will acting outside of Judas’ will? Or, was it again partly Judas’ will to consent and watch for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present?

    Then, sometime later, “Judas … arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people” Matthew 26:47, NIV). At this point, we may again ask whether this was Satan’s will acting outside of Judas’ will? Or, was it again partly Judas’ will?

    Then, as we know, Judas’ intention finally became a manifest reality when Judas arranged to betray Christ with “a signal”, by saying “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kiss him (Matthew 26:48-49, NIV). At this point, we may again ask whether this was Satan’s will acting outside of Judas’ will? Or, was it again partly Judas’ will?

    Finally, as we note from Jesus’ words, the Christ finally said “Do what you came for, friend” (Matthew 26:50). Seemingly, Christ knew all along!

    Now, the conundrum is this: from Christ’s words, it is apparent Christ knew this was what Judas was to do. But, how did you respond to the repeated question whether this was Satan’s will, per se? Or, were Judas’ decisions his own (as influenced by Satan will)?

    As many will argue, Satan’s will is ultimately a response to our own decisions and actions too. Thus, whichever way you look at it, if Judas’ thoughts and actions were all Satan’s doing, or alternatively, a mere combination of his own and Satan’s will, then Judas’ fate was predestined because Judas chose to ‘go with Satan’ and be separated from Jesus.

    Therefore, in Judas’ case, Judas had the option of ‘remaining close to God’ and by so doing, he may have reversed his decision to betray His Lord, in which case, proximity to Christ in dedication, love, prayer and commitment would have swayed Judas’ thoughts and actions in the other direction; namely, not to betray Christ.

    I assert therefore, that when we are inclined to distance ourselves from a close relationship with our Lord, our actions may be affected by our own sinfulness. Thus, we may be more inclined to ‘sin’ and the consequences of our sin may result in a predestined outcome of our thoughts and actions due to our separation from God.

    Similarly, I also wish to assert that if, on the other hand, we remain in close union and in a love-relationship with our Lord, our actions will be affected by our deep, committed love for our Saviour. In this case, we are thus more inclined to ‘please God’ and the consequences of our thoughts and actions may be attributed to our ‘free will’ to Love God, and remain close to him.

    So, in a nutshell, I prefer to restate my viewpoint on the conundrum of free will versus predestination like this:
    When pursuing Satan’s will (i.e. we remain separated from God). Thus, predestination will lead us towards thoughts and actions that are the antithesis of the the Will of God for our Lives.
    However, when we remain in close union with our Saviour, our free will will enable us to consider thoughts and actions that are in accordance with the Will of God for our Lives.
    Ultimately, God always knows—well in advance—what our future will be if we:
    1. choose to remain separated from Him; or,
    2. if we prefer to remain ‘in Him’ (i.e. in close relationship with Him).

  3. I do not believe the two ideas contradict each other. God gives us free will AND He predestined us. One idea pertains to human mortal perspective, the other pertains to God’s all knowing view of the universe. He is the ultimate creator, the creator of time itself. Thus, He sees the past, present, and future simultaneously, all of history woven together in one large tapestry. He predestined certain individuals for certain things knowing what choices they would choose before they even made them. Because we only see time in a linear sense, and only one tiny thread of the whole tapestry, we do not see the big picture. In our myopic mortal linear point of view, we have freedom of choice. But to God, who already knows all things and has seen our whole lives from birth to death and beyond, our destinies are already prestined.

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