The firm foundation of God's promises

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This is a favorite hymn. I memorized it in college, and it comes back to me when I need it.

It has been called a "hymn-sermon." The first verse is a call to Christians to remember God's promises, firm foundation for our faith. The remaining verses paraphrase and combine various promises in Scripture, including Phil. 4:12-13, Deut. 33:25, Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 43:1-2, 2 Cor. 12:9, and Hebrews 13:5. (Text via TulipGirl.)

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
to you that for refuge to Jesus have fled?

"In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty's vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be."

"Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed!
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
my grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
that soul, though all hell shall endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no, never, no, never forsake."

I've changed the subtitle of the blog, for the moment, to ἀπορούμενοι ἀλλ' οὐκ ἐξαπορούμενοι. That is from 2 Cor. 4:8. It means "perplexed, but not despairing":

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair....

There's a nice parallelism in the Greek:

ἐν παντὶ θλιβόμενοιἀλλ' οὐστενοχωρούμενοι
ἀπορούμενοιἀλλ' οὐκἐξαπορούμενοι

The two words, ἀπορούμενοι and ἐξαπορούμενοι, are related -- just the added prefix ek- ("out of" or "beyond") in the second, which seems intended to intensify the meaning from "to have no way out; to be at a loss" to "to be utterly at a loss." We don't know which way to go, but we haven't given up hope that the Lord will make a way.

The second of the two occurs in a slightly different form in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11:

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

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2 Comments

Roy said:

A favorite of mine, too, Mike. Especially with adeste fideles as the tune. A hymn with meat, sinew, and muscles. Men can sing it. What a contrast to the, as one friend put it, estrogen soaked pap of some of the so called contemporary stuff. No wonder How Firm a Foundation has stood the test of time, remaining as a favorite for the maybe 10 generations since it was first sung.

georgie said:

I am visiting all the blogs nom'd for the 2008 Okie Blog awards...just wanted to say CONGRATS on your nom!!!
http://okiedoke.com/ok/08awards/index.html

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 19, 2009 11:29 PM.

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