Posted by: rcottrill | December 28, 2011

We Plow the Fields and Scatter

Words: Matthias Claudius (b. Aug. 15, 1740; d. Jan. 21, 1815)
Music: Wir Pflugen (or Dresden), by Johann Abraham Peter Schulz (b. Mar. 31, 1747; d. June 10, 1800)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

This robust harvest hymn makes the point that those who garden and farm are working in cooperation with the Lord, and are dependent on His part in the process. In the beginning, “The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden” (Gen. 2:8), and surely it must have been the most beautiful garden ever seen on earth. But He did it, without man’s help, and before Adam had ever seen the garden.

However, in sovereign grace, the Lord drew man into a partnership with Himself. He “took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it (vs. 15). This, incidentally shows us that having to work, in itself, is not a result of the fall. Only things like wearing weariness in labour, frustration, danger and death, come with the curse (Gen. 3:17-19). Even on into eternity, “His servants shall serve Him” (Rev. 22:3).

My wife and I presently live in a rural community, surrounded by fields of grain and other crops. Though we do not farm ourselves, we’re continually reminded of how important it is for the Lord to send the sunshine and rain at the proper time.

CH-1) We plow the fields, and scatter the good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand;
He sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain.

All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love.

The Apostle Paul makes use of farming, and that divine-human cooperation, to illustrate a similar process in our service for Christ and the proclamation of the gospel.

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field” (I Cor. 3:6-9).

In our Christian service, as in our work in the field or the garden, we depend on the wisdom and help of Almighty God. The words of the Lord Jesus, in another context, apply here: “Without Me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).

CH-2) He only is the Maker of all things near and far;
He paints the wayside flower, He lights the evening star;
The winds and waves obey Him, by Him the birds are fed;
Much more to us, His children, He gives our daily bread.

If we own a farm, we may be able to pay a hired hand–indeed, we’re obligated to do so. But what can we render to the Lord for His abundant mercies? Claudius says we can offer Him our thanks, and the humble submission of our thankful hearts. Our gratitude is a kind of fruit as well, as it springs up from within us. “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15).

CH-3) We thank Thee, then, O Father, for all things bright and good,
The seed time and the harvest, our life, our health, and food;
Accept the gifts we offer, for all Thy love imparts,
And what Thou most desirest, our humble, thankful hearts.

1) In what area of your life are you most conscious of this partnership between the Lord and yourself?

2) What would you say to someone who argues that he’s a “self-made man”? (In this regard, consider the Lord’s admonition to Israel, Deut. 8:13-18.)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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