Posted by: rcottrill | June 22, 2012

Jehovah Tsidkenu

Words: Robert Murray McCheyne (b. May 21, 1813; d. Mar. 25, 1843)
Music: Gordon, by Adoniram Judson Gordon (b. Apr. 13, 1836; d. Feb. 2, 1895)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This wonderful seven stanza hymn was written by famed Scottish preacher Robert Murray McCheyne. Though he died shortly before his thirtieth birthday, the Lord used him to have a great impact on the church. The hymn is also called I Once Was a Stranger. The tune Gordon is the one that has traditionally been used with My Jesus, I Love Thee, but it is not the one I remember being used with McCheyne’s hymn. If you have a copy of Ira Sankey’s Sacred Songs and Solos, check out the tune used for Jehovah Tsidkenu there (#897).

The Hebrew word “Tsidkenu” (pronounced Sid-KAY-noo) is part of a messianic title. The prophesied coming One is called “the LORD our Righteousness [or Jehovah Tsidkenu]” (Jer. 23:5-6). In that glorious name is capsulized the message of the gospel. That Christ is the righteous One, and we have His perfect righteousness credited to our account by faith. He is our righteousness.

“My righteous Servant [Christ] shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities” (Isa. 53:11). “Of Him [God the Father] you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us… righteousness” (I Cor. 1:30). “Even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe” (Rom. 3:22). “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21).

The problem Pastor McCheyne identifies is that the natural man, man in his unsaved, unregenerate state, does not have the spiritual sensitivity to grasp this great truth. “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:14).

CH-1) I once was a stranger to grace and to God,
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.

What is needed is the convicting and illuminating power of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus spoke of sending Him to carry on this ministry. “I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin…because they do not believe in Me” (Jn. 16:7-9). It is a fearful thing to stand guilty before a holy God, and know that no work of ours can serve as a remedy.

CH-4) When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see—
Jehovah Tsidkenu my Saviour must be.

But it is also the work of the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to us, in all His love and saving power. As Jesus said, “He will glorify Me [pointing sinners to the Saviour]” (Jn. 16:14). It is also by the Spirit of God that we receive the new birth (Tit. 3:5-6; cf. Jn. 7:37-39).

CH-5) My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;
My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life giving and free—
Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.

CH-6) Jehovah Tsidkenu! my treasure and boast,
Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne’er can be lost;
In Thee I shall conquer by flood and by field,
My cable, my anchor, my breast-plate and shield!

1) Did you, or someone you know, go through the dramatic change of heart described in Murray McCheyne’s words:

From “…Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.”
To “…Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.”

What life changes (from what to what?) accompanied this transforming turn-around?

2) In the last line of CH-6, the author uses both a nautical and military imagery to describe what Christ means to him. How would you explain these two pictures?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. Yes, I was that person. I grew up in a Christian family, actually, my father is a minister of the gospel. But I made many wrong choices like fornication, abortion, fraud. and many other things. Including denying the Saviour. My parents prayed, spoke and engaged other people to speak to me, but i wouldn’t listen. Until one day, while I was lying in my boy friend’s room, He,(Jehovah Tsidkenu) came and spoke these tender words to me: “Trust Me.” To cut the long story short, Jehovah Tsidkenu has now become my everything, and I won’t let go until I behold His face. Amen

    • Thank you for your testimony. The Lord is certainly working in your life. And here’s a couple of things to think about. The first thing that comes to mind is Paul’s testimony: “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).

      Paul mentions a number of times some of the terrible things he’d done in the past, filled with hatred toward the Lord Jesus: taking Christians prisoner and even committing them to be executed. He could never “forget” that in the sense of having amnesia about it. But he means he was putting his focus on the future, not the past. That’s important for you as well.

      Second, the motto of the great nineteenth century preacher Charles Spurgeon was “I both hold and am held.” It’s a wonderful thing that you hold on to God, and “won’t let go.” But even more wonderful (in part, simply because He’s stronger than we are, and can hold on tighter!) is that the Lord holds tightly on to us! Each Christian is held by both the Father and the Son (Jn. 10:28-29), a double clasp, and absolutely nothing is able to separate us from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:35-39).

      God bless you as you seek to live for the Lord.


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