Posted by: rcottrill | October 31, 2012

Thy Word Have I Hid in My Heart

Words: Ernest Orlando Sellers (b. Oct. 29, 1869; d. Oct. 19, 1952)
Music: Ernest Orlando Sellers

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The Wordwise Hymns link will give you a bit of information about the man who wrote this hymn exalting the inspired Word of God.

This simple gospel song emphasizes the importance of meditating upon, and memorizing, the Word of God. It’s based on Psalm 119, which is a remarkable passage of Scripture. Its 176 verses make it not only the longest psalm, but the longest chapter in the Bible. It’s divided into twenty-two sections, one for each letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Each section has eight verses, each verse beginning with the particular Hebrew letter heading the section.

The subject is the Word of God. Only vs. 122 seems to contain no direct or indirect reference to the Bible–unless we think of “surety” (guarantee) as a reference to the living Word, the Lord, who is our Surety (Heb. 7:22). In the rest, various words are used to stand for the Scriptures. Terms (depending on the English translation) such as: ways, testimonies, precepts, commandments, commands, decrees, word(s), law, judgments, promise, faithfulness, appointment, justice, righteousness (or right), ordinances, and statutes.

Why go to all this trouble, working within such a structured design? The intent of the author, in using the pattern described, seems to be to declare that God’s Word is all the truth we need for our spiritual lives, “from A to Z.” If we want to know God’s blessing, if we need cleansing, if we want to walk in holiness, if we’re looking for rest for our souls, if we want discernment and guidance, protection, comfort and hope, deliverance and victory, it is all found in the pages of Holy Scripture.

Ernest Sellers would agree, and he echoes that basic message in his hymn. CH-1 is taken from vs. 105 of the psalm; the refrain is a virtual quotation of vs. 11, which is a response to the question, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word” (vs. 9).

CH-1) Thy Word is a lamp to my feet,
A light to my path alway,
To guide and to save me from sin,
And show me the heav’nly way.

Thy Word have I hid in my heart,
That I might not sin against Thee;
That I might not sin, that I might not sin,
Thy Word have I hid in my heart.

Vs. 89-90 gave Mr. Sellers CH-2, about the enduring nature of the Word of God. This is a repeated theme in the Scriptures. The words and works of men may falter and fail, and will ultimately pass away, but the Word of God endures forever (cf. Isa. 40:6-8; I Pet. 1:24-25).

CH-2) Forever, O Lord, is Thy Word
Established and fixed on high;
Thy faithfulness unto all men
Abideth forever nigh.

CH-3 expresses a determination to praise and pray, and is a prayer for greater understanding. It seems to be inspired by vs. 44, 62, and 144 of the psalm.

Then CH-4 recognizes the One who has provided salvation. As an Old Testament saint, the psalmist prays, “Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD–Your salvation according to Your word” (vs. 41). As we turn to the New Testament, Simeon, holding the baby Jesus declares, “My eyes have seen Your salvation” (Lk. 2:30). The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the fulfilment of the psalmist’s longing.

CH-4) Through Him whom Thy Word hath foretold,
The Saviour and Morning Star,
Salvation and peace have been brought
To those who have strayed afar.

Questions:
1) What are the things for which you most often turn to the Word of God?

2) What other hymns do you know and sing that exalt the Word of God? (If you need help thinking of some, check out the Cyber Hymnal’s topical list of 211 songs here.)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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