Posted by: rcottrill | December 28, 2012

Just When I Need Him Most

Words: William Charles Poole (b. Apr. 14, 1875; d. Dec. 24, 1949)
Music: Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (b. Aug. 18, 1856; d. Sept. 15, 1932)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: William Poole was a pastor with the Methodist church in America. He also wrote quite a number of hymns, including this one in 1907. It was his very first attempt, and he sent the text to Charles Gabriel to fit it with a tune.

Being properly prepared for a particular experience, good or bad, is a great thing. But being human, and with our limited knowledge of what lies ahead, sometimes we aren’t. Take a simple example. Suppose you are walking through a park, and you see a cute little child playing with her dog. You pause for a moment to watch them, as the child laughs in delight, and you think, “Oh, if only I had my camera with me!”

In a more serious vein, the Bible reminds us, “You do not know what will happen tomorrow” (Jas. 4:14). Unexpected blessings and unanticipated trials may lie ahead. How can we be equipped to make use of the one, and cope with the other? For the Christian, the most basic answer is that the Lord is with us, every step of the way, and we can look to Him for what we need. He is “a very present help….The Lord of hosts [Commander of all the armies of heaven] is with us” (Ps. 46:1).

Annie Hawks gave us the hymn I Need Thee Every Hour, and I’m sure that expresses the thought of each of us, as we consider the future. And “He’s only a prayer away,” says another gospel song. “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him” (Ps. 145:18).

William Poole approaches the same subject, but in a slightly different way. The song is not complicated. It has a simple message, and it’s simply put. But it’s important. In the four stanzas of his song, Pastor Poole reassures us by looking at several aspects of his subject. First of all:

CH-1) Just when I need Him, Jesus is near,
Just when I falter, just when I fear;
Ready to help me, ready to cheer,
Just when I need Him most.

There are times when we’re anxious and afraid, times when we falter and stumble on the path of life. But the Lord is “ready to help [us], ready to cheer.” The fearful disciples could testify to that. They were caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. But the Lord Jesus came to them in the storm, walking on the sea [showing His power over it] and called to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Good cheer. It’s a phrase that expresses courage, confidence, and comfort.

CH-2 reminds us that “Jesus is true,” meaning faithful to His promises. He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). We can count on that.

CH-2) Just when I need Him, Jesus is true,
Never forsaking all the way through;
Giving for burdens pleasures anew,
Just when I need Him most.

CH-3 reminds us of the power of God. He has the ability to lift our burdens, and give us a song of joy, even in trying circumstances. In Acts 16:25 we see missionaries Paul and Silas singing hymns of praise in a prison cell. And in the book of Philippians, written from prison, Paul has a lot to say about joy and rejoicing. There’s reference to it in every single chapter (Phil. 1:4, 18, 25, 26; 2:2, 16, 17, 18, 26; 3:1, 3; 4:1, 4).

In CH-4 the author sums up his message with “He [Christ] is my all.” He watches over me and He answers prayer when I call upon Him. As Hebrews tells us, Christ is our great High Priest in heaven. He sympathizes with us in our weakness and distress, and we can obtain mercy and grace for the asking (Heb. 4:14-16).

CH-4) Just when I need Him, He is my all,
Answering when upon Him I call;
Tenderly watching lest I should fall,
Just when I need Him most.

1) In what particular circumstance did you find the Lord a “very present help” in the past week?

2) If you were adding a stanza to Pastor Poole’s hymn, what would its subject be? “Just when I need Him…” what?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. Just when i need Him, He is my friend
    constantly holding me by His hand
    Always attending to my heart cry
    Just when i need him most

    • Amen!


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