Posted by: rcottrill | January 14, 2013

I Know That My Redeemer Liveth

Words: Jessie H. Brown Pounds (b. Aug. 31, 1861; d. Mar. 3, 1921)
Music: Hannah, by James Henry Filmore, Sr. (b. June 1, 1849; d. Feb. 8, 1936)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The words of Job in Job 19:25, forming the title and first line of this song, are significant to the story of Job himself, and to all of us. It’s not surprising, therefore, that there’ve been a number of hymns by the same name. The Cyber Hymnal lists an excellent one by Samuel Medley, and a couple of others. The text is also used by George Frederick Handel, in his Messiah. Jessie Brown’s song was published in 1893, as part of an Easter cantata; it was first printed in a hymn book in 1896 (the year of her marriage to Pastor John Pounds).

As noted above, the opening declaration of this hymn is significant in the book of Job. He had been enduring the most terrible and excruciating trials, likely for several months. Not knowing the involvement of Satan, Job could only think that God had somehow changed toward him. But this made no sense. He was a godly man who walked with God before his suffering began and was greatly blessed. He did not depart from this path in a way that would turn God against Him. (And the Lord agreed with Job about that–cf. Job 1:1, 2:3).

Could it be that God’s blessings are somehow arbitrary and random? Or that God is, after all, unjust? Job is like a man lost in a cave, trying desperately to find a way out. In soaring arguments he explores one possible option after another, but without a resolution. And it is important to note that rather than rebelling against the Lord in his misery, he is desperately trying to find Him.“Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,” says Job (13:15).

His “friends,” of course, with their narrow theology, blame him of some great wickedness (e.g. 15:5-6; 22:5). They adhere to a theory of instant justice. Do right, and God will bless you–right away. Do wrong, and God will punish you, immediately. When Job protests his innocence, they rant and rail against him for being proud and deceitful–and demonstrably wicked.

However, Job is far beyond them in his understanding of the ways of God. No narrow “instant justice” for him. He believes in the afterlife, and the resurrection of the dead. If he is not able to meet with God and find answers to his questions in this life, he is confident he will be able to do so, and find justice, in the next. It is in this context that he declares:

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed [or, after my skin worms destroy this body, KJV], this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another [i.e. not as a stranger, but as a friend]” (Job 19:25-27).

Jessie Brown is confident in the Lord too. But she looks at the key passage in Job from a different perspective, because she stands (as we all do now) between the first and second comings of Christ. Therefore, her assurance concerns the coming triumphant return of her Redeemer as King of kings and Lord of Lords.

CH-1) I know that my Redeemer liveth,
And on the earth again shall stand;
I know eternal life He giveth,
That grace and power are in His hand.

The basis of her assurance is the trustworthy Word of the Lord. The Lord Jesus has promised, “I will come again” (Jn. 14:3; cf. Rev. 22:12, 20).

CH-2) I know His promise never faileth,
The Word He speaks, it cannot die;
Though cruel death my flesh assaileth,
Yet I shall see Him by and by.

Finally, Miss Brown turns to the pledge of the Lord Jesus in John 14:2-3 (cf. 17:24), that He is preparing heavenly dwelling places for His own, confident that we shall dwell with Him forever. Whatever trials and testings we face now, they will one day end in the glory of His presence.

CH-3) I know my mansion He prepareth,
That where He is there I may be;
O wondrous thought, for me He careth,
And He at last will come for me.

1) How do you know that your Redeemer lives–what gives you that confidence?

2) Trials are painful. Yet, we are assured that God works in them for our good (Rom. 8:28). What kind of good comes from them?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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