Posted by: rcottrill | April 29, 2013

God Understands

Words: Oswald Jeffrey Smith (b. Nov. 8, 1889; d. Jan. 25, 1986)
Music: Bentley DeForest Ackley (b. Sept. 27, 1872; d. Sept. 3, 1958)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Oswald Smith)

Note: The tragic incident that led to the writing of this hymn is recounted in the Wordwise Hymns link. It’s an example of how the Lord can take something that is learned in one situation and apply it more widely, to the blessing of more still. Many have used this song at funeral services, and Dr. Smith reported that on one occasion it was even used of God to save a radio executive from suicide.

The actual phrase, “God understands” is used once in the Bible (Job 28:23, NKJV), where Job explains that God knows where true wisdom is to be found (cf. vs. 20; and see Prov. 2:6). “The LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts” (I Chron. 28:9), and “His understanding is infinite” (Ps. 147:5).

It’s a word that reflects both intelligence and discernment. The Lord not only knows the struggles of our inmost hearts, but He understands why we are going through these things, and what to do about them. When you combine that with the dozens of references in Scripture to the mercy and compassion of God, it is a great encouragement to know He understands.

“You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth” (Ps. 86:15). “Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23). “He who trusts in the LORD, mercy shall surround him” (Ps. 32:10). “Remember, O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, for they are from of old” (Ps. 25:6). “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life” (Ps. 23:6).

At least in part, it was His understanding of human suffering that led the Lord Jesus to weep at the tomb of Lazarus (Jn. 11:35), and He grieves for us today, when we go through such things. The Bible urges us to bring our burdens and our anxious cares to the Lord (Ps. 55:22; I Pet. 5:7), because in Him we have one who understands, having gone through similar trials while he was on earth (Heb. 4:14-16).

1) God understands your sorrow,
He sees the falling tear,
And whispers, “I am with thee,”
Then falter not, nor fear.

He understands your longing,
Your deepest grief He shares;
Then let Him bear your burden,
He understands, and cares.

It has often been a great reassurance to me that the Lord fully understands how weak I am. There are times when I make more demands on myself that God intended me to bear. But, “as a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103:13-14).

God also understands the power of the devil, and His malicious schemes against us (Jn. 8:44; I Pet. 5:8). He has provided spiritual armour to protect us (Eph. 6:10-17), and a strategy for victory (I Pet. 5:9; Jas. 4:7). The Lord Jesus Himself was tempted by Satan (Matt. 4:1-11), and He repeatedly resisted Him by standing upon the truth of the Word of God (“the Sword of the Spirit,” Eph. 6:17).

3) God understands your weakness,
He knows the tempter’s pow’r;
And He will walk beside you
However dark the hour.

1) What aspects of God’s understanding of you are sobering? What aspects are encouraging?

2) Can you testify to a recent experience of God’s comfort and encouragement that equipped you to be a blessing to someone else (cf. II Cor. 1:3-4)?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Oswald Smith)


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