Posted by: rcottrill | September 2, 2013

Each Step I Take

Words: William Elmo Mercer (b. Feb. 15, 1932)
Music: William Elmo Mercer

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Elmo Mercer)

Graphic Elmo MercerNote: The Wordwise Link will give you some biographical information on Mr. Mercer. He worked in a bank in his early years, but was writing songs even then. Soon, his gift for making music also led him into arranging songs for others, and eventually into the publishing business as an editor.

Each Step I Take was written when Mr. Mercer was nineteen (in 1951), and published two or three years later. It became his first success, and has remained his most popular number. Country and western singer/songwriter, Otis Dewey (“Slim”) Whitman was the first artist, of many, to record it. The fact that it has been recorded by quite a number of secular artists may suggest that there’s not much spiritual meat to it. In a way, that’s true. Nevertheless, it has a timeless and important message.

This song seems to allude to Israel’s journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land, making a symbolic application of that to the individual Christian’s pilgrimage, through the wilderness of this world to his heavenly home. There will always be struggles and painful trials here. But the Lord is with us and will lead us safely above. Let’s take a look at what each stanza adds to this theme.

Stanza 1. That the Lord goes before His people to prepare the way is a blessed truth. It was experienced by the nation of Israel all through their wilderness journey.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you….And the LORD, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed” (Deut. 31:6, 8).

Not only does God go before, He is also with us. For Israel, God revealed His presence up ahead in the form of a pillar of cloud and fire, to reassure them (Exod. 13:21). When the people were threatened by enemies, King Hezekiah assured them, “With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God” (II Chron. 32:8). In Mercer’s words, “Oh, what joy to walk with Him each day.”

Stanza 2 realistically reminds us that things are not ideal–either as to our inner ability to deal with life, or outwardly with life itself. At times we can “feel [our] faith begin to waver.” That’s an inner problem, and the Lord can strengthen our faith (Mk. 9:24; Lk. 17:5; cf. Phil. 4:13). But there are difficult circumstances to face as well–“when up ahead [we] see a chasm wide.” What then? Then too we need to turn in faith to the Lord, and seek the grace to provide inner strengthening and outward aid. We can pray, “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:13; cf. II Cor. 12:7-10).

Stanza 3. In spite of our own weakness, and in spite of the troubles and trials we face in life, we can be assured of ultimate victory. In Christ, we have life eternal.

“This is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life (I Jn. 5:11-12; cf. Jn. 3:16).

Nothing and no one can separate the believer from the Lord’s eternal love (Jn. 10:28; Rom. 8:35-39). We can be assured that one day He “will lead [us] to the promised land” Mercer’s way of speaking of the heavenly kingdom (Jn. 14:3; I Thess. 4:16-17). The last line of the refrain is both true and profound, and should continue to be a great encouragement to us, through all of our life’s journey, be it long or short. “Each step [we] take just leads [us] closer home.”

1) Each step I take my Saviour goes before me,
And with His loving hand He leads the way,
And with each breath I whisper “I adore Thee;”
Oh, what joy to walk with Him each day.

Each step I take I know that He will guide me;
To higher ground He ever leads me on.
Until some day the last step will be taken.
Each step I take just leads me closer home.

1) What are the main points of encouragement you find in this hymn?

2) Is it a song you would use in your church? (Why? Or why not?)



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