Posted by: rcottrill | November 24, 2014

What God Hath Promised

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Words: Annie Johnson Flint (b. Dec. 24, 1866; d. Sept. 8, 1932)
Music: William Marion Runyon (b. Jan. 21, 1870; d. July 29, 1957)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This beautiful gospel song from 1919 (sometimes titled God Hath Not Promised) was written by a woman who knew great suffering for many years. Both her poetic skill and her spiritual depth can be seen in her books of verse. For a bit more about her, see the biographical note in the Wordwise Hymns link.

I don’t care for the oddly jumpy tune written by William Runyon. In 1952, Alfred Smith provided another tune in the old Favorites Four songbook, if you can find a copy. It is written as a duet, and works very well. I have a recording I made over fifty years ago, of a friend and his adult daughter singing it. A short time after, he would die of cancer, so the lovely rendering of the song has an added poignancy for me.

After the conquest of the Promised Land, elderly Joshua said to the people:

“You know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed? (Josh. 23:14).

Centuries later King Solomon made a similar statement. The king said: “Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised” (I Kgs. 8:56).

These statements could just as easily be made today. God keeps His Word. In fact, that is a declaration that no one ever could accurately and honestly refute, down the ages of time since the beginning until today.

Almighty God is “a God of truth” (Deut. 32:4). He “cannot lie” (Tit. 1:2). His “Word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). “All the promises of God in Him [Christ] are Yes, and in Him Amen [true and faithful], to the glory of God through us” (II Cor. 1:20). Christ declared, “I am..the truth” (Jn. 14:6), and in Revelation He is called “Faithful and True” (Rev. 19:11).

Since these things are abundantly and universally so, whenever we are disappointed in God, or believe He has not kept His Word, it is we who are mistaken. We have built up expectations that are not in accordance with His Word of promise. Or, we have failed to interpret the promises of Scripture properly, taking into account the historical context and so on.

The “Prosperity Gospel” folks do some of that, by claiming God wants us always to by healthy, wealthy and happy. So much Scripture, not to mention practical experience, refutes that, it is amazing that so many swallow it. Then, if the Lord doesn’t deliver, they will either shoulder the blame themselves (i.e. not enough faith) or become bitter because God has let them down.

This fine gospel song sets things right by comparing what the Lord has not promised us (in the stanzas), and what He has promised us (in the refrain).

God Has Not Promised…
Blue skies and flower strewn pathways, sunny days without storm clouds or rain (CH1). These are poetic images, but the last line explains that God has not promised we’ll never know sorrow or pain. Nor has He promised (CH-2) we’ll never experience “toil and temptation, trouble and woe,” or burdens, and the cares of daily life. Nor has God promised we’ll all have (CH-3) smooth, easy travel through life, with no rugged mountains to climb and no perilous rivers to cross. We’re not going to be able to get through it without our “Guide.”

CH-1) God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

CH-2) God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

CH-3) God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.

What God Has Promised…
Annie Johnson Flint lists seven marvelous things that are promised to the believer in the Word of God. Let me provide a few Bible verses that relate to them. 1) II Cor. 12:9; 2) Matt. 11:28-30; 3) Ps. 119:105, 130; 4) Heb. 4:15-16; 5) Phil. 4:19; 6) Lam. 3:22-24; 7) Rom. 8:38-39.

But God hath promised [1] strength for the day,
[2] Rest for the labour, [3] light for the way,
[4] Grace for the trials, [5] help from above,
[6] Unfailing sympathy, [7] undying love.

1) Which of the trials and difficulties the hymn mentions are you currently going through?

2) Which of God’s seven great provisions have you claimed and enjoyed today?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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