Posted by: rcottrill | April 17, 2015

How Big Is God

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Words: Carl Stuart Hamblen (b. Oct. 20, 1908; d. Mar. 8, 1989)
Music: Carl Stuart Hamblen

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Stuart Hamblen born, died)
The Cyber Hymnal (Stuart Hamblen)
Hymnary.org

Note: Hamblen acted in cowboy movies with Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, and was a friend of actor John Wayne. He was a singing cowboy on the radio, with considerable popularity, especially on the west coast of America. But one important thing was missing in his life.

A thousand years before the time of Christ, a hulking Philistine warrior named Goliath seemed big enough to beat anyone. When the two armies were arrayed against each other, Goliath boldly issued a challenge to Israel. He called for them to select a man to fight him. “If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us” (I Sam. 17:9).

But we read that all the army of Israel was “dismayed and greatly afraid” (vs. 11). Even King Saul was terrified, though the Bible says was head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the nation (I Sam. 9:2). It took a young shepherd boy named David to face the challenge. We learn that he was an expert with a slingshot. But even that might not have been enough against an experienced warrior who towered about a metre above him.

The confidence of the boy was not simply in his own skill. Since Israel was the chosen people of God, he realized the reputation of the Lord was at stake. When he stood before the giant, he declared that it was his intention to kill him. “Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands” (I Sam. 17:47). God was clearly bigger than Goliath!

The word “big” is used in our English Bibles (NKJV) in only one application: strangely, it’s to describe the “big toe” of the high priest (Lev. 8:23). Rather, it is the word “great” that is found, dozens of times in reference to the Lord God.

He has great power–on earth and in the heavens (Exod. 32:11; Jer. 32:17); great mercy and kindness (II Chron. 1:8; Ps. 117:2); great honour, majesty, and glory (Ps. 104:1; Ps. 138:5). He is a great King (Ps. 47:2), and is often described as “great and awesome” (Deut. 7:21). He is so great in these and other ways that His greatness is described as “unsearchable,” or immeasurable (Ps. 145:3). Such an infinitely great God should inspire in us great fear and reverence (Ps. 89:7), and great praise (Ps. 48:1).

Whether or not young David was big enough to slay Goliath became irrelevant. God was! The power of Almighty God was arrayed against puny, insignificant human strength that day, and the outcome was inevitable. And the Lord can do far more than that. He can cleanse a sinner’s heart, and transform his life by the power of His Holy Spirit. “Though your sins are like scarlet,” God says, “they shall be as white as snow” (Isa. 1:18).

That happened to a wild rebel cowboy, a Country-western singer song-writer named Stuart Hamblen. His father was a preacher, so we know he’d had an early Christian influence, but he turned his back on it. He became a hard-drinking, foul talking reprobate. But his wife Suzie was a believer, and when evangelist Billy Graham was planning a series of meetings in Los Angeles in 1949, Suzie was heavily involved in the organizing.

Stuart’s wife encouraged him to attend. He did, and the message of the gospel stirred his heart. Back home, he found he was unable to sleep, thinking about his sinful life, and where he was heading in the end. About four in the morning, he called the hotel where the Graham team was staying, and asked to see Dr. Graham. He arrived at the hotel an hour later, and there he made a decision to trust Christ as his Saviour.

Hamblen called his mother, and she shed tears of joy, at the news. The power of God changed his life completely, and he became an effective ambassador for the Lord Jesus. Overwhelmed at what God had done, he wrote a song especially for Billy Graham’s soloist George Beverly Shea to sing. The song is How Big Is God. The refrain says:

How big is God!
How big and wide His vast domain!
To try to tell these lips can only start;
He’s big enough to rule His mighty universe,
Yet, small enough to live within my heart.

That is big enough indeed!

Questions:
1) What aspect of the bigness (greatness) of God has been especially meaningful to you lately?

2) What other hymns do you know and use that celebrate the greatness of God?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Stuart Hamblen born, died)
The Cyber Hymnal (Stuart Hamblen)
Hymnary.org


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