Posted by: rcottrill | December 18, 2015

Still Sweeter Every Day

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Words:
William Clark Martin (b. Dec. 25, 1864; d. Aug. 30, 1914)
Music: Charles Austin Miles (b. Jan. 7, 1868; d. Mar. 10, 1946)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Notes: William Clark Martin was a pastor and hymn writer. The Cyber Hymnal lists several dozen of his songs. A couple of them deal with the “sweetness” of the Lord Jesus. There’s the one we’ll discuss here, and also:

The name of Jesus is so sweet,
I love its music to repeat;
It makes my joys full and complete,
The precious name of Jesus!

Sweet. It’s a word we’ve dealt with before in this blog. We most often associate it with the food we eat. Our mouths have receptors that can identify four basic taste sensations: bitter, sour, salty and sweet.

Sugar is sweet to the taste. But it’s not the sweetest substance used with food. Those trying to restrict their sugar intake will often use a natural substance such as stevia, which is roughly two hundred and fifty times sweeter than sugar. There is also a West African plant that produces a protein called Brazein which is two thousand times sweeter than sugar!

However, words such as sweet and sweetness are used in other ways too. We may talk about sweet music, music that is pleasing to the ear. Or we may refer to a sweet deal, a financial transaction in which we made money. And before February 14th we get commercials about what would be a suitable Valentine’s present for our sweetheart, the one we especially love and cherish.

It’s in this latter sense that the Bible often speaks of sweetness–as that which we cherish, that which delights us. Several times the Word of God itself is spoken of that way. The psalmist says to the Lord, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Ps. 119:103; cf. Ps. 19:10).

In writing the book of Revelation, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle John delivers God’s message about coming future events. At one point, he is called upon, by an angel, to eat a small book, or scroll. We are not told what’s in the book. It would seem that is was some kind of message from God. But when John obeys and eats it, and interesting thing happens.

“I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter [sour, upset]” (Rev. 10:10).

The context, in Revelation, describes a time of terrible judgment on earth. And this object lesson for John is a reminder to us that while it’s a “sweet” thing to receive God’s message–as we do in the Bible, not all of it is pleasant. It talks about judgment as well as blessing. In Ephesians, we find an example of the opposite thing happening. Something that has elements of bitterness becomes sweet. The death of Christ on the cross is spoken of this way:

“Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us [a bitter thing, but it was also], an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling [fragrant] aroma” (Eph. 5:2).

The crucifixion of the sinless Son of God was a terrible thing. That human beings would treat Him in such a way was dreadful. But to God the Father it’s described as a fragrant aroma rising up to heaven. The imagery takes is back to the Old Testament, where the smoke of the burning of the animal sacrifices on the altar is described as a sweet aroma (e.g. Exod. 29:18). Those offerings pointed forward to the cross.

God was so pleased with Christ’s obedience in going to Calvary to die for our sins, and so pleased that it provided a means of deliverance for lost sinners, that what was grievous and wicked became a sweet fragrance to Him. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (I Pet. 3:18). That we might have an eternal home in heaven, through faith in the Christ Jesus rejoices the heart of God.

From 1899, one of William Martin’s songs, in praise of the Lord Jesus Christ, is called Still Sweeter Every Day. It says:

CH-1) To Jesus every day I find my heart is closer drawn,
He’s fairer than the glory of the gold and purple dawn;
He’s all my fancy pictures in its fairest dreams, and more,
Each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before.

The half cannot be fancied this side the golden shore;
O there He’ll be still sweeter than He ever was before.

CH-2) His glory broke upon me when I saw Him from afar,
He’s fairer than the lily, brighter than the morning star;
He fills and satisfies my longing spirit o’er and o’er,
Each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before.

Questions:
1) What is it about the Lord Jesus that can be described as “sweet” in the sense of that which is loved and cherished?

2) What other hymns can you think of that employ the word “sweet”?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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