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Words: William Freeman Lloyd (b. Dec. 22, 1791; d. Apr. 22, 1853)
Music: Vigil (or Albans) arranged from a melody in the 1788 opera La Molinara (The Miller Girl), by Giovanni Paisiello (b. May 9, 1741; d. June 5, 1816)
Note: Mr. Lloyd was involved in the work of the Sunday School, almost from its beginning. (He was born about ten years after Robert Raikes began this ministry, and Lloyd was attracted to it since boyhood. He taught in a Sunday School, and wrote many books and curriculum materials for this agency. He was later appointed as a secretary of the British Sunday School Union.
In 1851, Lloyd published a book of poems called Thoughts in Rhyme. In it was this little verse which sums up the faith behind the longer hymn we’re looking at:
Each future scene to God I leave,
Enough for me to know,
He can from every evil save,
And every good bestow.
The phrase “time and again,” meaning over and over, first appeared in the seventeenth century, with similar expressions, such as “time after time,” coming along later. They suggest a repetition that, if not an absolute certainty, is at least likely to occur.
Benjamin Franklin’s comment that, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” is not quite true. There are other things in our lives that happen repeatedly–both good and bad things. Birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated, there’s grocery shopping, colds and flu come along, babies are born and people die.
Solomon says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecc. 3:1). And the seasons roll by, year after year, as the Lord said they would (Gen. 8:22). In faith, we look to Him to give us the wisdom and strength to face them. Yet we’re aware that the effects and outcome of many circumstances are beyond our control. What then?
Simply this. When we commit ourselves to the Lord, in faith, we can be confident that all that happens to us is in His keeping. David speaks with assurance:
“My times [both the seasons of life, and my personal experiences] are in Your hand” (Ps. 31:15).
God is a spirit Being, of course (Jn. 4:24), without physical hands. But the Bible’s frequent reference to the hand imagery suggests His sovereign control of things.
Most often, in God’s Word, the expression is used of judgment and the punishment of sin (e.g. Deut. 2:15; Jud. 2:15). To be in the hand of the Lord in that sense is a fearful thing (Heb. 10:31). But, by the grace of God, being in His hand can do us good in so many ways. “The hand of the Lord is mighty” (Josh. 4:24)–mighty to save and keep us (Jn. 10:28-29). And the hand of the Lord guides in our experiences (Ezra 7:27-28).
It is by the hand of the Lord that exaltation and glory comes. He promises the nation of Israel: “You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God” (Isa. 62:3). He pledges to nurture and protect them too, by His almighty hand (Isa. 66:13-14). The affairs and governments of men are in the hand of the sovereign Lord, more broadly, as well. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Prov. 21:1).
The hand of the Lord is also at work in our service for Him. It was by His hand that the prophets of Bible times received inspired revelations from Him (Ezek. 3:22). And, after the church was born at Pentecost, its ministry was carried on through the enabling hand of God. We read, for instance, “Some of them…spoke to the Hellenists [Grecian Jews], preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:20-21).
There is a hymn based on Psalm 31:15, quoted above. William Freeman Lloyd wrote:
CH-1) My times are in Thy hand;
My God, I wish them there;
My life, my friends, my soul I leave
Entirely to Thy care.
CH-2) My times are in Thy hand;
Whatever they may be;
Pleasing or painful, dark or bright,
As best may seem to Thee.
CH-4) My times are in Thy hand,
Jesus, the Crucified!
Those hands my cruel sins had pierced
Are now my guard and guide.
CH-6) My times are in Thy hand,
I’ll always trust in Thee;
And, after death, at Thy right hand
I shall forever be.
1) What particular time or season, or personal experience, are you glad is in the hand of God?
2) Is there something that worries or frets you that you need to commit to His loving hand?