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Words: James Rowe (b. Jan. 1, 1865; d. Nov. 10, 1933)
Music: Bentley DeForest Ackley (b. Sept. 27, 1872; d. Sept. 3, 1958)
Note: James Rowe was the author of hundreds of gospel songs, including Love Lifted Me, and I Would Be Like Jesus. The Cyber Hymnal lists 2,658 he wrote! Mr. Rowe emigrated to America from England in 1889, and worked on the railroad, and then for the Humane Society.
Six centuries before the time of Christ, a tale credited to the Greek story-teller Aesop illustrated the moral: A man is known by the company he keeps. A more recent proverb suggests a similar thing: Birds of a feather flock together.
There’s truth there. The individuals we like, those we consider compatible with ourselves, the ones we are drawn to, will say a lot about us. People often tend to have values and interests like their close friends.
In John Bunyan’s classic book Pilgrim’s Progress, Pilgrim is on his way to the Celestial City (heaven). Along the way he meets with many people. Some have views and habits quite contrary to his own. He readily parts company with Worldly Wiseman, who urges him to give up his spiritual pursuits and live a more secular life. Formalist and Hypocrisy are rejected too, as is Talkative, who babbles a great deal but does not translate his words into deeds.
On the other hand, Pilgrim finds great blessing in the friendship of Faithful and Hopeful. Interpreter gives him a better understanding of the Scriptures, and Help, as his name suggests, is supportive and encouraging.
The Bible warns, “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits [morals, or character]” (I Cor. 15:33). “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Prov. 13:20). It is important to have close friends who will lift us up, spiritually, not drag us down.
The greatest possible companion we can have along life’s way is the Lord Jesus Christ. Though we do not have the privilege of His physical presence, as His disciples had long ago, we can still meet with Him through God’s Word and in prayer. The child of God has the privilege of walking with the King!–in fact, with One who is called a number of times the “King of kings,” the greatest King of all (I Tim. 6:14-15).
In 1910 James Rowe wrote the present song. It was introduced in the meetings of evangelist Billy Sunday, and soon those who gathered night by night were singing enthusiastically.
CH-1) In sorrow I wandered, my spirit oppressed,
But now I am happy–securely I rest;
From morning till evening glad carols I sing,
And this is the reason–I walk with the King.
I walk with the King, hallelujah!
I walk with the King, praise His name!
No longer I roam, my soul faces home,
I walk and I talk with the King.
Later, a strange and amazing story emerged about that hymn. A woman told how she lived near the Post Office, and a local jazz band had rented a room above it to practice their then-popular ragtime music. But she was stunned, one evening, to hear the melody of I Walk with the King emanating from the building.
Why was that? Had they been to Mr. Sunday’s meetings? She just had to find out. So she went next door and asked. “Oh, no, said the leader. One of the men heard someone whistling the tune this afternoon, and thought it was catchy, so we’re trying it.” (Imagine that! The Lord can even use whistling as a witness!)
The woman decided to enlighten the jazz band members, and she sang the words for them.
CH-3) O soul near despair in the lowlands of strife,
Look up and let Jesus come into your life;
The joy of salvation to you He would bring–
Come into the sunlight and walk with the King.
The men were greatly impressed with the message of the song, and agreed they’d all come to the meetings–which they did. As a result, several of them trusted Christ as Saviour, beginning their walk with the King. One testified he was determined to give all of his musical talents to God, from that time on.
1) Have you had (or have you heard of) an unusual witnessing situation, such as is described above?
2) What are some of the benefits and blessings of “walking with the King”?