Posted by: rcottrill | February 20, 2017

O Father, You Are Sovereign

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Words: Edith Margaret Clarkson (b. June 8, 1915; d. Mar. 17, 2008)
Music: Aurelia, by Samuel Sebastian Wesley (b. Aug. 14, 1810; d. Apr. 19, 1876)

Wordwise Hymns (Margaret Clarkson)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Canadian hymn writer Margaret Clarkson has given us a number of wonderful hymns. In 1980, she produced an excellent one on the sovereignty of God. Aurelia is the familiar tune commonly used with The Church’s One Foundation.

W eigh scales to determine how heavy something is probably have been used almost since the beginning of human history.

Balances, the simplest form of apparatus, consist of a horizontal bar supported on a central fulcrum, like a teeter-totter, with a basket or pan hanging from each end of the bar. The substance or object to be weighed is put in one pan, and known weights of ounces or grams are slowly added to the other. When the weight of each side is identical, the bar will be exactly horizontal and balanced, and the weight of the examined substance or object revealed.

Though more sophisticated scales are available now, balances are still used in some situations–and are sometimes abused by those intent on cheating others. That’s not a new thing. A warning against this form of thievery comes in the Bible, from almost three thousand years ago. “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight” (Prov. 11:1).

Balances are also used in a symbolic sense in Scripture. Job, in a time of terrible suffering, was accused (unjustly) by his companions of committing some great sin for which the Lord must be punishing him. He replied, “Let me be weighed on honest scales, that God may know my integrity” (Job 31:6). On the other hand, judgment fell, in Babylon, on a proud and wicked ruler named Belshazzar. Through the prophet Daniel, the Lord declared, “You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting” (Dan. 5:27).

There is another sense in which this concept can be applied to the Bible. That’s in the matter of balancing truths. The Bible is an inspired and trustworthy message from God (II Tim. 3:16). Most of its message is understandable when we apply our minds prayerfully to study it. However, because God is infinite, there will be aspects of the truth that stretch beyond human comprehension.

An example of the need for balance lies in the twin truths of God’s sovereign will and man’s responsible choices. To our finite minds, these two seem impossible to reconcile. How can we be free to choose, when God controls everything? Yet somehow within the realm of God’s sovereignty we make choices every day.

Even when we can’t totally explain it, we must keep both realities in balance, because that’s what the Word of God does. He reigns over all. He makes the rules, and has a right to punish those who disobey them. But He also puts choices before human beings which imply both freedom and responsibility on our part.

Look at the words of Joseph. His jealous brothers made an evil choice; they sold him into slavery in Egypt. But in that choice God overruled, using Joseph to save many lives during a famine–even the lives of his sinful brothers. “You meant evil against me,” Joseph said to them, “but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20).

Or consider the cross of Christ. Falsely accused, Jesus was condemned and crucified. That was by a wicked human choice, but it also happened within “the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23).

And think of our salvation. The Bible says, “By grace [God’s sovereign grace] you have saved through faith [a personal decision to trust in the Saviour]” (Eph. 2:8; cf. Acts 16:31). Both must be accounted for.

Notice how both the choices to trust and worship God operate within the sphere of His sovereign will, as described in Miss Clarkson’s hymn.

CH-2) O Father, You are sovereign
In all affairs of man;
No powers of death or darkness
Can thwart Your perfect plan.
All chance and change transcending,
Supreme in time and space,
You hold your trusting children
Secure in Your embrace.

CH-4) O Father, You are sovereign!
We see You dimly now,
But soon before Your triumph
Earth’s every knee shall bow.
With this glad hope before us
Our faith springs forth anew:
Our Sovereign Lord and Saviour,
We trust and worship You!

1) What other hymns do you know that declare the sovereignty of God?

2) What assurances and confidence does God being sovereign over all give to us?

Wordwise Hymns (Margaret Clarkson)
The Cyber Hymnal


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