Posted by: rcottrill | May 5, 2017

God Is the Refuge of His Saints

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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Isaac Watts (b. July 17, 1674; d. Nov. 25, 1748)
Music: Ward, a Scottish melody arranged by Lowell Mason (b. Jan. 8, 1792; d. Aug. 11, 1872)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Isaac Watts)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Isaac Watts has been called the Father of English Hymnody. He began writing hymns in his teens, eventually giving us about six hundred of them. He produced hymns of great theological depth, and often ones that have a great depth of feeling too. There is hardly anything in our traditional hymns to surpass When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

The story of Noah, and of how he built the ark at God’s command, and what followed after, takes up four chapters in the early part of Genesis (chapters 6–9). Though skeptics have dismissed the account, it has the ring of truth and authenticity. Further, over the years, some have actually claimed to have seen the remains of the ark. Whether or not they did, God’s Word remains true.

In Noah’s day, the wickedness of humanity had come to such a state that the Bible says, “The earth also was corrupt [rotten, ruined] before God, and the earth was filled with violence [cruelty and injustice]” (Gen. 6:11-12). But there was a notable exception. Noah is described as a just man who walked with God, and the Almighty looked upon him with favour (6:8-9).

The Lord told Noah He was about to destroy all humanity, and all air-breathing animals across the face of the earth (6:13, 17), but that Noah and his immediate family were to be saved (6:18). The means of their deliverance was to be an “ark,” a massive floating barge, 450 feet (137 metres) long. It would be a place of safety, not only for eight people, but for representatives of every species of earth’s creatures (6:19-20).

In obedience to God, Noah and his three sons began constructing the ark. No doubt building it with no adequate body of water nearby drew a big crowd of gawkers. It likely became a kind of tourist attraction, and the subject of endless ridicule. But over the years it took to construct it, the Bible tells us Noah was “a preacher of righteousness” (II Pet. 2:5), warning others of judgment to come. Sadly, no one heeded him.

“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith [by trusting God]” (Heb. 11:7).

It took about a year for the flood waters to rise and abate. But in that time they were safe in the ark from the storms of judgment, until the boat finally came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (Gen. 8:4)–in what is now eastern Turkey.

God has promised He will never again bring a watery judgment on the whole earth. The final judgment is to be by fire (II Pet. 3:6-7, 10-11). But for this or any other time of danger there is a place of safety. The ark of old provides a foreshadowing and a picture of it. The ultimate place of safety for the people of God is the Lord Himself.

This is brought out in Psalms, over and again. “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble” (Ps. 9:9). “In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Ps. 62:7-8). And that’s the key to finding a place of safety in the Lord, putting our faith in Him (cf. Prov. 3:5-6).

One particular psalm speaks of God’s protection extensively, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble….The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Ps. 46:1, 7). That psalm was the basis for Martin Luther’s great hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. To this may be added a lesser known hymn by Isaac Watts called God Is the Refuge of the Saints. With firm assurance he ends his hymn by declaring we are “Built on His truth, and armed with power” (CH-6). The hymn definitely has a message for the turmoil of today.

CH-1) God is the refuge of His saints,
When storms of sharp distress invade;
Ere we can offer our complaints,
Behold Him present with His aid.

CH-2) Let mountains from their seats be hurled
Down to the deep, and buried there;
Convulsions shake the solid world:
Our faith shall never yield to fear.

CH-3) Loud may the troubled ocean roar;
In sacred peace our souls abide;
While every nation, every shore,
Trembles, and dreads the swelling tide.

Questions:
1) What storm of life has recently struck you or someone you know?

2) Did you take refuge in the Lord, by trusting in Him? With what result?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Isaac Watts)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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