Posted by: rcottrill | August 30, 2017

Who Trusts in God

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Words: first stanza by Joachim Magdeburg (circa 1525-1587); last two stanzas by an unknown author
Music: Bishopgarth (also called Victoria), by Arthur Seymour Sullivan (b. May 13, 1842; d. Nov. 22, 1900)

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Martin Luther is identified as a leading light in the Reformation. After his time, there was an active Catholic Counter-Reformation. Facing it boldly was a strong-minded Lutheran preacher named Joachim Magdeburg. Refusing to adopt ceremonies ordered by the Augsburg Interim Act, he was driven from one town to another.

But when he lacked an earthly dwelling, he looked to the Lord as his spiritual refuge and safe retreat. He could say with David, “ In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Ps. 56:11).

Our home, by definition, is where we live, our place of residence. Most of us have an expectation that it will provide shelter, and a measure of security. Those who live within its walls also hope it’ll be a place of mutual love and concern, and a safe haven from whatever threatens in the world outside.

That’s certainly the ideal. But the daily news, and our own experience, paint a different picture. In dry summer days, wild fires can consume almost everything in their path, including whole communities. Or spiraling tornado winds can level homes and cause streets to looked like bombed-out targets of war. Or flood waters can render buildings unlivable, and perhaps even beyond repair and restoration.

Then there are the trio of threats mentioned by Christ: moths, rust, and thieves (Matt. 6:19), both natural forces and human malice that can invade the home. Plus economic troubles that might lead a family to sell and downsize. Family conflict and abuse can also scatter  family members who seek a safer and more congenial place.

It’s a bleak picture, yet there are many homes that have survived for generations and have seen families grow, with individuals moving on to form new families, all becoming part of the kind of moral and benevolent network that strengthens communities.

In our English hymns, the word home is applied in three different ways. There are songs of aspiration regarding the home and family: Happy the Home When God Is There, by Henry Ware, and A Christian Home, by Barbara Hart. And songs about the heavenly home of the saints: Home, Sweet Home, by N. B. Vandall, and Frank Smith’s The Home Beyond the River.

But it is a third application we’ll look at here. There is a real sense in which God Himself is a secure home for the believer. “The eternal God is your refuge [or dwelling place]” (Deut. 33:27). “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Prov. 18:10). It’s a picture of complete trust in God found many times in Psalms.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1).

“Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations” (Ps. 90:1).

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust’” (Ps. 91:1-2).

“You are my hiding place” (Ps. 119:114).

During the Reformation, Martin Luther (1483-1546) gave us a hymn in that vein, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (based on Psalm 46). For his part, Magdeburg also wrote a beautiful hymn about that. His first stanza has been preserved. The author of the rest of the hymn is unknown.

CH-1) Who trusts in God, a strong abode
In heav’n and earth possesses;
Who looks in love to Christ above,
No fear his heart oppresses.
In Thee alone, dear Lord, we own
Sweet hope and consolation;
Our shield from foes, our balm for woes,
Our great and sure salvation.

CH-2) Though Satan’s wrath beset our path,
And worldly scorn assail us;
While Thou art near we will not fear,
Thy strength shall never fail us.
Thy rod and staff, shall keep us safe,
And guide our steps forever;
Nor shades of death, nor hell beneath,
Our souls from Thee shall sever.

1) What kinds of things are provided in our homes that have a spiritual parallel in God?

2) What are some of the spiritual dangers in the world that the Lord protects us from?

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal


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