Posted by: rcottrill | June 11, 2018

Held in His Mighty Arms

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Words: Winfield Macomber (b. Sept. 15, 1865; d. Oct. 19, 1896)
Music: Winfield Macomber


Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Macomber was converted at the age of sixteen. And after Bible training, he went to the Congo as a missionary in 1892. But because of ill health, he returned to America after only a year’s service. Back home he made an important contribution to the work, writing a dictionary and grammar in the Congolese language, to help other missionaries who would go there. Years later he tried once more to serve in the Congo, but took sick, and set out for home. He died on the way in Lisbon, Portugal, at the age of thirty-one.

T he son of a circus strongman, Morris Shapiro also possessed incredible physical strength. Wrestling professionally in the 1950’s, as the Mighty Atlas, he perfected what he called the Atlas Lock (technically, a full nelson) a submission hold that won him many matches. Once caught in his powerful arms, few were able to break free.

Professional wrestling has always been scripted like a soap opera, but there was nothing fake about Sharpiro’s power. And there are many who are even stronger. The World’s Strongest Man is an annual event attracting strongmen from all over, to compete in a series of events. Eddie Hall, from England, the 2017 winner, was the only man able to dead-lift over half a ton (450 kg).

But all of this pales in comparison to the almighty arms of God. We know, of course, that “God is Spirit [a spirit Being]” (Jn. 4:24), and doesn’t have arms as we do. However, the imagery is used in Scripture to convey the idea of His limitless power.

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27). “The arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous” (Ps. 37:17).

When the Assyrians attacked Jerusalem, King Hezekiah encouraged the people: “With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles” (II Chron. 32:8).

And on another occasion the prophet Isaiah prayed, “Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord! Awake as in the ancient days” (Isa. 51:9). And when God promised the people His help we read, “The Lord has sworn by His right hand and by the arm of His strength” (Isa. 62:8).

As a prelude to his great prophecy in Isaiah 53, about the coming of the Messiah (Christ), Isaiah spoke of what was to happen this way: “The Lord has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation [the Yeshuah, the Hebrew form of the name Jesus] of our God” (Isa. 52:10).

But when the promised One came, Christ showed that those mighty arms could also be gentle, loving arms. “‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them’….And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them” (Mk. 10:14, 16).

Though Jesus is not now physically present on earth, He still holds believers securely: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (Jn. 10:28).

There is a Latin motto adopted by hymn writer Dora Greenwood, and later by Charles Spurgeon’s college for pastors. It speaks of the fact that as we cling to the Lord by faith, we can be reassured that He is also holding us with His infinite strength: Et teneo, et teneor–I both hold and am held.

One who believed that was Winfield Macomber. His was a short life, but one of lasting influence. And he was safe in God’s keeping until his work here was done, then was lifted to his heavenly rest in the Lord’s loving arms. A hymn he wrote says:

CH-1) Safe is my refuge, sweet is my rest,
Ill cannot harm me, nor foes e’er molest;
Jesus my spirit so tenderly calms,
Holding me close in His mighty arms.

Oh! what wonderful, wonderful rest!
Trusting completely in Jesus I’m blest;
Sweetly He comforts and shields from alarms,
Holding me safe in His mighty arms.

CH-2) Pressing my tear stained cheek to His own,
Hushing my grief with His sweet gentle tone;
Touching my heart with His healing balms,
Holding me still in His mighty arms.

CH-3) Tempests may rage, sin’s surges may beat,
Ne’er can they reach my sheltered retreat;
Free from all danger, from dread alarms,
Resting so safe in His mighty arms.

1) Have you ever had an experience in which you especially felt the supporting arms of God sustaining you?

2) Was there a time when you became God’s arms, serving Him by holding up and helping another person?


Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. Thank you so much for this post of a beautiful hymn and the corresponding scripture. I write this in a hospital waiting room. My daughter (only young at 30) has just had a very serious health diagnosis. These words bring tears to my eyes as I sit here alone while she is having a hospital procedure. Praise God for those Everlasting Arms that I now lean on.


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