In Matthew 7, Jesus gives the illustration of the wise man who built his house on the rock, a sure foundation, and when the storms came the house on the rock stood firm. But the foolish man built his house upon the shifting sands and when the storm came it collapsed. Today we live in a society where many deny that there are any absolutes in life. People just do what they think is right in their own eyes and they build their lives on the shifting sand. And when the storms arise they have no hope for today or tomorrow. Too many reject the firm foundation of the absolutes and truth revealed to us in the Bible. This week's hymn reminds us of the only true, solid foundation for our lives. For over two centuries this hymn has been a favorite and solid reminder for many. It was General Robert E. Lee's favorite hymn and was included in his funeral service as it was in the funerals of American presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. President Andrew Jackson called for it to be sung on his deathbed. On Christmas Eve 1898, American units involved in the Spanish-American War joined together to sing the hymn. The units were from the North and the South. But as popular as it has been, its authorship is unknown. It was first published in 1787 in Dr. John Rippon's Selection of Hymns and for many years people thought he had written it. But Rippon attributed the authorship simply to "K--." Later some studies showed that this may have meant R. Keene who was once a song leader in Dr. Rippon's church. But nobody knows for sure. However, no matter who wrote it, the words have been an inspiration to many. They remind us of the need to make the truth of the Scriptures our firm foundation of the Christian life. The verses reflect the application of Scripture to our lives. In verse two we are reminded of His presence and His promise to strengthen us and uphold us. It echoes Isaiah 41:10. Verse three reminds us of His presence when we walk through the deep waters which will come our way. Verse four reminds us of the fiery trials in which He will protect us and refine us. These verses reflect Isaiah 43:2. The final verse is a commitment to rest upon the Lord despite all the critics who will try to convince us otherwise and take away our victory. May the teachings and truth and absolutes of the Bible, God's guidebook to us, be the firm foundation that we built our lives upon. Matthew 7:25, ":And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon the house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock."
Here are the five verses that are generally included in hymnbooks and sung today.
(1) How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
(2) Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
(3) When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
(4) When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
(5) The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake.
Apparently there were two other verses written and sometimes included. I especially like the second one since as I am getting older is a great reminder that God is still there as our foundation and that he will continue to care and protect us in the storms that seniors in particular face.
In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty's vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.
Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.
Listen to it here. LISTEN