I am continually amazed at how our minds work. At times I think I have difficulty remembering things that happened just yesterday, but at other times I suddenly recall things that happened decades ago. That happened to me again a few weeks ago when I suddenly remembered this week's hymn choice, even though it is probably 50 years since I last heard it sung, in my grandfather's church in Sunbury, PA. This experience is a good reminder of how important it is to store good things in our mind such as scripture and even good music. It is interesting that some hymn writers were neither ministers nor professional poets, but ordinary people who loved to sing and to write new Christian songs. Edwin Hodder (1837-1904) spent the early part of his working life in New Zealand, doing sociological research among the Maori aborigines. Later he became a civil servant in his native England. As a hymn writer he would probably be considered an amateur, but in this hymn alone he has made a great contribution to our worship. A simile makes a comparison between two things, for the purpose of illustration, and to enrich our understanding. In his hymn, Mr. Hodder utilizes a series of similes to help us understand the value of the Word of God in our lives. In the first verse he uses the garden and a mine, reminding us that God's Word is like beautiful, fragrant flowers that can be picked by anyone, as well as like a deep, deep mine where precious jewels can be found. Flowers are all around us for picking, but the precious jewels require hard work to find and mine. It is the same with the Word of God. There are simple truths on the surface that are easily grasped. But others require a level of spiritual maturity to understand, and a dedication to study and meditate on what God says. In the second verse we have another set of comparisons. the Bible is like the glittering light of the stars, giving the traveler help on his way, and like an armory where a soldier can be equipped to fight the battle for truth and righteousness. The third verse is a prayer of dedication. His original song had seven stanzas, but only three are commonly used today. One of the omitted stanzas says:
Thy Word is like a glorious choir,
And loud its anthems ring;
Though many tongues and parts unite,
It is one song they sing.
As you think about these words this week, may you gain a deeper appreciation for the Word of God. May you dedicate yourself to enjoying the fragrance of His promises, digging deep for the jewels and truth He has shared, being guided by the light of the Word on your life's path and to preparing and using the armor of God as you face the spiritual battles of life.
Thy Word is like a garden, Lord, with flowers bright and fair;
And every one who seeks may pluck a lovely cluster there.
Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine; and jewels rich and rare
Are hidden in its mighty depths for every searcher there.
Thy Word is like a starry host: a thousand rays of light
Are seen to guide the traveler and make his pathway bright.
Thy Word is like an armory, where soldiers may repair;
And find, for life's long battle day, all needful weapons there.
O may I love Thy precious Word, may I explore the mine,
May I its fragrant flowers glean, may light upon me shine!
O may I find my armor there! Thy Word my trusty sword,
I'll learn to fight with every foe the battle of the Lord.
The words have been sung to a variety of tunes, but here is the one which I remember. LISTEN