If you have a good friend in this life, you are very fortunate. Good friends are few and far between. It is special to have one with whom you can safely share your joys, your sorrows and your prayer needs. But if you don't have such a friend here, the scriptures remind us, in Proverbs 18:24, that "there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother", and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. And this is the message of this week's hymn, "I've found a friend, oh such a friend, He loved me ere I knew Him." The writer, James Grindlay Small (1817-1888), was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he attended university, studying theology under a Dr. Thomas Chalmers. Small later served as pastor of a church, but it is said that certain peculiarities of speech and manner in the pulpit kept him from being a success there. However, he was a gentle and godly man. Other clergymen recognized his sincerity and ability and he was made clerk of the presbytery. He also published several volumes of poetry. His first book was "Hymns for Youthful Voices", published in 1859. This hymn, originally called "Jesus the Friend", was probably published four years later in "The Revival Hymnbook", although some say it first appeared in "Psalms and Sacred Songs" in 1866. This hymn undoubtedly is the personal experience of its author. Many a Christian could probably testify that this hymn has either been the means, through the Holy Spirit, of bringing them to Christ, or it has warmed and blessed them as he has journeyed through this cold and heartless world. In his hymn Small shares how the Lord loves us as our friend. I especially love the thoughts of the first verse were he reminds us of the important truth that before we loved Christ, He loved us. Before we even knew Him, or knew about Him, He loved us. Romans 5:8 reminds us "that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." What great love. And if we are joined to Him by a bond of eternal love, it stands to reason that the Lord will do everything necessary to guide and protect us, in order to deliver us safely into our eternal home. Yes, we are His, forever. I can't help but think of another great hymn, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus!". What more could we want? Rejoice in that truth this week.
1 I've found a Friend, oh, such a Friend!
He loved me ere I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
And thus He bound me to Him.
And round my heart still closely twine
Those ties which naught can sever,
For I am His, and He is mine,
Forever and forever.
2 I've found a Friend, oh, such a Friend!
He bled, He died to save me;
And not alone the gift of life,
But His own self He gave me.
Naught that I have my own I call,
I hold it for the Giver;
My heart, my strength, my life, my all,
Are His, and His forever.
3. I've found a friend, O such a friend!
All power to Him is given,
To guard me on my onward course,
And bring me safe to Heaven.
The eternal glories gleam afar,
To nerve my faint endeavor;
So now to watch, to work, to war,
And then to rest forever.
4. I've found a Friend, oh, such a Friend!
So kind, and true, and tender,
So wise a Counselor and Guide,
So mighty a Defender!
From Him who loves me now so well,
What power my soul can sever?
Shall life or death, or earth or hell?
No? I am His forever.
Listen to it sung here. FRIEND