About four years ago I was out in our backyard doing some gardening around a very old fruit tree. I’m not even quite sure what kind of fruit tree it was because it had never produced anything beyond one wee little baby fruit that just ended up withering away. While I was pulling up weeds and cutting back bushes I leaned against the tree a bit and felt it nudge ever so slightly. I reached for it again and heard a bit of snapping and crackling. I then sent the kids into the house, made sure the way was clear, and gave the tree one good push. The massive thing crashed to the ground.
Termites. From the outside, it looked ok. But the root system that kept the tree grounded was completely eaten away. At any point during my children’s outside time, this tree could have fallen, it was that easy to push over. Its foundation was rotten.
In my 24 years of following Christ I’ve known several people like that tree. They looked like a true brother or sister on the outside. They said all the right things, did all the right things, were church deacons, professors at Christian Universities, Bible study leaders, mentors, and they served, worshipped and fellowshipped with me for years… But as time passed, we began to hear some snapping and crackling. And when that one good push came, whether it was difficulty in marriage, financial stress, or worldly desires and temptations, they crashed and completely destroyed themselves. The foundation of their faith was no longer rooted in God and His Word. Their roots were eaten up by the cares of this world and had rotted away.
The song we’ll be singing this month serves as a reminder to us of our true foundation in Christ and God’s faithfulness to His people, especially in the midst of suffering and difficulty. Here is a quick look at How Firm a Foundation…
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,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
Verse 1 serves as an introduction and as an opportunity to reflect on the assurances of God’s steadfast love and sufficient grace for His people. The unknown author then uses the rest of the song to remind us of precious promises from God’s Word.
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 thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.”
Verse 2, like the rest of the verses that follow, are written from God’s perspective. Here, it’s as if He himself is reminding us of his promises from Isaiah 41. We’re reminded that we have nothing to fear because He, in all His omnipotence, is with us, causing us to stand firm. (This is a wonderful opportunity for us to teach our children more about the attributes of God!)
3. “When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of grief, 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 pathway 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.”
Verse 3 and 4 are a paraphrase of Isaiah 43:2… We are promised that whether we go through deep waters or fiery trials, God will be with us and use these things for our good–to sanctify and purify us.
5. “The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!”
Verse 5 has its roots in Deut. 31:6 and Heb. 13:5b-6 and calls us to remember that those who have truly trusted Jesus, the living Word, can never be taken from His hands and will never be forsaken.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see many believers feeling a bit shaken by all the events of 2020. Who would have thought that this would be the year for a world wide pandemic, economic failure, distancing from precious friends and family, adding a new mandatory “accessory” to our wardrobe, continued exposure of racism and child trafficking/abuse, protests, violence, hatred, and selfishness. We see friends suffering, and people dying. The amount of terror and catastrophe happening right at this moment on earth… It’s beyond heart wrenching. And we see and experience only a drop of it.
Yahweh sees and knows it all. Every last bit.
It is not a surprise to Him. All of it is under His sovereign control. He will not forsake those who call on His name. He is a safe place and high tower for His people. He does not change. He is a sure and unshakeable foundation.
“Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah” Ps. 46
We had another song planned for this month. It’s a beautiful song and I can’t wait to put it back in the schedule for 2021. I changed it out because this song has been on my heart often this last month, and has been such an encouragement to me. I hope it is a blessing to you as well, dear friends. Let us come together and worship Yahweh of Hosts, our firm foundation, a very present help in trouble.
You may or may not be familiar with this hymn. Either way, we invite you to spend this month meditating on its truths. To get you started, we’ve provided free printable lyrics, music and copywork — all found here! Also, you can find fresh versions of the hymn on our YouTube channel that you and your family can sing along with.
If you are new to this community, welcome! It is a great time to join in and make family worship a priority if you haven’t already. You are encouraged to gather up your families, for just a few minutes each day, to sing, discuss and memorize this hymn (following your daily time in the Scriptures and in prayer) whether it is first thing in the morning, or around the dinner table or before bedtime – whatever works best for your family. You can let us know how it’s going by posting either a video or a photo on Instagram. Just tag it with #hymnofthemonth ! As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! God bless you all this month as you worship together as a family!