Hymns are largely a thing of the past, and sometimes for good reason. Musically they are dated; theologically they can be weak or shallow; the language is archaic; or the associated performances have been so poor, they’re gone, because of guilt by association. But hymns are still important to me. Lyrics from the great ones are usually deep enough to preach a sermon based on each verse. Watts, Wesley, Crosby and Luther would be examples of these. Or sometimes… something just sticks.
For the last week of January, Dr. Randy has a new teaching series entitled Follow the Leader. And guess what? There’s an old hymn that talks about THE Leader. Now the words are rather antiquated, but I will translate them for you.
He leadeth me, O blessed thought! O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whatever I do, wherever I be, still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, He leadeth me, by His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me.
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Leadeth is old-school for leads. Fraught, according to more contemporary definitions, is about being anxious, worried, and overwrought. But an older definition gets it right— it means filled. Hopefully now, the words are pretty straightforward; but what I want to point out is the intimate nature of the text: By His own hand He leadeth me…
Now Psalm 23 would be an obvious choice, talking about the LORD leading us to good places, and leading us through dark places. But in this Psalm, the Lord is our shepherd, and He is leading you with His rod and staff. Not a lot of handholding with shepherds, although there may be times when He carries you. And as I said, He is with you, in the good places and the bad. Over and over, Scripture says of the LORD: “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5).
In another Psalm by King David, he tells us how ever-present God’s leading is: “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:7-10). Wow! Not only does He lead us with His hand, He holds us as well. What about the context? David may have been on the run, perhaps even from the LORD Himself; but there was no place he could go where God was not. The same applies to you.
One more Psalm. “Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant—I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand” (Psalm 73:22-23).
Who else will stay with you in the good times and bad; walk through the dark places; and hold onto you when you’re being a jerk or running away? Whatever you do, wherever you be, God will still lead you by the hand. Isn’t it time to be His faithful follower?