HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION
1787 “K”—in Rippon’s Selection of Hymns,
So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).
A believer’s stability for this life, as well as his confidence for eternity, rests solely on the written promises of God’s Word. The direction of the living God for our lives is very definite. It is found in a firm foundation—the written revelation: “Thus saith the Lord.”
In the first stanza the sure foundation of the Christian faith is established as being the Word of God. This challenging question is posed: What more can God do than provide His very Word as a completed revelation of Himself to man? The succeeding verses personalize precious promises from His Word:
Verse Two – Isaiah 41:40 “Fear thou not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed, for I am thy God…”
Verse Three – Isaiah 43:2 – “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee …”
Verse Four – 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness …”
Verse Five – Hebrews 13:5 – “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee …”
The authorship of the text has always been a mystery to hymnologists. Its first appearance was in 1787 in Selection of Hymns, published by Dr. John Rippon, pastor of the Carter’s Lane Baptist Church in London. He was one of the most popular and influential dissenting ministers of his time.
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?
“Fear not, I am with thee—O be not dismayed, for I am thy God, I will still give thee aid; I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by my gracious, omnipotent hand.
“When thru 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.
“When thru 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.
“The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to his foes; that soul, tho all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never—no, never—no, never forsake.”
For Today: Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Psalm 36:1; Psalm 118:6, 7; Hebrews 13:5, 6
Plant your feet firmly on the “thus saith the Lords” and live life confidently in that strength. Carry this musical message with you—
Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (p. 14). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.
- Pluck up you hearts therefore, and be strong: dread not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God himself doth go with thee: he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. And Moses called Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be of good courage and strong: for thou shalt go with this people unto the land which the Lord hath sworn unto their fathers, to give them, and thou shalt give it them to inherit. And the Lord himself doth go before thee: he will be with thee: he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not therefore, nor be discomforted. Deuteronomy 31:6-8
- Wickedness saith to the wicked man, even in mine heart, that there is no fear of God before his own eyes. Psalm 36:1
- The Lord is with me: therefore I will not fear what man can do to me. Psalm 118:6-7
- Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with those things that ye have, for he hath said, I will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: Hebrews 13:5-6
What a lovely rendition!