Christianity 201

May 1, 2014

God Our Refuge and Protector

When Charles Wesley wrote the song which follows in 1740, most of the imagery is of God as protector, keeper, sustainer, and protector of both body and soul. But following the British tradition, the first line of the song becomes the title, and so we are left thinking that this is a song of God’s love for us. If so, we’re in for a surprise because in the middle verse, God seems absent.

In every way, this song exhibits a pattern found in the Psalms, and if they wish to write anything of substance, or anything that reflects the heart of God, composers of worship material today would do well to know the Psalter intimately before setting out to write.

Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide;
Oh, receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.

Wilt Thou not regard my call?
Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall—
Lo! on Thee I cast my care.
Reach me out Thy gracious hand!
While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope I stand,
Dying, and behold, I live.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want,
More than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
Heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name,
Source of all true righteousness;
Thou art evermore the same,
Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart;
Rise to all eternity.

The song resolves in the final verses, but there is criticism today that many of our worship services attempt to “tie everything up with a bow” at the end. We like the wrap up that is a happy ending, which leaves many people exiting the sanctuary thinking that perhaps, theirs is the only life which is stuck in the third verse.

Each of the verses in this song follows a progression; and if you own a Bible with cross-references, you know it’s also possible to imagine a hymnbook or chorus book that would be cross-referenced as well.

The first verse is suggestive of I John 4:19 KJV:

We love him, because he first loved us.

but even this text is talking about the character trait of love that is implanted in us through Christ’s love for us, and only the KJV makes God the object of that love.

The second verse reminds me of John 6:68 NIV:

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

However, the third verse is more reminiscent of Job 5:7 NLT:

People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire.

Job had to have felt that God was distant at that point; though he himself, from what we see from the trying of his character would have said distant and not absent. There is a difference.

Homework: Your task now is to take the 4th and 5th verses and decide what scripture passage these evoke. Leave your answer in the comments.


  1. Paul, I am looking for material that really understands the primitive Methodist prays at the altar where they sought to give up all that stood between them and God.  The response at the end of the process was a sense of inner peace that they identified with baptism in the Holy Spirit.

    Do you know anything that documents the above.  It is significant for me as a model of sanctification that resembles inner healing.

    Thanks and hope all is well with you.   George Hartwell M.Sc. Life Transformation Group (416) 234-1850

    Comment by ghartwell2014 — May 1, 2014 @ 9:58 pm | Reply

  2. 4th verse
    Colossians 2:10 And you are complete in Him who is the Head off all principality and power

    5th verse
    Jude 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of Hi glory with exceeding power

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — May 17, 2014 @ 1:43 am | Reply

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