Abide With Me

I believe in God the Father.

I know He made all things. 

I know He alone has power,

and He alone is King.

——–

I believe in Jesus Christ,

The only natural heir. 

His glory as the Son of God

Is glory t’which none compare

——–

This Jesus took on human flesh,

A virgin brought Him forth. 

His sighs were answered with cattle cries,

His chills with scraps of cloth.

——–

The people He came to said “No,

Our kingdom is earthly!”

My Lord and Savior suffered here,

Accused of blasphemy.

——–

Pont’us Pilate gave him to

The cursed, sacred tree.

He died alone, suspended there: 

He gave His life for me.

——–

His body they placed in a grave,

His soul had suffered worse.

He faced the gate of Hell itself.

He satisfied my curse.

———

On day the third he rose again,

The stone was rolled away.

The work that he’d been sent to do,

My guilt, it had been paid.

——–

The Lord unto His Christ then said

“Sit thou at my right hand.”

Our Savior went to glory and

He now rules all the land.

——–

He’ll be there ‘till the end of time,

When He shall come again.

He’ll come in all His glory then,

To judge the quick and dead.

——–

The time between that day and now

Is stretched out dauntingly.

In space between the Holy Ghost,

He lives inside of me.

——–

My Christ sent me His Comforter,

did not just leave me be. 

I’m not alone while on this earth,

My Lord abides with me. 

Musical Meditation on Psalm 22

The Psalms are an important part of worship.  Through singing the Psalms, we express our experience as sinners in a sinful world using the same vivid language that the Old Testament psalmists did.  Through the Psalms we pray to God; we ask for aid, comfort, and forgiveness for our sins.  The Psalms assure us of God’s grace.  And in thankfulness for God’s grace, we praise Him through the inspired words of the Psalms.  Psalm 22 as it is versified in Psalter number 47 contains all of these elements.  Let’s explore that versification in writing and with music.

Psalter 47:1

My God, My God, I cry to Thee;
O why hast Thou forsaken me?
Afar from Me, Thou dost not heed,
Though day and night for help I plead.

David felt as if God had forsaken him.  As Christians familiar with New Testament history, we immediately recognize David’s cry for help as prophetic of Jesus’ suffering on the cross.  Both David and Jesus had the same response to their suffering; they prayed.  In Psalm 22 David prays that God will remember him, and deliver him from his suffering.  David’s prayer in verse 11 is, “Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.”  David recognized that when he was suffering and felt alone, only God could help him.

Jesus suffered as the day of His crucifixion approached and He prayed, “Let this cup pass from me.”  Even though Jesus submitted perfectly, the suffering still overwhelmed Him and He prayed for relief. Then when He was hanging on the cross, Jesus cried out with the same words that David had written, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

When we suffer, we must follow the examples of David and Jesus.  It is appropriate that we pray the prayer of Psalm 22 and ask God to deliver us from our suffering.  Just as David recognized, we must recognize that God is our only source of help.

Psalter 47:7-9

Unnumbered foes would do Me wrong,
They press about Me, fierce and strong,
Like beasts of prey their rage they vent,
My courage fails, My strength is spent.

Down unto death Thou leadest Me,
Consumed by thirst and agony;
With cruel hate and anger fierce
My helpless hands and feet they pierce.

While on My wasted form they stare,
The garments torn from Me they share,
My shame and sorrow heeding not,
And for My robe they cast the lot.

Again, we immediately recognize the prophetic nature of David’s description of his suffering.  David was in a very intense period of suffering, and it gave him a glimpse into what Jesus would later endure.  But Jesus suffered as no other man could suffer.  The unbelieving civil authorities conspired to sentence him to death despite having never committed a crime, or even a sin.  They led Jesus to Golgotha as if He was a criminal. They nailed Him to the cross as a spectacle, and onlookers ridiculed and mocked Him out of hatred for God.  He hung there for hours in “thirst and agony” as he slowly died.  But Jesus’ greatest suffering came as He willingly took upon himself God’s wrath to pay for the sins of His people in the world.  It is appropriate that as we commemorate Christ’s passion we sing this Psalm to help us understand His suffering.

Psalter 47:10  

O Lord, afar no longer stay;
O Thou My helper, haste, I pray;
From death and evil set Me free;
I live, for Thou didst answer Me.

Here David returns to his prayer for help.  The source of this help was the exact event that he was prophesying about.  Jesus suffered intensely as payment for David’s sins and for the sins of many others.  Having descended to Hell to achieve that, Jesus ascended to glory in heaven.  That sacrifice and the following glorification were the source of David’s comfort, help, and forgiveness of sins.  God gave David that comfort even though he lived long before Jesus’ incarnation.  God’s control of the events of history is so sure, that even though David only got a small glimpse of Jesus’ sacrifice, he could have full confidence in His victory over death.

We experience the same comfort as David, but from a different perspective.  We sing this Psalm knowing the details of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension.  We can see more clearly how Jesus accomplished victory over death.

Psalter 47:11   

I live and will declare thy fame
Where brethren gather in Thy Name;
Where all Thy faithful people meet,
I will Thy worthy praise repeat.

The closing verse of this Psalter number is one of praise to God.  David was assured that God did not “stay afar,” and he showed his gratitude through the praise we find in this Psalm.  When we gather for worship and praise God by singing the Psalms, we are doing exactly what David refers to in Psalm 22 verse 22.  “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.”  When we sing the Psalms we are glorifying God in a tradition that dates back thousands of years.  I participate in that tradition by singing the Psalms with my fellow church members and I participate as a church organist.  What I have expressed above in words, I express again in organ music.

Brian Westra

Scheduling Ahead

Recently, I have begun working in a medical office and have realized how much of our lives is spent planning ahead. Every day I am making appointments for weeks and months ahead and scheduling many patients for different doctors. Everything is very organized and set up so that doctors can look ahead and see what the predicted future holds. They can see that they have 30 patients on Monday, they can see who is coming in, and they start preparing early for the patients, so they are ready to discuss surgery or other treatment options for when the patients arrive. 

This occurs in other areas of life too. Spring break is coming up or may have already come and gone for some of us. Perhaps your family is taking a vacation. You’ve planned ahead for months, you have asked off work, you have started online shopping for the new outfits you will wear, and in your mind you are predicting where you will go. 

Sometimes looking ahead so far and with such confidence of the future you have planned for yourself, it can make you forget that you are not in control. I can schedule appointments and you can prepare for your spring break adventure and in our minds, they are going to happen, but this does not give us control of the future. A patient might cancel the appointment, or the doctor might become sick and be off work for two weeks, or an unexpected covid quarantine mandate might put an end to your dream vacation. Another example is college, when you leave high school, you might plan to go for four years and end up getting engaged and married in the first year and drop out halfway through. We are not in control. Matthew 6:34 reminds us of this when it says, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for things of itself”. This verse is God reminding us that we will not be able to control the future, our plans WILL change, but He is comforting us by reminding us that He is in control and that although in our eyes canceled patients and ruined vacations seems like a shift in our plan, these changes are part of God’s perfect plan. 

So no, I am not saying you should not prepare for the future at all so that when the time comes you are not prepared. Do not stop preparing for patients and organizing your day in the office, do not stop being efficient in making sure that you have asked off of work for a vacation. However, make sure to realize how important it is that you must trust God. He is the one leading you through life, not yourself. Trust His plan, trust the way in which He leads you. Do not stress if life turns a 180-degree direction from the way you were thinking it would go, it is His plan after all, not yours. He is there to lead you and His plan is the best plan. What does this mean? It means that His plan will lead you to Him. If one sheep of 99 goes astray, God will lead it back. Proverbs 16:9 comes to mind here, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps”.  We can have confidence that God cares for all of His people and therefore we have no reason to doubt or do anything but trust His plan. Glorify God for this! By ourselves we are lost so He is actively leading us to Him! 

Lily Holstege