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How Firm a Foundation
Isaiah 43:1-5
FOUNDATION  |  Hymn History  |  Bible Passage
Author: Rippon's Selection of Hymns, 1787
Musician: Joseph Funk's
Genuine Church Music, 1832

  Play MP3 • Click to listen to the music for this hymn.

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?

"In ev'ry condition— in sickness, in health,
In poverty's vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home or abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

"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 through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow,
For I will be with thee, thy trials to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

"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.

"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!"



HYMN HISTORY:

A lot of people seem to have the mistaken notion that Christians are somehow free from trouble and sorrow.

Perhaps some of our more popular gospel songs are responsible for this impression.

Lines like 'Jesus took my burden all away,' could well be construed to have that meaning. But what they are specifically referring to is the burden of sin and the load of guilt which the sinner bears.

However, the ordinary problems and tragedies of life which befall all men are just as much part of the lot of the believer. In fact, sometimes he may seem to have more than his share.

The metrical version of Psalm 42 records:

The troubles that afflict the just
in number many be;
But yet at length out of them all
the Lord doth set him free.

It's true, of course, that these trials perform a special function in the life of the child of God.

Paul, in Romans Ch. 5 vs 3-4 tells us that 'Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience, and experience, hope.' And again in Romans Ch. 8 v 28 he advises us that 'All things work together for good.'

There is no doubt that, just as the gold can only be brought to its full purity and value by the fire of refining, so the believer in Christ must also go through the furnace of affliction. Only thus can he be purified and made acceptable to his divine master.

The words of this hymn tell us that God uses the trials and afflictions of this world to burn up the dross of our lives; and to refine the gold.

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.

This hymn has been a popular favourite amongst Christians ever since it first appeared, in 1787.

It was published then Dr. John Rippon, a Baptist minister in London. When it appeared in Rippon's 'A Selection of Hymns,' it was signed simply "K". All efforts to identify this mysterious "K", have been fruitless; and the mystery remains to this day.

However, there's no mystery about the message of his words. Whoever he was, he had a thorough knowledge of practical Christianity and of what is needed to encourage troubled saints in their hour of affliction.

In a hymn which draws liberally from the promises of the Bible, the author emphasises the only foundation for a faith which will prevail - the Word of God itself.

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?

"How Firm A Foundation", is said to have been a particular favourite of President Andrew Jackson.

After he had left aside the burdens of the Presidency, and retired to his famous home, 'The Hermitage,' the visitors still came in their throngs, from near and far, to catch a glimpse of the great man.

The story is told that once, when the crowds were thus assembled, General Jackson called out to a local minister: 'There is a beautiful hymn on the subject of the exceeding great and precious promises of God to His people. It was a favourite with my dear wife until the day of her death. It commences thus: 'How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord! I wish you would sing now.'

And so, to please and give comfort to an aging former president, the whole assembly sang the entire hymn.

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 endeavour to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!


BIBLE PASSAGE:

1 ¶ But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;



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