Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

Songs of Praise

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

2nd October 2011

Hymn writer Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847) was a Church of Ireland minister who was plagued with ill health through out his life.

Because of his constant sickness, Lyte’s hymns were written out of deep spiritual experience. This is reflected in many of his well-known hymns including “Abide with me” which contains these words:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

His personal trials only increased his faith in the unfailing goodness of God.

One of Lyte's best-known hymns, “Praise my soul the King of Heaven”, was inspired by Psalm 103.

Verses 1-5 call us to praise God for the way He forgives, heals and fills our lives with good things. In verses 11-14 these mercies are emphasised; God is concerned for the downtrodden, He is patient and loving - not punishing us for our transgressions.

Because of his poor health, Lyte would have been aware of his mortality, highlighted in verses 15-18. Our earthly life is like that of a flower or grass that flourishes, then fades and dies. Yet this sobering thought is overcome by the promise in verse 17; those who honour the Lord will experience His love from everlasting to everlasting.

The Psalm ends in verses 19-22 with assurance. God has established His throne in heaven and His kingdom rules over all. Those who dwell in heaven and on earth are called to be as one in praise of Him.

This Psalm is a hymn of individual thanksgiving in which the writer rises from a thankful acknowledgment of personal blessings to a celebration of God’s gracious forgiveness and faithfulness that would have spoken to Lyte as he suffered with illness and frailty.

The Psalm concludes by commanding all creatures to unite in this song of praise. If the angelic hosts are quick to do his will, how much more those who have experienced his mighty acts of salvation and mercy.

If you are suffering from sickness or illness I pray that Psalm 103 will be a comfort and blessing to you, and that God in His grace will place Lyte’s words on your heart and lips:

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven,
To his feet thy tribute bring;
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like me his praise should sing?
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise him for his grace and favour
To our fathers in distress;
Praise him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Glorious in his faithfulness.

Father-like, he tends and spares us,
Well our feeble frame he knows;
In his hands he gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Widely as his mercy flows.

Angels, help us to adore him;
Ye behold him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before him,
Dwellers all in time and space:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.

Have a good week singing songs of praise.

Pastor Barry

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