Hymn #139 – Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
In Sunday, January 19th’s Scripture readings, we hear about the juxtaposition of bodily needs and spiritual needs. Jesus’s straightforward words from the Gospel of Mark remind us that none of our earthly goods or possessions matter if we neglect our spiritual life. However, the story of Elijah from the book of 1 Kings reminds us that God does take care of us both in body and in soul. We, like Elijah, must continue to recognize God’s providence and blessings both in the physical blessings he gives us and in the ways he shows his presence in our lives – particularly, as we live and grow in his Word and as we gather in Christian community with others.
Many of the hymns in our hymnal under the “providence” section also describe how God takes care of our souls and our body at the same time. We will sing one of my favorites this Sunday, #139 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. In the first stanza, the author shows the contrast between body and soul in two ways: (1) he reminds us that God is King of Creation (the physical), but also that he wishes us to draw near to his temple, or house (the spiritual) (2) he implores us to praise God who is our “health (body) and salvation (soul).”
The following verses remind us, like the Lord reminded Elijah, that even though the Lord has great power, he has chosen to humble himself not only in gently caring for us, but in sending his Son to take on our suffering and sin. In the second stanza, the hymn writer compares the Lord to an eagle who supports and sustains his children on his wings (see Isaiah 40:30-31). In the third stanza, the hymn writer expresses sincere faith that God will make the work of his people to prosper – the Lord can always accomplish new or unexpected things! Finally, in Stanza 4, we are reminded of the gentle care of the Lord as the hymn writer compares God to a mother, using the words of Jesus found in Matthew 23: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!…How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings… (then to thy need God as a mother doth speed, spreading the wings of grace o’er thee).
This week, thank the Lord for his amazing providence! Pray that he continually remind us of his presence in our lives, that we may thank him for being our health and salvation.
Each week Dr. Katie Moss, Organist and Director of Handbells, provides us with a short devotion and closer look at a hymn we’ll sing at the Traditions Worship at 8:45 am.
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