Hymn: The King of Love My Shepherd Is

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1


The King of Love My Shepherd Is

by Henry W. Baker *

The King of love my Shepherd is,

Whose goodness faileth never,

I nothing lack if I am His

And He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow

My ransomed soul He leadeth,

And where the verdant pastures grow,

With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,

But yet in love He sought me,

And on His shoulder gently laid,

And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill

With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;

Thy rod and staff my comfort still,

Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread’st a table in my sight;

Thy unction grace bestoweth;

And O what transport of delight

From Thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days

Thy goodness faileth never;

Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise

Within Thy house forever.

* Sir Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877) was the eldest son of Admiral Sir Henry Loraine Baker. He was educated at Trinity College and took Holy Orders in 1844. Sir Henry’s name is intimately associated with hymnody. One of his earliest compositions was the very beautiful hymn, “Oh! what if we are Christ’s,” which he contributed to Murray’s Hymnal for the Use of the English Church, 1852. His hymns, including metrical litanies and translations, number 33 in all. The last audible words which lingered on his dying lips were the third stanza of his exquisite rendering of the 23rd Psalm, “The King of Love, my Shepherd is”:

Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed,

But yet in love He sought me,

And on His Shoulder gently laid,

And home, rejoicing, brought me.

This tender sadness, brightened by a soft calm peace, epitomized his poetical life. (This hymn was sung at the fun­er­al of Di­a­na, Prin­cess of Wales, in West­min­ster Ab­bey, Lon­don, Sep­tem­ber 6, 1997.)


A Believer Objects – “But I’m OK!”


In the 1960s, a pop psychology book titled I’m OK-You’re OK by Thomas A. Harris topped the NYT best-seller list for years. It promoted healthy human relations based on transactional negotiations between individuals of various personality types. Fifty years later, this transactional concept of human relations permeates American society. Children are taught to use self-acceptance, self-love, self-worth, and other concepts to build up their half of the transaction (“I’m OK”). The result after fifty years is an American population characterized by conceit, pride, and self-importance. In spite of this mantra of self-love, few people are truly content. We would be forced to admit to ourselves (maybe reluctantly)—“I’m not OK!” In light of our sinful nature, this has never been a popular view.

In  this short piece, Jeremiah Burroughs (he lived 1599-1646) points us to another aspect of his formula for spiritual contentment that is completely opposite from the transactional model promoted by Harris—“I’m not OK! I am the problem!” King Solomon observed what life was like “under the sun,” a term for a life apart from God. Vain, empty, worthless, pointless, hopeless describes a person (and a society) who has pushed God out of his/her thoughts.

“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. ‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?” Ecclesiastes 1:1-3 (NKJV)

Burroughs offers this insight:

“The vanity of the creature—Whatever there is in the creature has an emptiness to it. ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,’ is the lesson that a wise man learned; the creature in itself can do us no good; it is all but as wind. There is nothing in the creature that is suitable for a gracious heart to feed upon for its good or happiness. My brethren, the reason why you have not got contentment in the things of this world is not because you have not got enough of them—that is not the reason—but the reason is, because they are not things proportionable [suitable, appropriate] to that immortal soul of yours that is capable of God Himself.

“You would be happy and you seek after such and such comforts in the creature. Well, have you got them? Do you find your hearts satisfied as having the happiness that is suitable to you? No, no, it is not here but you think that is because you lack such and such things. O poor deluded man! It is not because you have not got enough of it, but because it is not the thing that is proportionable to the immortal soul that God has given you. ‘Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?’ (Isaiah 55:2) You are mad people. You seek to satisfy your stomach with that which is not bread, you follow the wind; you will never have contentment.”

The glorified Jesus Christ said this to the Laodicean church: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, ‘I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;’ and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” Revelation 3:16-17

Hymn: Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah

This beloved hymn describes the experience of God’s people in their travel through the wilderness from their escape from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12–14), being guided by a cloud by day and a fire by night (Exodus 13:17–22) to their final arrival forty years later at the border of the Promised Land of Canaan (Joshua 3). During this time, their needs were supplied by God, including their daily supply of manna (Exodus 16).

The hymn text forms an allegory for the journey of a Christian through life on earth requiring the Redeemer’s guidance and ending at the gates of Heaven (the verge of Jordan) and the end of time (death of death and hell’s destruction).

Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah *

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,

pilgrim through this barren land.

I am weak, but thou art mighty;

hold me with thy powerful hand.

Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,

feed me till I want no more;

feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,

whence the healing stream doth flow;

let the fire and cloudy pillar

lead me all my journey through.

Strong deliverer, strong deliverer,

be thou still my strength and shield;

be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,

bid my anxious fears subside;

death of death and hell’s destruction,

land me safe on Canaan’s side.

Songs of praises, songs of praises,

I will ever give to thee;

I will ever give to thee.

* Hymn background:

William Williams Pantycelyn is generally acknowledged as the greatest Welsh hymn writer. The lyrics for the Welsh original of this hymn were first published as Hymn 10 in the hymnal Mor o Wydr (Sea of Glass) in 1762. It comprised six verses. [See below for a literal translation from the Welsh of the original six verses.]

Peter Williams (1722–1796) translated part of the hymn into the familiar three stanzas of the English version, with the title Prayer for Strength. It was published in Hymns on Various Subjects, 1771. This translation is the only Welsh hymn to have gained widespread circulation in the English-speaking world.

John Hughes wrote the present version of the tune, which he called “Rhondda”, for the Cymanfa Ganu (hymn festival) in Pontypridd in 1905, when enthusiasm of the great 1904–1905 Welsh Revival still remained. The form was developed further and published for the inauguration of the organ at Capel Rhondda, in Hopkinstown in the Welsh Rhondda Valley, in 1907. (The hymn is usually pitched in A-flat major and has the measure which is common in Welsh hymns.)

 The hymn was featured prominently in the soundtrack to the 1941 film How Green Was My Valley, directed by John Ford and starring a young Roddy McDowall. The soundtrack, by Alfred Newman, won that year’s Academy Award for Original Music Score. It is also featured at the beginning of The African Queen (film), with Katharine Hepburn singing and playing the organ in her part as a missionary’s daughter.  The hymn was also the informal anthem of Wales in the “Green and Pleasant Land” section of the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.

Translation of the lyrics for the hymn originally titled in Welsh

Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch.

(“Lord, lead me through the wilderness”)

Lord, guide me through the wilderness,

A pilgrim weak of aspect,

There is neither strength nor life in me,

As though lying in the grave,


It is Thou who shalt take me to that shore.

I wandered for long years,

And saw not the break of dawn;

I despaired, without Thy strength,

Ever to leave the desert land;

Do Thou grant,

The occasion to escape.

Give Thou a pillar of fire to lead me in the night,

And a pillar of mist in the day,

Hold me when I travel places

Which are rough on the way,

Give me manna,

Thus shall I not despair.

Open the sweet springs

Which gush forth from the rock,

All across the great wilderness

May a river of healing grace follow:

Give this to me

Not for me but for Thy sake.

When I go through Jordan –

Cruel death in its force –

Thou Thyself suffered this before,

Why shall I fear further?


Let me cry out in the torrent.

I shall trust in Thy power,

Great is the work that Thou hast always done,

Thou conquered death, Thou conquered hell,

Thou hast crushed Satan beneath Thy feet,

Hill of Calvary,

This shall never escape from my memory.

The Life Crucified

The Life Crucified

A.B. Simpson *

“There is a school of teachers who say much about Christian socialism and the application of Christ’s example to the practical details of all our social and secular questions. But these men stop short of Calvary and leave out the view that great event which is the key of all Scripture and all Christian hope and experience. And so very soon in this deeply spiritual first epistle John introduces that expression which bids men pause with a hush of holy awe and tenderness—‘the Blood.’

“John had hardly started his letter before two deep crimson shades had covered all the page: the one the dark stain of sin, the other the precious blood of Christ. ‘…the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from sin.’ (I John 1:7) This is the great fact of the cross of Calvary and the resurrection. The death of Jesus Christ, the life so divine, so human, so beautiful, laid down in sacrifice and self-surrender, was not only as an example of submission, teaching us how to die; but a ransom for the guilty and satisfaction to the righteousness of God for the sins of men.

“With all his deep insight into the spirit and life of Jesus, John, above all disciples, recognized the sacrificial meaning of His blood. ‘Behold the Lamb of God’ [John 1:29, 36] seems to ring out as the undertone of his beautiful Gospel. ‘The blood of Jesus Christ’ is the background of his epistles. ‘To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood’ is the keynote of the oft-repeated redemption song of his sublime Apocalypse. [Revelation 1:5b] The blood of Jesus Christ just means His life, with all its infinite value, given as a substitute and ransom for our forfeited life.

“The death of Christ stands for a great and potential fact, and is of no value until faith enters into partnership with Him in that fact, and knows by personal appropriation ‘the fellowship of His sufferings.’ [Philippians 3:10] The death of Christ simply means for me that when He died I died, and in God’s view I am now as if I had been executed for my own sin and was now recognized as another person who has risen with Christ and is justified from his former sins because he has been executed for them. Not only so it is the secret of my sanctification, for on that cross of Calvary, I the sinful self, was put to death; and when I lay myself over with Him upon that cross and reckon myself dead, [Romans 6:3-14] Christ’s risen life pass unto me and it is no longer my struggling, my goodness, or my badness, but my Lord who lives in me. Therefore, while I abide in Him I am counted even as He, and enabled to walk even as He walked.” [Galatians 2:20]


* Albert Benjamin Simpson (1843-1919), author, hymn-writer, conference speaker, was an evangelist to the urban masses of New York City and a missionary statesman. Among his enduring achievements was the founding of the Christian Missionary Alliance and what is now Nyack College.


A Wealthy Believer Objects

“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”  II Corinthians 4:10-11

Last week we saw how two wealthy believers reacted differently to the sudden loss of their wealth. The carnal man became depressed and discontented while the spiritual man remained content because he understood God’s purpose. Today, Jeremiah Burroughs addresses an objection of the carnal man who was distressed at his loss – Why did this happen to me? I could serve God better with my wealth if He had let me keep it!

The carnal man’s objection misses God’s ultimate purpose in the lives of believers. While God certainly wants us to honor Him with what He has given us (wealth, health, skills, intelligence, social status, etc.), that is not His higher purpose: to manifest Jesus Christ in the world. regardless of our wealth, health, skills, intelligence, social status, etc. The fact is that God doesn’t need those things to reveal who He is to those around us. God wants to work in and through us to make His glory known to the world and to draw souls to Himself. The spiritual man in Burrough’s illustration understands God’s purpose.

“You must know that the special honor which God has from his creatures in this world is the manifestation of the graces of his Spirit. It is true that God gets a great deal of honor when a man is in a public place, and so is able to do a great deal of good, to countenance godlessness, and discountenance sin, but the main thing is in our showing forth the virtues of him who has called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light. (I Peter 2:9b)

“If I can say that, through God’s mercy in my affliction, I find the graces of God’s Spirit working as strongly in me as ever they did when I had my wealth, I am where I was; indeed, I am in quite as good a condition, for I have the same good now that I had in my prosperous estate. I reckoned the good of it only in my enjoyment of God, and honoring of God, and now God has blessed the lack of it to stir up the graces of his Spirit in my soul.

“This is the work that God calls me to now, and I must consider God to be the most honored when I do the work that he calls me to; he set me to work in my prosperous estate to honor him at that time in that condition, and now he sets me to work to honor him at this time in this condition; God is most honored when I can turn from one condition to another, according as he calls me to it.”

Hymn: Complete in Thee

One of the keys to learning spiritual contentment is knowing that we have all that we need for life and godliness. (II Peter 1:3) The second thing is that we are eternally settled in our position in Christ through faith in His shed blood on the cross. We are complete in Him and thus have every reason to be content in Him!

Complete in Thee

by Aaron Robarts Wolfe *

Complete in Thee! no work of mine

May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And I am now complete in Thee.


Yea, justified! O blessed thought!

And sanctified! Salvation wrought!

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And glorified, I too, shall be!

Complete in Thee! no more shall sin,

Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;

Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,

And I shall stand complete in Thee. (Refrain)

Complete in Thee–each want supplied,

And no good thing to me denied;

Since Thou my portion, Lord, wilt be,

I ask no more, complete in Thee. (Refrain)

Dear Saviour! when before Thy bar

All tribes and tongues assembled are,

Among Thy chosen will I be,

At Thy right hand, complete in Thee. (Refrain)

* Aaron Robarts Wolfe (1821–1902) was born at Mendham, New Jersey and educated at Williams College and the Union Theological Seminary, New York. In 1851, he was licensed by the Third Presbytery of New York. For some time he had charge of a school for young ladies at Tallahassee, Florida; and in 1859 he established “The Hillside Seminary for Young Ladies” at Montclair, New Jersey.

      He gave his friends this account of an in­ci­dent which seriously shaped his later life and made “Complete in Thee” a personal hymn: When he left Flo­ri­da in the sum­mer of 1855 he put all his ef­fects—lib­ra­ry, notes, and things of that sort—on board a sail­ing-ves­sel, and with a sim­ple grip­sack re­turned North by way of Nash­ville and Chi­ca­go. Reaching New York af­ter some two weeks spent in jour­ney­ing, he sought his goods at the com­mis­sion house to which they had been con­signed. There he learned that, on the day ap­point­ed for sail­ing, the ves­sel with his goods had been struck by light­ning, the mate killed at the foot of the mast, and the ves­sel, la­den with tur­pen­tine, burned to the wa­ter’s edge. Books, papers, notes, ev­ery­thing of past trea­sure had gone up in smoke.

     Aaron Wolfe looked up­on this event as a spe­cial pro­vi­dence of God, shap­ing his life, and fix­ing his home. For it made him a teach­er of the young ra­ther than a pas­tor of a church; and soon the way was op­ened for the be­gin­ning of one of the most use­ful en­gage­ments with Dr. Ab­bott, and so his life was fa­shioned…Thus the Lord made up his pet­ty loss­es by a rich re­ward.


(Personal note: When I was a teenager, and not saved, a tragic house fire resulted in loss of most of our family’s possessions and shaped the lives of each member of my family. My father worked for Pan American Airways in Jamaica when our family house was burned to the ground by an arsonist and we lost almost everything. Some photos, papers, and valuables stored in a metal box to preserve them from the tropical humidity were the only possessions that survived. Now that I have been saved for more than forty years, I look back and see how much this loss shaped my early life. Worldly goods may have less of a grip on my life today because of that incident years ago even before I came to Christ. God has been faithful in everything and I know that I am complete in Him.)