Exegesis of a Great Hymn

greatisthyfaithfulnessplgI’ve never done this before, at least not in a blog. In my mind and in my worship, I do it frequently.

What I’m going to do is exegete (expound/interpret) a hymn. Not just any hymn, but one of the very greatest of hymns. The hymn I’m talking about is “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

What makes a hymn a great hymn? Or what makes a worship song a great worship song? My answer is that a hymn or worship song is great when it speaks loudly of God Himself … of His attributes and of His character. A great hymn is not about human beings—about what we want or need, or about what we think. A great hymn is about God. It’s about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, about His incomparable Being.

So here are the words of a very great hymn:

Great is Thy faithfulness, oh God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

This verse speaks of God as Father. Jesus taught us to view God as our Father in heaven, One who cares about us, provides for us, watches over us, and One who loves and disciplines us.

He is faithful. He always acts consistently with His word, and with His own nature. He always acts like Himself

He doesn’t change. The theological term is that He is Immutable. James referred to the immutability of God as he wrote about the fact that perfect and good gifts come our way from the Father … and in Him is no variation. He “does not change like shifting shadows” (NIV). 

He is compassionate, which also means that He is merciful. True mercy is feeling the plight of the sufferer, and then doing something to alleviate that suffering. God is merciful and gracious (Exodus 34:6). 

Whatever He is, He is eternally that. Whatever He has been in the past is what He shall be in the future. The same God who sent His Son 2,000 years ago feels the same way about us today. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. 

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love. 

This verse is referenced in Genesis 8:22, where the LORD promised that He would maintain the consistency of seasons, daytime and nighttime, seedtime and harvest. 

It also speaks of the constancy of the cosmos, without which mankind could not live on the earth and life would not be sustainable. All of these so-called natural phenomena are not actually natural at all. They are, in fact, super-natural (above the natural). God does these things for us that we might rely upon a world of order, designed by Him. 

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! 

God forgives sins. He forgives a lifetime of sins for the new convert to Christ; He forgives the sins of believers who confess and walk in the light (1 John 1:9). He does these things because He is gracious, because He desires relationship with His creatures.  

He maintains His Presence in our lives because He is for us and nothing can separate us from His great love (Romans 8:31-39).  Our consciousness of His Presence is the source of our greatest joys and victories (Exodus 33:14-16; Ephesians 3:19). 

He gives us life and power as we need it, one day at a time (Lamentations 3:22,23; Isaiah 40:29; Matthew 6:34). 

He is a God of blessing, and infinitely so. He does exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or even think (Ephesians 3:20). 

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness,
Great is Thy faithfulness,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me! 

His faithfulness is constant, it is regular, it is daily. It is doled out in 24-hour increments, that we might continue to come to Him in dependent trust. He is our Provider for all things physical, emotional, and spiritual. 

He is the One, the only, awe-inspiring God.

Great is His faithfulness.

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