Today at church we sang the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Honestly, I have lately come to appreciate the older hymns much more. While there are some great modern worship songs, it is hard to find modern songs with theology and Christian teaching as deep as the older hymns.
One stanza of the hymn above always makes me stop and think and pray. It goes like this:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
This one stanza has so much in it. The central image is one of wandering away from God. I know I’m not alone in this; it seems to be an ongoing battle to keep my mind and heart focused on God. It is all too easy for me to get caught up in other things, to get sidetracked by busy-ness, or to have some reason to begin to pull away from God.
I am truly “prone to wander” and “prone to leave the God I love.” Notice, it is not about being unsaved, as we still love God. But there are so many things competing for our hearts. Some are good, but unnecessary, while some are sinful. (See Hebrews 12:1, which speaks of “weights” and seems to set them as something separate from “sin.”)
The wonderful news is that we have God as our shepherd. Isaiah 53:6 says that “[a]ll we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (ESV) While this primarily refers to our state prior to repentance, we know from Psalm 23 that we are still like sheep. We are told that God’s rod and staff should comfort us (Psalm 23:4). One of the primary purposes of a shepherd’s rod was to guide sheep and keep them from wandering. Oh, how we need God’s guidance every day!
The solution is in the first part of the stanza. We are “daily constrained” to be debtors to God’s grace. God’s grace is not something that we need only at salvation, but we rely on it every day to keep us walking in God’s ways (see Titus 2:11-12).
The hymn writer asks God for the only solution: We need God, in and with His goodness, to bind our wandering heart to Himself like a “fetter,” a chain used to restrain someone. We need to be restrained and kept “chained” to God, and only He can do it.
We have great promises in Scripture that God will keep us for Himself. “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3) “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24)
May we make this stanza of the hymn our prayer.