One night as I listened through some hymns on my phone while trying to fall asleep, I heard the familiar hymn, “How Firm a Foundation” from the Bob Jones University Singers’ CD, “God of Mercy.” The first stanza says:
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word.
What more can He say than to you He hath said
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
As I listened to the rest of the song, this particular arrangement by Dan Forrest repeated that phrase, “What more can He say,” in-between the rest of the verses. I either hadn’t noticed before or had forgotten that each stanza is based on specific Scripture texts. That repeated question, “What more can He say,” drove home the message that God’s Word has given us everything we need to know Him and live for Him.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire (2 Peter 1:3-4).
Did you catch that? “All things that pertain to life and godliness.” All things. Through the knowledge of Him . . . by His precious and very great promises.
What more can He say, indeed?
People have a tendency to always be on the lookout for something new. That’s not necessarily wrong. We enjoy new clothes, decorations, music. Books have been written on the same subjects for hundreds of years, but we want to read contemporary authors.
Yet when it comes to truth, we don’t need to look for anything new. Oh, we’ll always learn new things from God’s Word. We need frequent reminders of what we’ve already learned from it. We’ll never master it completely til we get to heaven. And in that case, why do we seek new revelation when we neglect or haven’t mined the depths of what we already have?
Let’s renew our efforts to “look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16). God knows the end from the beginning. He knew thousands of years ago what we would need today.
Just for fun, I thought I’d share some of the passages that the verses of “How Firm a Foundation” are based on. The song was published in 1787 in a collection put together by John Rippon, but the author is only referred to as “K” according to Wikipedia. I wish I knew how to put this into a side-by-side chart, but this will have to do.
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-27).
Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens (Psalm 119:89).
“Fear not, I am with thee, oh be not dismayed;
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.”
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you (Isaiah 43:2).
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7).
And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, “The Lord is my God” (Zechariah 13:9).
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:10).
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
Be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5b-6)
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).
There are more passages that reflect these truths, but these are the ones that seem to most fit the wording. There are a couple of other stanzas added later by the Mormon church, but I want to stick with “K’s” original writing.
I couldn’t find a video or clip of this beautiful arrangement from the CD I mentioned in the first paragraph. But I did find this video of another choir singing it. You can’t see much, but they do a beautiful job. And you can hear the repeated “What more can He say?”
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Choral music is just my absolute favorite, and I’m so grateful for the church’s great legacy of hymns.
Thank you for sharing the Scripture verses “How Firm A Foundation” is based on. That always was one of my dad’s favorite hymns. You made me smile remembering him this morning. And the verse from 2 Corinthians is one of my favorites.
Outstanding, Barbara! Will share at our nursing-home Bible Time this week as well as on Facebook. I often play this hymn for our Christian Music Hour just because of that line, but I’ve never bothered to look into the lyrics in any depth. Thank you for doing so!
My son-in-law plays in the worship band at his church and it always brings a smile to my face to hear him practice and play these songs. #Senisal
Wonderful lyric — and such a comforting thought, that He really has told us everything we need to know to live this life.
A beautiful breakdown of the lyrics, Barbara. I’ve head this hymn all my adult life but never really pondered the lyrics much.
What a beautiful song with such a strong message. Jesus is the truth, and he never changes.
Barbara, thank you so much for the reminder that we don’t need to be constantly looking for the “new” when it comes to learning God’s will for our lives…how to live out our lives. The Bible includes it all if we take the time to do more than breeze through a passage or so a day, but really take our time to meditate and study those passages. He put it all there for us. I love this hymn…it is one from my childhood days. My grandparents bought me a little organ when I was probably 10 or so and one of the books that came with it was one of hymns. How Firm a Foundation was one of the hymns in the book.
Ahhh, Barbara, reading the Bible verses that support each verse of the song is beautiful. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard this song in its entirety. The choral selection you shared here is beautiful.
What an inspiring post!
I know God must use up a lot of his patience with me when I ask the same things again and again when he’s already told me the answer. 🙂
This is one of my favorite hymns! I never focused before on “what more can He say”, but indeed what a powerful phrase, and so much encouragement!
Thanks so much for sharing the scripture verses that go along with the hymn.
Oh and great minds think alike. My post this week was developed based off of this very hymn!
Barbara! I have that CD—God of Mercy by the BJU singers!!! Love How Firm a Foundation! Thank you for this great, comprehensive post. This was an encouragement to me today!
Pinned and will share to the IE Facebook.
Thank you for linking up at InstaEncouragements!
It’s always interesting to look at how the lyrics of a song are rooted in Scripture, and it’s true that can be easy to be on the look-out for something new when what we should be doing is going deeper with what we already have!
Amen, God’s word has everything we need!
A really terrific mini-study, Barbara. I was just at a friend’s house and he was so impressed hearing a story about a psychic who’d “predicted” the coronavirus in 2020 and its outcome. And I thought about all the promises that God has fulfilled and the many more to come. This post reminds me that He /has/ said and done so much already, but we can be so blind.
Thank you as always Barbara for going to the effort to share your wonderfully upbeat message with the rest of us. In these pressing times we could all do with a little positivity. It is greatly appreciated and thank you for sharing with all the readers on #globalblogging
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