I love old hymns. Their words are so rich and full of truths. Every word is thought through and chosen deliberately in order to accurately relate theological truths.
I thought I’d take some time to go through one of my favorites: Amazing Grace.
This song is so familiar to so many people, that sometimes the meaning is lost in the familiarity of the tune, or the feeling of the person singing.
Let’s look at each verse, and the meaning that is present.
Verse 1 is the description of the complete transforming power of the Gospel, the good news! The message of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, that was done on behalf of sinful humanity so that we may be righteous before the Holy One, that is God the Father. It is Amazing Grace, because we can do nothing to deserve God’s love, nothing to deserve Christ’s pardoning death on the cross, nothing to deserve to be called righteous and acceptable before God, but by His grace it is all given to us.
How sweet the sound indeed!
Verse 2 is a reflection of a Christian back on that first day of belief, that first moment of faith in that amazing grace. The grace of God teaches the Christian to fear the Lord God, rather than to hate Him (for there is no such thing as indifference towards God). It is also that grace and that awe of God that relieves all our fears. Why? Because when our eyes are fixed on a holy, mighty, all-powerful, sovereign, loving, merciful, gracious, true God the fears that clutter our hearts and minds can be swept away and entrusted to this kind of God. When the Christian is fully believing God is who He says He is in His Word, then fearing anything that is in this world just doesn’t make sense. I’m not saying that therefore, Christians should never be afraid or worry about anything, but I am saying that Christians have the gracious gift of being able to put all those fears on the one who knows not only our current situation, but also who is in charge of orchestrating the outcome!
Psalm 56:2-3 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”
Verse 3 is a reflection on the more recent events in the Christian’s life. Things do not always go smoothly, that is how life works, in fact, Jesus promised difficulties would come to Christians because of their belief in Him. BUT, just as verse 3 states, His grace is steadfast, sealed by His Spirit within us, as we endure difficulties and suffering.
Verse 4 is a transition of thought for the hymnist, even in the midst of all the “dangers, toils, and snares” of this life, they focus on the truth God has promised in His Word.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
This good isn’t material wealth or physical health or temporary happiness, because that would be completely contradictory to the theme of the hymn (and contradictory to the Bible). The second half of the verse makes this clear: “He will my shield and portion be”, meaning Christ will be my protection and my provision(s), He will be all I need in life, He is the Good in which my hope is secure, because of his Amazing Grace!
Verse 5 is a view to the end of the tunnel. No matter what you believe, or what you do in this life, there is an end. Death is real, and unavoidable. For the Christian, this is a glorious thing! The previous three verses have described this life as being full of fear, difficulties, and nothing good. For the Christian, death means eternal peace and joy at last. Why? See verse 6!
Verse 6 is what will bring everlasting joy and peace to the soul: being in the presence of God forever. There is no end to eternity! There is only a beginning, that beginning is in verse 1, when the Christian first heard the sweet sound of God’s grace. In heaven, Christians will sing that sweet sound back to God forever and ever.
Revelation 4:8 “… ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come’.”
See what I mean? So much truth packed into just 6 couplets!
Soli Deo Gloria!