Timeless Greatness Of God

“O God Our Help In Ages Past” – Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

My favourite end of year hymn on the human condition, setting the shortness of life and the littleness of human beings against the timeless greatness of God…. who has been our help [in the past] and hope [in the future].

Psalm 90 is the foundation for “O God Our Help In Ages Past.”

“Lord you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations” (Psalm 90:1). In other words, we are secure in the knowledge that God has been there for us. And our hope does not waver with the knowledge that He is with us now and in the future.

When a “stormy blast” comes, I will always rely on God’s presence and promises, not on a New Year’s resolution.

The great stream of time rolls on, carrying with it myriads of human beings with all their cares and fears. No minute passes but some are borne away. Almost every day from among ourselves one and another go from us; one from this household, and another from that.

In our weakness and frailty, and amid all the changes and chances of this transitory life, even as a child turns to its parent in trouble and distress, so must we in our helplessness cast ourselves upon our God.

Vain is the help of man, but in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting love and sympathy, and help and strength.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defence is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while life shall last,
And our eternal home.


Fierce winds blow, lightning flashes, and thunder cracks so loudly it shakes your home. That kind of storm makes us quake with fear and wonder how we’ll ever survive. And that’s the kind of storm we feel each time another terrorist strikes, or a job is lost, or a loved one dies.

In the midst of such storms, our hearts can find hope in the words of “O God Our Help in Ages Past.” As the hymn writer states, God is “our shelter from the stormy blast.” No matter what tragedy strikes, no matter what leaves us devastated, God can protect us.

But how can we be so sure that God is there in the storm? The hymn answers that question in these words, “from everlasting you are God, to endless years the same.”

God doesn’t change. He guided the Israelites safely to the Promised Land. He raised Jesus from the dead. And when we look at our own past, we’ll always notice the same thing: God was there to see us through the storms. Knowing that, we can live with hope that he’ll protect us in the present too.

What storms shake you today? Maybe you feel like an emotional wreck. Maybe you’re fighting tough spiritual battles. Maybe your family circumstances have spiraled out of control. But no matter what “stormy blast” may be swirling around you, hold on to the promise of this hymn. Let the truth of Psalm 90 be your strength for you just as it was for Isaac Watts so long ago. You can be confident that God will see you through.

Happy New Year friends!


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