How Great Thou Art
“How Great Thou Art” is a treasured hymn of praise among God’s people. The inspiration came from a Swedish poem entitled “O Store Gud”, which means “O Great God.” It was written in 1886 by a preacher named Carl Boberg. His inspiration for “O Great God” came from a visit to a beautiful country estate on the south-east coast of Sweden. He got caught up in a midday thunderstorm with awe-inspiring moments of flashing violence, followed by a clear
brilliant sun. Soon afterwards he heard the calm, sweet songs of the birds in nearby trees.
The experience prompted Boberg to fall on his knees in humble adoration of his mighty God and the words of Psalm 145: 3 flowed through his mind like a calm river, “Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Later Stuart K.
Hine brought the English translation, “How Great Thou Art” with the music arrangement to light. And on any day we affirm as we sing, “Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art.” As I was thinking of Scripture passages and
themes for today's sermon it came to me that we live in a time where we are held prisoner by our circumstances, world events and thoughts that put us in a state of depression. What do we think of when we wake in the morning? Is it first of all of God that we think? That He blesses us and give us all the provisions for our lives; that because He is with us we can give the one step before the other? Or is it true that we think first of all about Covid that some people say can still be with us for years to come? Perhaps we think of conflict in our world like in Ukraine and we wonder if world peace is going to be just something you can dream about. No my friends, we have to meditate like David did when he meditated about God's works and faithfulness and then wrote about it in Psalm 145.
First David tells us that 1 Generations Commend God’s Works. David sat down and contemplated the works of God as he wrote this Psalm. We read in verses 4 and 5, “One generation commends Your works to another; they tell of Your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendour of Your majesty – and I will meditate on Your
wonderful works.” There were thoughts in his mind about how God’s works in His creation. And it was not just in this psalm David thought about God’s creation. No, most of his psalms, like psalm 8 where he talked about the work of God’s fingers and psalm 23, where we read
about waters and pastures and valleys, were about God’s creation. I think we all can relate to those things we see on God’s earth. There is something wonderful in God's creation we all can think about – something different for each one of us. Some would think of the mountains; others would think of the seasons that God can colour in His splendour. Then some would think of the rivers running through and the wild life. A Christian marine biologist was asked
what fascinated him the most about his profession. He answered, “Day by day I discover something great to be in awe to God.” How true it is my friends, we are brought to the point to
“O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder, Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made; I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee, How great Thou art, How
great Thou art.”
David also remembered 2 The Works Of God In The Lives Of His People. He exclaimed in verse 7, “They celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness.” To Him that was the real reason for acknowledging God for His greatness. He had given deliverance to His people from Egypt; He took care of them in the wilderness and He gave them a land to make their own. If it wasn’t for the works of God in their lives, they would have perished. The same is true of us. God took care of us and before us there were generations and generations He took care of. And you know often God wants us to look back just as He told His people to look at memorials or altars that were built and to remember how He delivered His people. I always think of a generation in Obberammergau that had the threat of a serious virus wiping out the whole population...and the they vowed to God to have the Passion Play performed every 10 years. God spared them and the Passion Play is still performed. We have the wonderful assurance....God will continue to take care of His people. You see, there are those who want to take God out of the picture and they say that in this age of man people will take care of themselves. That is the greatest lie that can ever be told to any generation. God is just as in control as He has been from the beginning of time. We can count on His goodness.
David tells us that 3 God Is Great In His Grace And Love. In verse 8 we read, “The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” David first thought of his own life – of how he sinned and got to be self-righteous. Fame went to his head, but he came back to earth faster than what he could ever imagine. When his heart was
filled with remorse, He received God’s grace freely. The man who was supposed to be expelled from God’s presence received pardon. God had compassion on him when he thought his Lord was never going to take him back.. David thought of the children of Israel as
well. They had disappointed God immensely. They deserved to be left in the wilderness to perish, but again and again God forgave them. His love and compassion for sinful people never ceased. We too have received God’s grace in our personal lives, in our families and for us as a family of God. Can we ever count the number of times we confessed our sins on Sunday mornings and other times we worshipped or came together to pray? There are those who would think that it a senseless cycle – you sin, feel bad about it, you pray to God and then you do it over and over again. No, my friends, with David we rejoice in the fact that our God is gracious and compassionate. Each time it's a wonderful grace that He is willing to
forgive us; each day He will make us new and remove our sins as far as the east is from the west. Do you agree with me? Our generation is so plagued with guilt that people never feel the freedom to live. They try and find solutions for all their troubles, but all the have to do is to come before God with remorse and He will restore them. Why can we believe that? You see, David didn't have a perfect life. He sinned so many times and sometimes he thought that his
sins were unforgivable – like the sin of adultery with Bathsheba and murder when he made sure her husband Uriah wouldn't return from war. But God forgave him...he was still the man after God's heart.
My friends, we are not perfect people, but we stand under God's grace. He praise Him for His works, His provisions and His favour. Put your trust in Him...let Him be your guide.
Rev. Willem H. van de Wall