He Hideth My Soul
Did you have a favorite hymn when you were a child? For me it was He Hideth My Soul, and it is still in my top 10 favorite hymns. As I think through the lyrics now, they are so rich and meaningful to me as an adult, but I’m not exactly sure what drew me to this hymn as a child as young as 5 years old. I just remember it was always my request when we had Sunday evening hymn sings.
No matter what our age, any believer could relate to the opening lines of the song, “A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, a wonderful Savior to me.” It is a statement that should be at the beginning of our personal testimonies, when we share with others why we have faith in the Lord. If someone were to ask you, “Why do you believe in this Jesus stuff”, what would you say? Being saved is SO much more than a ticket out of hell, it’s a relationship with our Redeemer. How is He a wonderful Savior to you?
As I think back to my childhood memories of this song I recall having pictures in my mind as I sang it. I could see myself on a very high place overlooking a barren land, and having God’s hand cover me. Since I’d lived most of my short life in the lush green vistas of rural Ohio and Illinois, I have no idea where my mind images came from, unless it was those pictures the Sunday school teachers of that era used to illustrate their lessons. But I remember that the song made me feel secure and comforted by the shielding hand of God.
How about in your life? What are those times when you have felt shielded by the hand of God? When has His covering comforted or protected you? What were those barren or threatening times where you felt Him protecting you under the shadow of His wing? Is He doing it now? How long has it been since you expressed your gratitude and praised Him for His tender watch, care and protection over you?
This song hearkens back to Moses’ encounter with the glory of God on the mountain. God had agreed to Moses’ request to show him His glory, but God warned Moses that he couldn’t look at that glory (the glory of His goodness) head on or it would kill him. God let Moses peek at the back of His goodness while He shielded him in the cleft of the rock. When we think of it, God was actually shielding Moses from Himself. He wanted to encourage Moses’ desire to know God more, but kindly put limits on the experience because He understood what a mere mortal could endure. Has there ever been a time when you’ve had the sense that God was shielding you from Himself? Whether it is His goodness, love, holiness or discipline—whatever aspect there is of God, it is so potent in its undiluted form that He often has to filter it down into a human-sized dose for us to be able to endure it, or we would wilt under the weight of it.
He does this because He is hiding us “in the depths of His love.” Whatever comes our way, whatever it is from which we need to be sheltered, we know that He allows it, He sends it, He permits it, He limits it, and He protects us because He loves us. Even what man may mean for evil, God intends for good, so whatever our circumstance, God’s work in our lives at that point is intended for good, and flowing with His love. Paul tells us that God works everything together for our good, because He loves us, and He has purposes in all He takes us through. There is no meaningless or random hardship in our lives. Even the hard times are hidden in the depths of His love.
Fanny Crosby, the author of these lyrics, knew her share of hardship. Although she was blind physically, her spiritual eyes saw clearly that the goodness of God far outstrips this troubled world. She envisioned the day when “Clothed in His brightness, transported I rise to meet Him in clouds of the skies. His perfect salvation, His wonderful love, I’ll shout with the millions on high.” These words are so rich with meaning. First we will clothed in His brightness, not our own. Our own righteousness is filthy rags in comparison to what He gives us. We will be clothed in the brightness of His grace and holiness, through no merit of our own.
Next we are reminded that He will transport us, moving us from death to life eternal. All that is old, sorrowful, and sinful will end, and we will finally experience what He intended for mankind; full, loving union with the Godhead. What we’ve only glimpsed dimly as we have held on to His promises by faith we will finally experience in its fullness.
The clouds Crosby mentions are often associated in Scriptures with God’s glory. We have been told that Jesus would return “in the clouds”—in glory! It was His express prayer throughout John 17 that His disciples, including us, would see His glory and would experience it with Him. One day we will see it face to face. We will see Him as He is, and we will, as Crosby says, shout praise for His salvation and love. At that point, with unveiled faces, we will finally get it. At last! It will probably feel as if we are seeing for the first time, and it will be glorious!
This sweet song is a great reminder of what a wonderful Savior we have. It comforts us with the truth that because He loves us, He covers us. He hides us—as Paul says, “We are hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). And it points us to our heavenly hope, that together with “the millions on high” we will sing with all of our hearts about His love and salvation. A wonderful Savior IS Jesus my Lord!