Under the shadow of thy throne,
thy saints have dwelt secure;
sufficient is thine arm alone,
and our defense 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 guide while troubles last,
and our eternal home!
Words by Isaac Watts, 1719
Music by William Croft, 1708
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your ancestors? Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.
But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children,
It seems that many Christians and many churches today seem to think they live in a vacuum. We come together and sing our contemporary songs about what Jesus has done for me and how I feel about Him (I am not criticizing contemporary music simply making an observation). We look at what does the Bible say to me in my situation. But we fail to realize an important truth. We are not the first generation of believers.
Now this may seem obvious to us, but stop and think about it. For two-thousand years, Christians have worshiped God and followed Christ. We can then stretch beyond this to thousands of years before as the nation of Israel worshiped God.
Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Billy Graham and the list can go on. Generation after generation of those who had turned to God. A God who saw them through times of struggle and remained a constant hope.
So, when we forget those who have come before, what happens when we find ourselves facing problems. Many times we feel that we are alone and do not know where to turn. It is especially at these times, that it becomes important that we remember. Remember that the world did not start with our earliest memories. Remember that the God we can turn to is the the God that has been worshiped for years before. The God who is “from everlasting to everlasting.”(Psalm 103:17)
This is the essence of the message of Isaac Watts’ famous paraphrase of Psalm 90, “O God, Our Help In Ages Past.”
You see nothing that we face is new. As Solomon wrote, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) And, if there is indeed nothing new, than God, with whom there is “no shifting shadow” (James 1:17) can be our one true source of hope. For He was before all. When compared with God, “a thousand ages” are as “an evening gone.”
So when troubles come, the words of Isaac Watts ring true. “O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, be thou our guide while troubles last, and our eternal home! ”