Disclaimer: Many of the songs we sing were written a long time ago. This has made it increasingly harder to ascertain the motive and meaning behind some of our song’s lyrics. Where the intentions and meanings are available I will share them, and note it appropriately. However, for the most part, the conclusions drawn from these lyrics will be my own. Regardless, in all things, The Word of God will be the sole standard by which all of these songs will be judged (Cf. 1 Corinthians 14:15, Colossians 3:17).
It is my pleasure to write about a hymn that is considered a favorite among many, Oh, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. This song was written by Robert Robinson in 1757. Mr. Robinson entered the ministry of preaching after living a very sordid lifestyle as a young man. Three years into his ministry he penned this song which many of us have come to love. Sadly, as an older man, Mr. Robinson left his faith for the pleasures of sin. The New Testament Christian is keenly aware that Mr. Robinson was wrong in his method of conversion and theology. However, the words of his hymn paint a picture with which we are all too familiar. Saved from the dreaded clutches of sin and the death that it brings (Romans 6:23) is something with which we can readily identify. I do not profess to know Mr. Robinson’s true motives in writing these lyrics but with this article, I hope to bring to our minds some definite Biblical truths.
In this beautiful hymn, the writer talks about God and himself. He mentions God as The Proprietor of Blessings, Oh thou fount of Every Blessing. James wrote that “every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father” (James 1:17). If one were to make two lists, one containing every blessing from God and the other containing every blessing we manufactured ourselves the endeavor would be astounding and revealing. The list enumerating the blessings we received by our own means would be empty and the list tallying the blessings from God would fill every square inch of this world. Not only is God the source or fount of blessings, He is the only one providing it. In this hymn, Mr. Robinson says that the knowledge of God as the source of all blessings calls for songs of loudest praise. If we believe that God is the source of all our blessings should it not prompt us to sing songs of loudest praise? The Psalmist penned the same reaction towards God’s goodness:
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is the great God, And the great King above all gods, Psalms 95:1-3.
Not only is God the source of all blessings he is also, The Purveyor of Strength. In the second stanza, Mr. Robinson used the word “Ebenezer” to convey the source of his strength. This word is the name of a Palestinian city, it is also translated as stone of help After defeating the Philistines the prophet Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12). The songwriter credits God for where he was in life, hither by thy help I’ve come. The Christian must be able to recognize the same concept. We are Christians, Saints for the service of God because of God. We did not save ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-9) nor did we secure a mansion in heaven by our own strength (John 14:1-3). When we enter eternity, we have nothing of which to boast, for what we have has been granted to us by the glorious mercy of God. As the song points out, we will arrive safely at home by His good pleasure.
In view of God’s Blessings and strength, the writer proclaims that he is A Perpetual Debtor. O to Grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be. He says I am constrained to be meaning, he is obligated into a life of debt toward God because of His blessings. The words of this stanza ought to be printed in the chambers of our hearts. Whether we realize it or not we are inherent debtors. It does not matter who you are, inside of Christ or outside of Christ, we owe God something. When the Hebrew people submitted themselves to Idols the Lord called their indebtedness to their attention.
And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation, Judges 10:11-14.
The Lord expects, yea demands our obedience because of what He has done for us. So likewise, you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do,’ “ Luke 17:10.
Mr. Robinson concludes his hymn with a picture of Perfect Submission. In the last stanza Mr. Robinson says:
Let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee. Never let me wander from thee never leave the God I love. Here’s My heart O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.
The musicologists intimate that this last stanza portrays Mr. Robinson’s constant struggle with the pleasures of sin. His heart was constantly wandering from where it needed to be. Whether this is true I do not know, it certainly has merits considering he apostatized from his faith. In my estimation, there are three things that can be drawn out from this last verse. First, there is a Plea for Prevention. Let thy good like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee. Please do not allow me to wander from you Lord, allow your goodness to chain my heart to you. The verse intimates that a recognition of God’s goodness can prevent one from falling away. This is certainly in line with what we read in the Bible. In his letter to the Romans, Paul said the following. Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance, Romans 2:4? If the goodness of God can lead the sinner to repentance, then certainly it is able to preserve the saint in righteousness. God’s goodness ought to be a constant barrier between us and the World. If the saint will but enumerate the multitude of blessings that will be lost when he/she leaves God, it should bind our wandering hearts to Him. Second, there is a Prayer for Preservation. Never let me wander from thee never Leave the God I love. It is possible to fall away from the Lord. However, the Christian is not without aid to keep himself in the Lord. A Prayer that we seldom hear or pray is the one where we are asking God to keep us faithful. Yet, it is one that is found in the pages of Holy Writ.
How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. Psalms 119:9-11
We must keep ourselves in the Lord (2 Peter 1:2-11) but we receive help from the Lord to that end (Jude 1:24). Our prayers and songs of praise ought to contain heartfelt supplications for spiritual preservation. Third, there is a Perfect Presentation. Here’s My Heart O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above. His whole heart is presented to The Lord, non-is left for self. This type of submission is paramount in becoming and being a disciple of the Lord (Matthew 22:36-38). To be a servant of the Lord one must give up ownership of self. When I ponder this last verse, it conjures up emotions of belonging, worth, and freedom. I know to whom I belong, I know the Lord cares for me as His servant and in Him, I have a freedom and peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). Indeed, Never let me wander from thee, Never Leave the God I love. What a great privilege it is to sing praises to God, I hope this article in some way affords you the ability to sing this song with better understanding. To God be the Glory!
The Following Sources Were Used in The Compilation Of This Article.
New King James Version of the Bible. Computer Software: E-Sword, Version 11.0.6. 2016.
Graves, Dan. “Did Robert Robinson Wonder as He feared.” Christianity.Com. Web. 10 Oct 2017. http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1701-1800/did-robert-robinson-wander-as-he-feared-11630313.html
Robert, Morgan. “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Then Sings My Soul. Keepsake Edition. Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group, 2011. p.108. Print.
Robert “Robert Robinson.” Wikipedia.com. Web. 10 Oct 2107. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Robert_Robinson_(Baptist)&oldid=78780571
” The Story Behind the Hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Stefanie’s This and That. Web. 10 Oct 2017. http://stefaniesthisandthat.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-story-behind-hymn-come-thou-fount.html
Spiros, Zodhiates. E.Sword. Computer software. Complete Word Study Dictionary of the Old Testaments and New Testament. Version. 11.0.6.