Matthew Fitzsimmons

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

While singing “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” in church yesterday morning, I was struck by the first stanza:

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more;
Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more.

This first stanza is theologically rich, and very convicting to me. It expresses a complete dependence on God that I think is extremely rare in our materialistic society. What struck me most is that I don't usually think of this world as a “barren land,” that is completely worthless and hopeless apart from Christ. In reality, there is no path in this life on earth that has a good outcome apart from Christ, and the only way we can be properly guided through life is by the hand of God.

Immediately after, the author expresses his weakness in relation to God's might. This is another doctrine that I am too much like our culture in regards to. Our culture looks at religion in a way that either says it is bogus and only for the weak, or that it is just something you do that can be completely separated from the way you actually live your life. In other words, they are completely dependent on what they can do, and not on God. In reality, the truth expressed here is that we are unable to get by without God, nor should we want to or try.

The refrain of this stanza emphasizes the fact that there is nothing on earth that can truly satisfy. Once again, our culture is completely caught up with materialism I want this, I need that, I'll gorge myself on this or that pleasure yet we are to be wholly different from this attitude. I am reminded again of Jeremiah 2. The entire chapter is always convicting to me, because I see in it too much of myself. What strikes me the most is verses 12-13:

12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the LORD,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Far from seeing our need of being satisfied with the bread of heaven and the fountain of living waters, we too often gorge ourselves with the stale crusts, and lap at the dust in our broken cisterns. We must, instead, be wholly given over to God. We must find ourselves completely satisfied in him, forsaking the broken cisterns of this barren land for the ultimate in satisfaction.

All Scripture passages taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.