Leaning On The Everlasting Arms

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,

leaning on the everlasting arms;

what a blessedness, what a peace is mine,

leaning on the everlasting arms.



Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;

leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.


O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,

leaning on the everlasting arms;

O how bright the path grows from day to day,

leaning on the everlasting arms.


What have I to dread, what have I to fear,

leaning on the everlasting arms? 

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,

leaning on the everlasting arms.

The hymn, on my mind today was written by Elisha Hoffman in the late 1800′s. It is based upon the Scripture found in Deuteronomy 33:27 which reads “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”  Isn’t it a great thought to think that God is supporting us, that God is undergirding us, and that His arms are strong enough to hold us during difficult times?  That truth should provide a refuge for us.  In times when relationships disappoint us or finances fail us, it is encouraging to know that there is one who is Everlasting and whose arms are there for us to lean on.

Elisha Hoffman wrote several well-known hymns which I have done in the “Hymn of the week” emails.  They include “Are you washed in the blood?”  “I must tell Jesus” and “Down at the Cross.”  What I particularly like about his songs are that they are fairly simple.  They are easy to understand, but are full of solid spiritual truth.  The hymn this week is no different.  There are no “$5 words” in this hymn.  Just simple reminders of what we get when we lean on His Everlasting arms.

  •  What…!!! – If you notice, there are two different kinds of “What” statements in this hymn.  The first are statements of exclamation about the great things that God gives us as His children (especially as we lean on Him).  We get fellowship, joy, blessedness and peace.  Fellowship comes as we become members of His family.  In 1 Peter 1:8, we are reminded we have an “unspeakable joy” that He gives His followers.   Jesus gave us specific instructions on how to live a blessed life in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5.  Jesus told us in John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  There are so many “what’s” that we get as His followers and as God’s children.
  • What…??? – The second set of “what’s” revolve around questions.  What have I to dread? What have I to fear?  I know I have heard preachers before tell me how many times the Bible records the phrase “Do not fear” or “Fear not.”  I don’t know exactly how many, but I know they are numerous.  God knows that our hearts tend to run to fear during difficult times.  Our human reaction is to be afraid.  That is probably why God commanded us so many times “Do not fear.”  In this hymn, we are reminded by these questions that we don’t have anything to fear.  We don’t have anything to dread.  We serve a God who is in control.  He is everywhere.  He knows everything.  He is all-powerful.  And if He knows the meaningless facts like the number of hairs on our head, surely He knows our needs and our concerns, and can meet us right where we are.

Have you ever broken your leg, twisted your knee, or sprained your ankle?  If so, you probably are familiar with using crutches.  When someone says the word “crutch” most of us immediately have negative connotations that come to mind.  Crutches are one of those unusual things.  They are beneficial, but we don’t like them.  They help us, but we don’t want to use them.  Their purpose is good, but if we had our preference, we would prefer not to have them.  We like to be independent, don’t we?  Crutches are an outward sign to others that we have an injury, a problem, or a weakness.  Most of us (unless we just crave attention) would prefer not to have everybody know that we need crutches.  We would rather not “lean” on a crutch if we don’t have to.

The Apostle Paul tells us about a weakness he had in 2 Corinthians 12.  He referred to it as a thorn in the flesh.  (I won’t speculate on what it was because I think there are more important things to learn from his words than trying to figure out that 2,000 year old mystery).  Paul prayed that this weakness would be taken away.  He prayed 3 different times, and God chose not to remove the “thorn.”  He then tells us about an important spiritual truth.  The truth that God uses our weaknesses, our flaws, and our personal challenges, and does something extraordinary.  He takes His strength and our weaknesses, and He does something awesome with that combination.  He allows us, in weakness, to share in His glory and power.  Paul then makes the following statement “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  What an amazing statement!  Delight in weaknesses? insults? hardships? persecutions? and difficulties?  To be honest, I struggle with having that kind of mindset, even though I know it is truth.

So my question for you is, do you boast about your weaknesses?  Do you let others see that you need “crutches” – an outward sign that there are weaknesses in your life?  Do you let others know that you are leaning on God’s everlasting arms for support and strength?  Are you delighting in the things that might display more of Christ’s glory?   Those are some tough questions.  But I encourage you today, especially if you are going through a tough time, to look for that opportunity to share Christ during your tough time.  God may be looking to bring glory to His Son through your weaknesses.

Finally, there’s another old chorus that goes “Learning to lean, I’m learning to lean.  I’m learning to lean on Jesus.  Finding more power than I ever dreamed.  I’m learning to lean on Jesus.”   I think we all could spend more time “learning to lean” on His everlasting arms.  Wouldn’t you agree?

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