A Shelter In The Time of Storm


Words: Vernon John Charlesworth; 1838 – 1915. With Alterations by Ira Sankey

shelterThe Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

Chorus
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A weary land, a weary land;
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

A shade by day, defense by night,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
No fears alarm, no foes afright,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

The raging storms may round us beat,
A Shelter in the time of storm
We’ll never leave our safe retreat,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

O Rock divine, O Refuge dear,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Be Thou our Helper ever near,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

The writer of this hymn  happens to be the headmaster of the Spurgeon Stockwell orphanage. This was a large set of homes that became their own district in England! The goal was at first to provide a Christian school for children, but when Spurgeon got a large endowment to start an orphanage, it was used to build a row of houses for boys.

Vernon Charlesworth was a Baptist minister and school headmaster at his church, so he was soon recruited to head up the project. The orphanage took off like wildfire. Soon there was a row of houses for girl orphans across the street from the boys homes.

The unique purpose of the homes was to give orphans a family like setting and to provide for children of all faiths and backgrounds, offering them free housing, food, education and care. They tried to dress the children differently, but this proved more difficult than it was seemed.

What made this orphanage unique was that orphans were normally sent to “poor houses.” These were very inadequate warehouses where the children were employed in hard labor to fund their room and board. But food was scarce in such places, and the “bosses” were very abusive and cruel.

Spurgeon’s homes were designed to provide the children a good education, healthy food, and parental love and discipline. They also did not limit the kinds of children they would take in to help. They tried to accept all that applied.

At any rate, the hymn came from this busy Baptist minister and head master, and it quickly became popular particularly among the fishermen who had to face frequent and cruel storms off the northern shores of England.

Ira Sankey found the poem, but did not like the difficult to sing tune that was being used. So he wrote some easy rhythmic music to go with the words and modified the words a bit and added a chorus.

That hymn spread quickly world-wide and is a favorite for young and old and those who never face the rough seas, but do face the storms of daily living.

Couple of comments on the lyrics:

Secure whatever ill betide – This particular phrase is one of those phrases where I say to myself “People don’t talk like this anymore.”  This language, although atypical from our normal language today, communicates a deep truth.  We are secure in Him.  Listen to what Jesus said about His sheep in John 10 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”  This Bible verse and this hymn lyric remind me that we are secure in Him no matter what trouble comes, no matter what devastation occurs, and no matter what ill betides.  He is our refuge, our shield, our protector, our defender, and our Rock.

A shade by day, defense by night – This phrase made me think of a cave as a place of protection.  A cave is a place of refuge that one can go during the heat of the day.  I can imagine wandering in the Judean wilderness during a hot, scorching day desiring to find a place of retreat and coolness from the heat.  I also think about a cave at night as a place of protection from harm.  I place where you go with your family and you hedge yourself in.  The Lord truly is a shelter that provides rest and comfort from the heat of the day, and He is our protection during the dark trials of this life.

God is our refuge. God is our refuge when we are put in a defensive position. In our christian walk, many times we are discouraged, we stumble in our walk and attacked from all sides. That’s when we become defensive and in need for some refuge. Job was on the defensive when he faced the trials. David was on the defensive when haunted by Saul. Yet they found refuge in God. In today’s world, refugees are shunned by many countries. They are seen as an encroachment, a parasite or even as stateless. But God welcomes refugees, no matter who or what they are. Jesus said in John 6:37 – “whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” In the Old Testament, six cities were assigned by Moses to serve as havens for accidental homicide (Num 35:13; Deut 19:9). But in the New Testament, Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mat 11:28).

God is our strength. God is our strength when we are in the offensive. As Christians we have been armed to be on the offensive. Eph 6 gives us the battle order for the offensive onslaught against the devil.Eph 6:12-13 – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. When David was on the offensive against Goliath, he said, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. (1 Sam17:45). When we are on the offensive, it is God who is our strength. Jesus said, surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mat 28:20).

God is our ever present help. Sometimes we are neither in the defensive or in the offensive mode of action. Things just happen, sometimes due to our weakness or even carelessness. Sometimes its due to the bad decisions that we made. Even in such situations, God is our help. Peter’s sinking into the water is one such example. “Lord save me” and that was enough for Jesus to stretch out his hand and save Peter.

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3 Responses to A Shelter In The Time of Storm

  1. very useful blog Thank you!

    Like

  2. austinbhebe says:

    It is a great pleasure to read of your encouraging comments which have been very helpful in improving the content of this blog.
    Psalm 61:3 is an encouraging scripture. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.

    Like

  3. austinbhebe says:

    Thank you very much for your compliments. I pray that many more will find this helpful in their own lives. God bless you.

    Like

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