Lord’s Day 10: Not by Chance

Catechism and Psalter

Oftentimes the process of writing is an exercise in self-teaching.  As I create articles for URC Psalmody, I’ve often experienced this phenomenon.  In this instance, the process of duplicating and evaluating the Lord’s Days of the Heidelberg Catechism over the past several weeks has implanted the words of this wonderful confession deep in my memory, and enhanced my appreciation of the document to an unimaginable extent.  This is especially true in regard to Lord’s Day 10, in which the authors of the Catechism turn their attention to the glorious and all-encompassing doctrine of Providence.

27 Q.  What do you understand by the providence of God?

Providence is
the almighty and ever present power of God
by which he upholds, as with his hand,
heaven
and earth
and all creatures,
and so rules them that
leaf and blade,
rain and drought,
fruitful and lean years,
food and drink,
health and sickness,
prosperity and poverty—
all things, in fact, come to us
not by chance
but from his fatherly hand.

28 Q.  How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?

We can be patient when things go against us,
thankful when things go well,
and for the future we can have
good confidence in our faithful God and Father
that nothing will separate us from his love.
All creatures are so completely in his hand
that without his will
they can neither move nor be moved.

Suggested Songs

The psalms speak of God’s providence in a variety of ways.  Terms like “tender mercies,” “steadfast love,” and “lovingkindness” are just a few of the phrases used to describe the Lord’s continuing care for his creation and, more specifically, his chosen people.  The blue Psalter Hymnal contains a multitude of beautiful and beloved versifications of these passages.

169, “My Song Forever Shall Record” (Psalm 89)

(Sung at Dordt College and by Hope PRC in CA)

“Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God by which he upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures…”  This setting of the first part of Psalm 89 sets forth in beautiful song God’s faithfulness over all creation.  Here are some selected stanzas:

My song forever shall record
The tender mercies of the Lord;
Thy faithfulness will I proclaim,
And every age shall know Thy Name.

I sing of mercies that endure,
Ever builded firm and sure,
Of faithfulness that never dies,
Established changeless in the skies.

O Thou Jehovah, God of hosts,
What mighty one Thy likeness boasts?
In all Thy works and vast designs
Thy faithfulness forever shines.

The swelling sea obeys Thy will,
Its angry waves Thy voice can still;
Thy mighty enemies are slain,
Thy foes resist Thy power in vain.

The heavens and earth, by right divine,
The world and all therein, are Thine;
The whole creation’s wondrous frame
Proclaims its Maker’s glorious Name.

281, “O Praise Ye the Name of Jehovah” (Psalm 135)

(Sung by Grace URC in Dunnville, ON)

“…Leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty…”  To some extent Psalm 135 overlaps with the first part of Psalm 89, but it also focuses more closely on God’s relationship to the Church, especially as it addresses the “servants appointed to stand in the house of our God.”

O praise ye the Lord for His goodness;
‘Tis pleasant His praises to sing;
His people, His chosen and precious,
Your praises with gratitude bring.

I know that the Lord is almighty,
Supreme in dominion is He,
Performing His will and good pleasure
In heaven and in earth and the sea.

Thy name shall abide, O Jehovah,
Through all generations renowned;
The Lord is the Judge of His people,
His mercies forever abound.

23, “To Thee, O Lord, I Fly” (Psalm 16)

(Sung to LEOMINSTER on YouTube)

“…All things, in fact, come to us not by chance but from his fatherly hand.”  In Psalm 16 David extols the Lord for upholding him throughout his life and granting him “a beautiful inheritance.”  Confident in God’s providence, he declares, “Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (v. 8 ESV).

When we considered Lord’s Day 1, I pointed you to Psalter Hymnal number 22, “When in the Night I Meditate.”  Although that’s my personal favorite when it comes to settings of Psalm 16, number 23 just across the page is an excellent choice as well.  In the 1912 Psalter these words are set to the tune LEOMINSTER (Psalter Hymnal #389), which seems to suit this text better than MARY.

The lot to me that fell
Is beautiful and fair;
The heritage in which I dwell
Is good beyond compare.
I praise the Lord above
Whose counsel guides aright;
My heart instructs me in His love
In seasons of the night.

I keep before me still
The Lord whom I have proved;
At my right hand He guards from ill,
And I shall not be moved.
Life’s pathway Thou wilt show,
To Thy right hand wilt guide,
Where streams of pleasure flow,
And boundless joys abide.

52, “O Lord, by Thee Delivered” (Psalm 30)

“We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well…”  Psalm 30 tells the story of a self-confident individual who, through affliction, is taught to place his trust instead in the Lord.  How often do we need similar lessons in our own Christian lives!  Only those who accept the reality of God’s providence will truly remain unmoved.

In prosperous days I boasted,
Unmoved I shall remain;
For, Lord, by Thy good favor
My cause Thou didst maintain;
I soon was sorely troubled,
For Thou didst hide Thy face;
I cried to Thee, Jehovah,
I sought Jehovah’s grace.

My grief is turned to gladness,
To Thee my thanks I raise,
Who hast removed my sorrow
And girded me with praise;
And now, no longer silent,
My heart Thy praise will sing;
O Lord my God, forever
My thanks to Thee I bring.

290, “O Lord, My Inmost Heart and Thought” (Psalm 139)

(Sung on YouTube)

“…and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from his love.”  David, the author of Psalm 139, intimately understood the doctrine of providence.  More importantly, he was able to apply this truth to his own life, ultimately praying God to search him and know his heart.

If I the wings of morning take
To some remotest land,
Still I shall be upheld by Thee
And guided by Thy hand.

Search me, O God, and know my heart,
Try me, my thoughts to know;
O lead me, if in sin I stray,
In paths of life to go.

140, “O God, How Good Thou Art” (Psalm 73)

(Sung by Grace URC in Dunnville, ON)

“All creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved.”  To summarize the thrust of Lord’s Day 10, we need only turn to Psalm 73.  In the last section of this magnificent poem, versified in this Psalter Hymnal setting, we find a deep understanding and heartfelt application of the providence of God.

O God, how good Thou art
To all the pure of heart,
Though life seems vain;
Burdened with anxious care,
I groped in dark despair,
Till in Thy house of prayer
All was made plain.

Ever, O Lord, with Thee,
All shall be well with me,
Held by Thy hand;
And Thou wilt guide my feet
By Thine own counsel sweet,
Till I, for glory meet,
In glory stand.

In earth or heaven above
Who is there that I love
Compared with Thee?
My heart may faint with fears,
But God my strength appears,
And will to endless years
My portion be.

O it is good that I
May still to God draw nigh
As oft before;
The Lord Jehovah blest,
My refuge and my rest,
Shall be in praise confessed
Forevermore.

–MRK

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4 Responses to “Lord’s Day 10: Not by Chance”


  1. 1 Nancy A. Almodovar March 6, 2013 at 7:05 am

    you are singing my song of providence my friend. 🙂

  2. 2 Nancy A. Almodovar March 6, 2013 at 7:09 am

    found a beautiful rendition of Psalm 30 here (in Dutch of course)


  1. 1 Lord’s Day 11: He Saves Us from Our Sins | URC Psalmody Trackback on March 13, 2013 at 7:02 am

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