Lord’s Day 49: Your Will Alone Is Good

Catechism and Psalter

“God’s will” is one of those trite phrases often flippantly thrown around in 21st-century Christian jargon.  However, as the Heidelberg Catechism shows in Lord’s Day 49, seeking God’s will is a deep and crucial aspect of the believer’s walk.  Today we turn to this brief question and answer in our continuing URC Psalmody series.

124 Q.  What does the third request mean?

A.  Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven means,

Help us and all men
to reject our own wills
and to obey your will without any back talk.
Your will alone is good.

Help everyone carry out the work he is called to
as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.

Suggested Songs

253, “O Lord, Thy Perfect Righteousness” (Psalm 119)

“Help us and all men to reject our own wills and to obey your will without any back talk.”  Ever since the Fall, man’s will has led him astray.  If we confess the truth of Lord’s Day 3 that we are naturally “inclined toward all evil” (Question 8), the necessity of this portion of the Lord’s Prayer should be obvious.  For the Christian, rejecting our own will is interwoven with “the dying-away of the old self, and the coming-to-life of the new” which Lord’s Day 33 describes.  In the words of the familiar hymn, “Have Thine own way, Lord!  Have Thine own way!  Thou art the potter, I am the clay.”  Or, in the words of Psalm 119:137-144 in the blue Psalter Hymnal:

O Lord, Thy perfect righteousness
Is in Thy judgments shown;
In Thy unchanging faithfulness
Thy truth Thou hast made known.

Because Thy foes forget Thy law,
My soul is greatly stirred;
Thy servant loves the purity
Of Thy most holy Word.

Though I am humble and despised,
I strive Thy will to do;
Eternal is Thy righteousness,
And all Thy law is true.

247, “Forever Settled in the Heavens” (Psalm 119)

“Your will alone is good.”  This is a simple statement, and yet we cannot plumb its depth.  We serve a God whose ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8,9); “how unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33).  The psalmist expresses it well in another beautiful, yet often overlooked, portion of Psalm 119:

Forever settled in the heavens,
Thy Word, O Lord, shall firmly stand;
Thy faithfulness shall never fail;
The earth abides at Thy command.

Thy Word and works unmoved remain,
Thine every purpose to fulfil;
All things are Thine and Thee obey,
And all as servants wait Thy will.

I should have perished in my woe
Had not I loved Thy law divine;
That law I never can forget;
O save me, Lord, for I am Thine.

The wicked would destroy my soul,
But on Thy truth I muse with awe;
Imperfect have I found all else,
But boundless is Thy wondrous law.

305, “Praise the Lord in Heavenly Places” (Psalm 148)

“Help everyone carry out the work he is called to as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.”  This last part of question and answer 124 relates the request “Thy will be done” to contentment and joyful service.  Is it possible to do God’s will even in the simple, mundane activities of life?  The Catechism would seem to utter a resounding “Yes!” Possessing “wholehearted joy in God through Christ and a delight to do every kind of good as God wants us to” (Lord’s Day 33, Q&A 90), the Christian can glorify his Redeemer in all aspects of his earthly labor.  Psalm 148 draws this same connection between the service of the angels and the service of redeemed sinners—in this case, in worship:

Praise the Lord in heavenly places,
Ye His hosts and angels bright;
Sun and moon, declare His glory,
Praise Him, all ye stars of light.

Kings and princes, bow before Him,
Earthly judges, give Him praise,
All ye people, tell His glory,
Old and young, your voices raise.

Praise His Name with praise unending,
For His Name alone is great;
Over heaven and earth exalted,
Reigns the Lord in kingly state.

He has greatly blessed His people,
Therefore, all ye saints, give praise;
Chosen of the Lord and precious,
Thankful hallelujahs raise.

–MRK

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