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The Hymn: Jehovah Tsidkenu (McCheyne)


I first sang this hymn at a meeting of the Christian Brethren. (A strange happenstance, considering its Calvinistic roots and reformed theology).

The hymn frequently uses the term Jehovah Tsidkenu, one of the Hebrew names for God, GOD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, and is often known just by that title.

In the hymn Robert Murray McCheyne meditates on our own sinfulness, and our necessary condemnation under the law of God. Our righteousness, however we my percieve it, can never match God’s standards – it is ‘like filthy rags.’ But there is one who is fully righteous – and only one, and that one is Christ, who became our substitute at Calvary, took our sin, and imputed unto us His own righteousness. The whole theme of the hymn is how oblivious the sinner is to his own lostness, until awakened by God’s sovereign grace and election to see his imperilled condition, and given faith to trust in Christ alone.

Having so been called, redeemed, purchaesed by Christ’s atoning blood, the sinner is safe in God’s keeping, and assured of a heavenly home. It is a hymn which cannot be read without causing the redeemed believer to thank God for free salvation.

I once was a stranger to grace and to God,
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.

I oft read with pleasure, to sooth or engage,
Isaiah’s wild measure and John’s simple page;
But e’en when they pictured the blood sprinkled tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu seemed nothing to me.

Like tears from the daughters of Zion that roll,
I wept when the waters went over His soul;
Yet thought not that my sins had nailed to the tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu—’twas nothing to me.

When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see—
Jehovah Tsidkenu my Saviour must be.

My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;
My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life giving and free—
Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.

Jehovah Tsidkenu! my treasure and boast,
Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne’er can be lost;
In thee I shall conquer by flood and by field,
My cable, my anchor, my breast-plate and shield!

Even treading the valley, the shadow of death,
This “watchword” shall rally my faltering breath;
For while from life’s fever my God sets me free,
Jehovah Tsidkenu, my death song shall be.

Robert Murray McCheyne

From → Hymns and Praise

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