Now all this while poor Mercy did stand without, trembling and crying for fear that she was rejected. But when Christiana had gotten admittance for herself and her boys, then she began to make intercession for Mercy.
Christiana: And she said, “My Lord, I have a companion of mine that stands yet without, that is come hither upon the same account as myself: one that is much dejected in her mind; for that she comes, as she thinks, without sending for, whereas I was sent to by my husband’s King to come.”
Now Mercy began to be very impatient, for each minute was as long to her as an hour; wherefore she prevented Christiana from a fuller interceding for her, by knocking at the gate herself: and she knocked then so loud, that she made Christiana to start. Then said the keeper of the gate, “Who is there?” And said Christiana, “It is my friend.”
So he opened the gate, and looked out; but Mercy was fallen down without in a swoon, for she fainted, and was afraid that no gate would be opened to her.
Then he took her by the hand, and said, “Damsel, I bid you arise.”
“Oh, sir,” said she, “I am faint; there is scarce life left in me.” But he answered that “one once said, ‘When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came in unto You, into Your holy temple.’
Fear not, but stand upon your feet, and tell Me why you have come.”
Mercy: I am come for that unto which I was never invited, as my friend Christiana was. Hers was from the King, and mine was but from her; wherefore I fear I presume.
Keeper of the Gate: “Did she desire you to come with her to this place?”
Mercy: Yes; and, as my Lord sees, I am come. And if there is any grace or forgiveness of sins to spare, I beseech that I, your poor handmaid, may be partaker thereof.
Then he took her again by the hand, and led her gently in, and said, “I pray for all them that believe on Me, by what means soever they come unto Me.” Then said he to those that stood by, “Fetch something, and give it to Mercy to smell on, thereby to stay her fainting.” So they fetched her a bundle of myrrh, and awhile after she was revived.
Notes and Commentary
While sounds of music celebrate the arrival of Christiana and her children, Mercy is still outside the Gate. She has been fearful from the beginning that she would not be received. Now it seems her fears are coming true.
But pray, sir, while it is fresh in my mind, do you hear anything of his wife and children? Poor hearts! I wonder in my mind what they do.
Sagacity: Who? Christiana and her sons! They are like to do as well as did Christian himself; for though they all played the fool at the first, and would by no means be persuaded by either the tears or entreaties of Christian, yet second thoughts have wrought wonderfully with them; so they have packed up, and are also gone after him.
“Better and better,” said I. “But what! Wife and children and all?”
Sagacity: ‘Tis true. I can give you an account of the matter; for I was upon the spot at the instant, and was thoroughly acquainted with the whole affair.
“Then,” said I, “a man, it seems, may report it for a truth?”
Sagacity: You need not fear to affirm it. I mean, that they are all gone on pilgrimage, both the good woman and her four boys; and being we are, as I perceive, going some considerable way together, I will give you an account of the whole of the matter.
Notes and Commentary
The conversation between Bunyan and Mr. Sagacity now turns to Christian’s family. Perhaps the most perplexing question left unanswered in Part 1 of The Pilgrim’s Progress is: What became of Christian’s wife and children who remained behind in the City of Destruction?
Excerpt from: “Reforming Church Music” A Paper presented at the 2001 Founders Conference
God has purpose and intent in including music as an element of worship. The Bible has much to say about music and its role in worship. The following list summarizes seven roles that will help us define the purpose of music in worship.
1. Music is a primary means of praising God. The majority of references to music in the Bible, including verses that teach about music, as well as Psalms and other passages that are the texts to songs, are in the context of praising God. Through music we exalt, glorify, honor, bless, and adore God. We marvel at the perfection of His character, attributes, gifts, names, and works, ascribing to Him in song all that He is! The Psalter itself culminates in praise:
Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament! Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! (Psalm 150:1–2)
Music exists first and foremost to the glory and praise of God and Scripture convincingly bears this out.
2. Music is a primary means of giving thanks to God. Thanksgiving is a grateful acknowledgment or public confession of the goodness of God manifest in what He has done for His people. It is a grateful response to God for His deliverance, healing, forgiveness, salvation, and other blessings that He brings to us. Music accompanies thanksgiving in worship:
Hallelujah! I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart In the company of the upright and in the convocation. (Psalm 111:1)
Thanksgiving is also sung in the context of evangelism:
I will give thanks to You among the peoples, O Lord; I will sing praises to You among the nations. (Psalm 57:9)
As with praise, references in Scripture to giving thanks most often occur in song.
3. Music serves as a means of prayer. Many of the songs and psalms of Scripture are addressed directly to God. David, for example, in Psalms 4 and 5 pours out his heart to God, brings petitions and asks for help and mercy. Throughout the Psalter, psalmists lament over sorrows, anguish over difficulties, confess their sinfulness, rejoice over God’s kindness, celebrate His goodness, and express numerous other emotions as they pour out their hearts before Him. Music can serve as invocation, petition, supplication, intercession, repentance, lamentation, and other forms of prayer, lifting our concerns before God.
4. Music serves as a means to proclaim truth. As we sing praise, thanksgiving, and prayer we voice our words to God, but music can also bring God’s Word to us. We can sing the words of Scripture, Psalms and other passages set to music. We can also teach and admonish one another in song with the truths of Scripture. Psalm 1, for example, is a didactic song that teaches us the difference between the blessed and the ungodly. Music helps us to remember and meditate on the truths of Scripture. It serves alongside preaching as a means of proclamation, edifying the church and evangelizing the lost, as it provides an emotional context in which we can interpret, understand, and express the truths of God’s Word.
5. Music serves as a means of exhortation. Music lifts our words to God in prayer and brings God’s Word to us in proclamation, but it can also voice our words to one another. Psalm 95, for example, is a call to worship. We exhort one another with the words:
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. (Psalm 95:1–2)
Through music God’s people speak to one another, stirring up one another to good works. Music can call us to worship, exhort us to love and serve one another, encourage us to live in obedience to God’s Word, admonish us to flee from sin and pursue holiness, and enjoin us to go out and witness and share the gospel.
6. Music serves as a means to confess our faith. With music God’s people can express common beliefs and doctrines as one voice. In the Old Testament Israel rehearsed their faith and history through music. Psalm 118, for example, is a public confession of the goodness and enduring mercy of God. The New Testament contains several confessional statements such as 2 Timothy 2:11 that many scholars believe are fragments of early hymns. Music provides an effective way to unite in declaring our confessions of faith.
Perhaps the most notable example of this in church history is the “Doxology,” written by Thomas Ken in 1709, a musical affirmation of the doctrine of the Trinity:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
7. Finally, music serves as a means of enriching worship with beauty. According to Scripture, singing praise to God is pleasant and beautiful. Psalm 147:1 reads:
Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.
It is good when we unite our voices together in singing to God. Music provides a beautiful garb in which we dress our words and actions in worship. It is a pleasant means of joining together to express our love and devotion to God in worship.These are seven roles or functions of music that God affirms in His Word. God has commanded us to make music and included it in His design for worship. It is not the purpose of music to amuse, manipulate, or entertain us in worship. God has given us music that we might beautifully lift our praise, thanksgiving, and prayers to Him; that we might proclaim the truth of His Word, confess our faith, and exhort one another to good works as we gather in corporate worship.
To have Christ is to have all we need! To rest in Him is more valuable and more satisfying that anything this life can offer. But too often the trials and troubles of this world overwhelm us and keep us from fully laying hold of the riches we possess in Christ.
John Ryland, an English Baptist pastor and hymn writer, understood this struggle of faith. In 1777 (the same year he wrote “Sovereign Ruler of the Skies”), he composed the hymn “O Lord, I Would Delight in Thee.” The hymn is a prayer expressing his desire for a “stronger faith” anchored in God’s sure Word. In it he exposes his own (and our) folly. We focus too intently on the parched world around us, whose “streams are dried,” bemoaning our thirst, when all the while Christ is near— “a fountain which will ever run with waters sweet and clear.” Ryland reminds himself of God’s goodness. “While Christ is rich,” we “can’t be poor”! Even if all the joys and blessings of this world fade away, Christ’s “fulness is the same.”
The hymn was written December 3, 1777 and published in Rippon’s Selection (1798). The lyrics were heartfelt and especially meaningful to the hymn writer. According to John Julian in the Dictionary of Hymnology, Ryland attached a note to the manuscript that read: “I recollect deeper feelings of mind in composing this hymn, than perhaps I ever felt in making any other.”
May God stir in us such heavenly desires! In these uncertain times, may we cast all our cares upon the Lord, and may our “great concern” be to love and praise Him more!
O Lord, I Would Delight in Thee
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
O Lord, I would delight in Thee, And on Thy care depend; To Thee in ev’ry trouble flee, My best, my only Friend.
When all created streams are dried, Thy fulness is the same; May I with this be satisfied, And glory in Thy Name.
Why should the soul a drop bemoan, Who has a fountain near— A fountain which will ever run With waters sweet and clear?
No good in creatures can be found, But may be found in Thee; I must have all things and abound, While God is God to me.
O that I had a stronger faith, To look within the veil; To credit what my Savior saith, Whose words can never fail.
He that has made my heav’n secure Will here all good provide; While Christ is rich, I can’t be poor; What can I want beside?
O Lord, I cast my care on Thee; I triumph and adore; Henceforth my great concern shall be To love and praise Thee more.
“Lord, work in us that fear of You which is the beginning of wisdom. Let us be instructed by this wisdom, which is the fountain of life even as it teaches us to depart from the snares of death. Give us an undivided heart that we may fear Your name and keep Your commandments, which is the whole duty of man. Put Your fear in our hearts, that we may never depart from You. Let us be zealous for Your fear. Let us live in the fear of the Lord every day, and all day long.”
— from Matthew Henry’s A Way to Pray
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death. (Proverbs 14:27)
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13–14)
And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. (Jeremiah 32:40)
Over the past many years, I have compiled a Prayer Book. It includes people I remember in prayer (family, church members, students and colleagues at the college where I teach), lyrics to songs (songs I have written, songs I find meaningful), Scripture passage (for meditation and memorization), as well as other notes and quotes.
One of the pages I visit often is an encouragement to learn patience and rest in Christ. On the page is a list of truths to remember (and preach to myself!) when facing difficult and uncertain times. I wrote down the list many years ago while taking notes in a Sunday School class. I don’t remember the date, but the class was taught by Steve Garrick when my family and I were at Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas.
The notes have been valuable in pointing me many times back to God’s Word. In the uncertain times we face today, I hope you find them valuable as well.
Rest in Christ
Help me, Lord, to grow in patience and longsuffering, to learn more and more to rest in Christ.
Help me to remember:
God is absolutely sovereign. I must trust Him fully and not lean on my own understanding.
God is always good—always. I must look to the cross and remember: He loves me and will do everything needed to complete the good work begun in me.
God gave me my life for His glory, not the pursuit of my own pleasure. I must walk in contentment, submissive to His will.
God never reveals my future or explains His decrees. I must walk by faith and not by sight.
God hold me responsible for all my thoughts, actions, and reactions. I must walk in humble obedience to His Word.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22–23).
O Spirit, now we thank You For giving us Your Word. Please bless its proclamation, The truths that we have heard. Indwell us and empow’r us, And cause us to obey; Shine now the light of Scripture On all we do and say.
Great Artist of the Scriptures, In beauty You have made God’s Word to shine in glory That cannot fail or fade. In poetry and proverbs, Through narrative and line; In prophecy and hist’ry, God’s truth in splendor shines.
You, down through many ages Inspired men to write, Progressively revealing, You brought God’s truth to light. O Spirit, come illumine This truth for us today; And guide us in sound doctrine, The straight and narrow way.
Wield now Your Sword, O Spirit, The quick and living Word, And rend our hearts asunder With truths that we have heard. O search us now and know us, Expose iniquity; Conform us to our Savior, And holy we shall be.
This hymn is a prayer addressed to the Holy Spirit, who inspired and crafted the Word of God. It is written to serve as a closing hymn following the preaching of the Word. In the hymn we respond to the preaching by asking the Spirit to “bless its proclamation” and apply it in an effective way to our lives. The final verse is based on Hebrew 4:12. Scripture is the sword of the Spirit, who skillfully and lovingly lays bare our hearts with truth.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
The idea for the hymn came in October 1995 during a Sunday School class taught by Steve Garrick at Heritage Baptist Church. Steve was teaching a series of lessons on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. During the lesson on October 22nd, he compared the Spirit’s work in bringing us God’s Word to that of an artist. When God revealed His Word to us, he did not package it as a “systematic theology.” He chose and inspired men to write from their own experiences in poetry, proverb, narrative, history, and prophesy. The Bible is a great work of art crafted by the Spirit “through many ages” as God-breathed revelation. I thought during the class that the comparison would work well for lyrics to a hymn. I finally wrote the hymn several months later. I finished the lyrics on July 8, 1996 while driving to Dallas Baptist University, where I was teaching Classical Guitar during the summer semester. The hymn tune is named for Pastor Steve Garrick.
We have every reason to pray. We are fragile and have great needs. God is great and does wondrous things (Psalm 40:10). We are burdened and weighed down by sin. God is “is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy” (Psalm 103:8). We are troubled and oppressed. God alone can save; salvation belongs to Him (Psalm 3:8).
Hope and help are always close at hand, yet too often we fail to pray. The very reasons that should compel us to seek God in prayer become the cause of our discouragement. We feel weighed down by our needs and undone by our sin. We feel weak and ashamed. We wrongly conclude that God will reject us when we come to Him. We think that He will turn us away, and so we do not pray.
Daniel Herbert’s hymn, “Come Boldly to the Throne of Grace,” is a welcoming encouragement to pray. Though we are “wretched sinners,” we can lay our load at Jesus’ feet. Though we are “lost and blind and lame” in our sin, the Lord will befriend us. Though we are “bankrupt” and feel the terrible weight of sin’s condemnation, we are assured of the promise: “The Lord will take you in.” Because of Christ we can “come boldly to the throne of grace” and “obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Come Boldly to the Throne of Grace
Come boldly to the throne of grace, Ye wretched sinners come; And lay your load at Jesus’ feet, And plead what He has done. “How can I come?” some soul my say, “I’m lame and cannot walk; My guilt and sin have stopped my mouth; I sigh but dare not talk.”
Come boldly to the throne of grace, Though lost and blind and lame; Jehovah is the sinner’s Friend And ever was the same. He makes the dead to hear His voice, He makes the blind to see. The sinner lost He came to save, And set the pris’ner free.
Come boldly to the throne of grace, For Jesus fills the throne; And those He kills He makes alive, He hears the sigh or groan. Poor bankrupt souls; who feel and know The hell of sin within, Come boldly to the throne of grace, The Lord will take you in.
Tom Wells (Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas) composed the tune for this hymn. Download free sheet music (PDF), including a guitar chord charts and an arrangement of the hymn tune HERBERT for classical guitar.
When we hear or read God’s Word, we should always pray for understanding and wisdom. And when we have opportunity to gather with the church and sit under the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, we should pray for the pastor. Apart from God’s grace, all our efforts to worship and serve Him will be in vain.
Lord We Come to Hear Your Word
A Prayer for God’s Grace in Worship
Lord, we come to hear Your Word.
Shine Your light! Unsheathe Your sword!
Send Your Spirit forth in pow’r.
Come and bless Your church this hour.
We confess, our thoughts have strayed;
Minds distracted and dismayed.
On the Son fix now each thought;
Help us worship as we ought.
Lord, as we prepare to hear,
Wake each soul, unstop each ear.
Conquer every stubborn heart;
Mercy, saving grace impart.
We confess, without Your grace,
Vain our efforts in this place.
Send illumination’s light;
Open eyes and give us sight.
Lord, we lift up to Your care
Him who stands now to declare
Truth that teaches, warns, consoles;
Bless this feast to feed our souls.
For Your Word, O Lord, we yearn;
Empty, let it not return.
Come, accomplish all Your will —
Draw, convict, give life and fill.
For Your Word, O Lord, we yearn;
Empty, let it not return.
Come, accomplish all Your will —
Draw, convict, give life and fill.
Draw, convict, give life and fill.