He tabernacled among us too

Jehovah Tsidkenu

This poem/hymn was written by Robert Murray McCheyne, minister of St. Peter’s Church, Dundee until his death in 1843. One of the greatest ministers Scotland has ever produced (which is saying something), McCheyne used one of the great watchwords of the Reformation in this poem. Jehovah Tsidkenu is one of the Names for God in the Hebrew Bible and translates as ‘God [is] our Righteousness’. It helpfully reminds us that we have no righteousness of our own – that we can do nothing to please/attract God. But that, knowing this, God himself gifts and clothes us with his very own righteousness – in Christ – and so we know security, and relationship with God as his children. Awesome.

The poem is a profound and beautiful faith story, testimony of grace in his life. Praise God this Grace is free and offered to all and everyone. We don’t have to be good, or clever, interested. Its the same offer to straights, the poor, lesbians, rich folks, bisexual, black, white, gay, Asian etc. There is nothing that disqualifies us. Its free. If you’ve never tested it before – go on, find out for yourself. If you have, remind yourself it is all of Him and not of you. Remember the freedom and joy that gives us.

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.


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