Great is Thy Faithfulness by Thomas Chisholm, 1923.
Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been thou forever wilt be.
Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
all I have needed thy hand hath provided–
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Observe: Faithfulness is a quality of character where one remains steadfast to a promise, regardless of adversity, opposition, or faithlessness on the part of the other. The opening verse of our song tells us God’s character is unchanging, so his faithfulness is steadfast. In one sense, faithfulness and steadfastness are synonymous, but there is more here than just similar ideas.
The Psalmist writes, Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. (Psalm 85:8a, 10–11, ESV).
We see here that steadfast love and faithfulness are complements to righteousness and peace. They “kiss” as faithfulness springs from the earth, and righteousness descends from the sky. What was once estranged is now joined. The Psalmist sees heaven and earth reaching towards each other in perfect harmony.
Steadfast (chesed) love and faithfulness are the product of righteousness and peace. The result is the full advent of God’s kingdom, where life is fulfilled because fear has fled. All is in balance, and God speaks “shalom” (peace) to his reconciled creation.
How great is his faithfulness? New mercies are given every morning from God’s gracious abundance.
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love. [Refrain].
Verse 2 reprises Isaiah, where God says, “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the Lord have created it.” (Isaiah 45:8).
What a wonderful picture. Righteousness raining down from God, and the earth opening to receive the righteousness that bears spiritual fruit, and “I the Lord have created it.” Great is Thy faithfulness!
Verse 3 tells us God’s faithfulness has an anchor and a result.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! [Refrain]
The anchor is God. There is a pardon for sin because God’s character is faithfulness. The atoning death of Jesus reconciled sinful humanity to the holy God just as he promised, and in his promise, we have “shalom,” a peace that endures. The result is “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” Psalm 85 anticipates the Cross of Christ, where righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Look upon His cross and dying shame,Oh, my soul, it was for thee!Look, He took thy guilt, thy sin, thy blame,As He died on Calvary.That day turned to night and from that fightSprang salvation’s Genesis;And above the Cross in shining lightHis Mercy and Justice kissed.
– David Benning.
May you have God’s shalom, that deep peace within your soul, in these trying times by remembering how Great is (His) Faithfulness.
Blessings, Pastor Don