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H101 - Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

"Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" is one of the most well known hymns in all of Christendom. A gentleman by the name of Robert Robinson wrote this hymn at the ripe age of 23. The hymn itself has a recognizable melody accompanied by words that should strike to the core of all Christians. Lines such as, "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love" cut deep to the soul that knows the struggles of battling the flesh every day. These words verbalize that feeling all Christians have at times. We know that without the saving grace of our wonderful God, we would sprint as fast as we could in whatever direction was away from God. Let's have a look at the lyrics below:

Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the mount I'm fixed upon it mount of God's redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer; hither by thy help I've come; and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home. Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God; he, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee: prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here's my heart, O take and seal it; seal it for thy courts above.

This is hymn #190 in your Broadman Hymnal which everyone should have one their shelf.. Kidding.

Verse 1

The title of the song is also the first line of the first verse. As we sing this line we call upon the living God, the fountain of living waters, to fill us with praise for His glory. The imagery here is our sovereign God at His workbench tuning our hearts like that of a fine instrument. When we are wandering, he may tighten up the A string so that we come up from our dullness of life to that which rings a perfect melody. The important distinction here is that we are in the hands of the living God, the master musician who knows all of His instruments inside and out for he designed and formed them (Psalm 139:13). Notice, we are not tuning our own hearts, rather He is shaping us into his image.

As for the fount, the writer draws on your imagination in painting a fountain that is perpetually overflowing. This water spilling over unceasingly is meant to represent the mercy and blessing of God on our lives. We are so unworthy of His affection, yet He draws us to Himself. This is also a reference to the words of God in the book of Jeremiah:

"Be appalled, O heavens, at this;

be shocked, be utterly desolate,

declares the LORD,

for my people have committed two evils:

they have forsaken me,

the fountain of living waters,

and hewed out cisterns for themselves,

broken cisterns that can hold no water." (2:12-13)

God refers to himself as the fountain of living water. All who drink this water from this fountain shall live. Jesus draws on this in reference to himself. In Christ we find "streams of mercy, never ceasing."

"..If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." (John 7:37b-38)

"..but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14)

Verse 2

In the seventh chapter of the book of 1 Samuel, there is a story about Samuel and his dealings with the people of Israel after a season of rebellion. Israel entered into battle with the Philistines (4:1-4) where they were soundly defeated (4:10-11). The Israelites had this thing where they would carry around the Ark of the Covenant like a rabbit's foot hoping that they could wave it like a magic wand and win whatever battle they fought. In the same way, we drag our Lord around like a rabbits foot, only rubbing it when we are in times of distress or need a miracle. So Israel carried the ark into battle and the Philistines defeated them and stole the ark. They kept the ark for seven months and decided they did not want it anymore because God was whooping up on their God, Dagon, every night that they went to sleep (5:2-4). The Philistines took two cows and sent the ark back to the land of Israel where it was joyfully received (6:13).

This all came about because of Israel's rebellion against God. So after 20 years or so of apparent lamenting, Samuel told Israel to repent (7:3-4) and interceded for them by offering up sacrifices and prayer. The Philistines heard they were gathered together and decided to make another run at Israel. Though Israel was afraid, Samuel interceded on their behalf and the Lord defeated the Philistines that day. To mark the event of Israel turning back to serve the living God and His rescuing them from the hand of the Philistines, Samuel erected a stone and called it "Ebenezer" which means stone of help. So with that in mind, as we sing out the figurative raising of our own Ebenezer, we are submitting to God that He is our stone of help and without him we would not have come to this point of salvation: "Hither by thy help I've come." We also trust in Him as our help to bring us safely home to Him. It was He who sought us when we were not only strangers but haters of God (Romans 1:29-30; 8:7-8), and it will be He who keeps us until the end.

Verse 3

By God's grace we have been saved through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. How great a debtor were we! We carried an insurmountable debt until Christ, in His free grace, set us free from the bondage of sin to live a life in pursuit of God's glory.

A fetter is a restraint around one's ankle. This could be attached to a fixed point or like the classic cartoons, a big heavy ball. There is an acknowledgment in the next four lines that though we are set free from our bondage to sin, we still battle our flesh. Paul gives the image in Romans 7 of our new selves chained to the dead body of our old person, dragging it around, still battling the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil. We should plea to God to bind us to Himself. Just as it was by His saving grace alone that we come to knowing faith, so it is also by grace alone that we are kept in His graces, free to live a life of gratitude and obedience to the lamb who was slain. Plead with God in your prayers to hold fast your faith, to seal your heart for His heavenly courts when you enter into His joy. It is His good pleasure to act upon the petition of the saints, and those whom he calls he never forsakes (see John 6:35-40; 10:27-30; Romans 8:29-30).

Bonus Verse?

I'm not entirely sure where it came from, but in the Sovereign Grace Music rendition, there is a fourth verse that isn't in the original hymn:

"Oh that day when freed from sinning

I shall see Thy lovely face

Full arrayed in blood-washed linen

How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace

Come, my Lord, no longer tarry

Bring Thy promises to pass

For I know Thy pow’r will keep me

Till I’m home with Thee at last"

This is the apex of the hymn, truly. This verse adds the longing vision of the return of Christ. Oh that day! The day when Christ will right every wrong, we will be glorified forever in our resurrected bodies, and sin will be no more! We shall gaze upon the beauty of our risen Savior and sing "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!", "Holy, Holy, Holy!" Revelation 7:9-12 comes to mind, which is probably where the person who added this verse drew their inspiration.

The hymn ends with the greatest comfort for the believer: assurance of salvation. You were saved by grace, you cannot lose it by works. Obedient faith is the fruit of true salvation. The nutrients feeding the fruit-producing tree is the keeping power of Jesus Christ. "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:37-39)

The Lord bless you, and keep you this day!

**If you want to hear a large group of believers bellowing out this song live, see the YouTube link below:

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