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Summary: God is the refuge of our soul.

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Psalms 46:1-3 KJV God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. [2] Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; [3] Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

I. INTRODUCTION—AN OLD HYMN

A. Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul

-This past week during some of the normal private devotional time, I happened to run across several old hymns that I was not familiar with. As I listened to them, their words were so incredibly compelling that I started seeking out the story behind some of the writers. One particular hymn was written by Anne Steele. I found an excellent biography about her written by Kevin Twitt, who is one of the leaders of a band called Indelible Grace.

Anne Steele lived in England from 1716-1778. She was born in Broughton, where her father, who was a timber merchant, preached for 60 years – most of the time without receiving a salary! She actually lived only 15 miles from the great Isaac Watts, although it is unlikely that they ever met. Her mother died when she was 3 years old, and when she was 19 she suffered a severe injury to her hip, rendering her an invalid for most of her life. When she was 21, she was engaged to Robert Elscourt, but the day before the wedding he was drowned while swimming in a river! She never was married, and assisted her father in his pastoral labors for her whole life, although for the last 9 years of her life, she was never able to leave her bed. Still in spite of all of this her disposition was described as “cheerful and helpful” and her life as one of “unaffected humility, warm benevolence, sincere friendship, and genuine devotion.”

She wrote 144 hymns, as well as 34 psalms in verse. Amos Wells (writing in 1914) says she was “the first woman writer whose hymns came to be largely used in hymn-books.” He describes her hymns as “very simple, clear, and beautiful, breathing a spirit of Christian faith and resignation.” 200 years ago her hymns were very popular – in 1808, a church in Boston published its own hymnal, and out of the 152 hymns in the volume, 59 were by Anne Steele! Henry Burrage says that over 100 of her hymns can be found in “modern” hymnals – more than any other hymn writer! He says that “her hymns, written to lighten her own burdens, give beautiful expression to the sweetness of her Christian character, and the depth of her Christian experience.” Her hymns are so rich, and yet easily understood even by those living 250 years after her death!

-The hymn that so struck me was “Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul.”

1. Dear refuge of my weary soul,

On Thee, when sorrows rise

On Thee, when waves of trouble roll,

My fainting hope relies

To Thee I tell each rising grief,

For Thou alone canst heal

Thy Word can bring a sweet relief,

For every pain I feel

2. But oh! When gloomy doubts prevail,

I fear to call Thee mine

The springs of comfort seem to fail,

And all my hopes decline

Yet gracious God, where shall I flee?

Thou art my only trust

And still my soul would cleave to Thee

Though prostrate in the dust

3. Hast Thou not bid me seek Thy face,

And shall I seek in vain?

And can the ear of sovereign grace,

Be deaf when I complain?

No still the ear of sovereign grace,

Attends the mourner's prayer

Oh may I ever find access,

To breathe my sorrows there

4. Thy mercy seat is open still,

Here let my soul retreat

With humble hope attend Thy will,

And wait beneath Thy feet,

Thy mercy seat is open still,

Here let my soul retreat

With humble hope attend Thy will,

And wait beneath Thy feet

-She was one who learned to live with the painful limitations that life had placed on her. From the death of her mother, the poverty of her father’s house, the painful injury to her hip, and the terrible loss of the love of her life all had the capacity to shape her life into a willing vessel.

B. Regular People Needing Supernatural Help

-If you expected never to have difficulties after you came into the church, you are going to be one sadly mistaken person. Trials and tribulations seem to be the very lot in life that some regularly have to bear in this life.

-All that you have to do is to muse through the psalms and you will find that there is much difficulty and burdens that some of God’s greatest people had to bear. Take a look at some of them, Psalm 7, 10, 13, 16, 17, 22, 25, 28, 40, 42, 51, and various others are present. They give us a look at the troubled souls of men.

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