There is nothing as wonderful as praising God. And although there are many ways to praise Him, my favourite is by singing hymns.
I must admit that I prefer the old time gospel hymns. Most of the modern gospel music has an emphasis on the rhythm and sound of the music and the image of the singer or band so that the lyrics mostly fall by the wayside, and we find that in many instances the lyrics are so thin and devoid of real meaning and inspiration that it does nothing to build our relationship with God.
Be that as it may, one of my favourite hymns is I’m bound for the Promised Land.
My aim is not to provide background on this hymn with regards to its history or general interpretation, but to rather relate my personal experience and interpretation of this marvelous hymn.
I grew up with this wonderful hymn, and sang it many times in church, or by myself, but it was only recently that it came to life for me.
For completeness I will include the lyrics here
I’m Bound for the Promised Land
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.
I am bound for the promised land,
Oh who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.
Shines one eternal day;
There God the Son forever reigns,
And scatters night away.
Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
Are felt and feared no more.
This hymn no doubt talks about Heaven and how wonderful it will be there. How we will never have to experience this wretched life here below, full of disappointments, heartaches, illness and whatever more.
For the purpose of this post I will only focus on the first stanza and the chorus.
The Bible is full of types and symbols and we know that Jordan represents death. Now Jordan does not only represent the physical death on earth as we pass from this realm to the next, but it represents also the attributes of death.
The attributes of death includes sin, sickness, and sorrow, to name a few. We know there is only one sin and that is unbelief in God.
As the hymn start we find the speaker on the banks of the Jordan river. We find that the banks are stormy, so we can deduct from that that the Jordan river is stormy. That is must certainly be turning and fussing.
So my way of symbolizing death, we find the speaker in a dire situation. It could be an incurable illness, it could be a wayward child choosing drugs over living a good Christian life. It could be you, with your struggles, as much as it is me with my struggles.
Theses struggles always aim to tell one story or to purport one “reality”, and that is that Christ is not enough for this situation that the individual finds himself in.
Satan is clever and sly and he may not tell you outright that God is not real, but he may tell you that it is so that there is a God, and that that God is almighty and all powerful, but that because of something you did, you don’t qualify for His grace in this situation, although He helps others in similar situations.
Satan is the father of lies. We must never forget that and therefore never believe his stories, no matter how convincing and true it may sound. The truth is that God has Himself paid the price for your redemption, which includes your healing, your deliverance, and whatever you may require to live a Godly life.
So, we find the speaker in this dire situation, as we are also many times. And although the river is storming and may even threaten to engulf the speaker, he finds himself on the banks of the river and not in the river.
This is also a tactic of that wicked one, to try to trick us and make the situation look dire when in fact we stand on a solid Rock.
I believe that the bank the speaker finds himself on is the unchangeable, unbreakable Rock of Ages and not the sinking sands of man’s ideas and theology who would for instance tell you today that divorcing your spouse and then remarrying another is wrong and tomorrow finds no fault with such and declare the blessing of God on such marriage.
Although the speaker is in this difficult position, we find he is not hopeless and despondent, because amidst all this, he casts a wishful eye towards Canaan, which was the promised land and no doubt represents Heaven.
The wonderful thing I want to point out is that the speaker does not have a wishful eye to the future, to something that is coming, he has a wishful eye to a place where his possessions lie. It is not something he will posses someday, after some sort of achievement of sorts. No! It is his possessions right now! The speaker states that clearly: To where my possessions lie. It is his possessions right now here on the the stormy banks of death.
Never forget that. God Himself came down in the form of a human and paid the full price of redemption so that we can be in Heavenly places right now and also our healing has been secured. (Isiah 53:5)
And then the chorus, I am bound for the Promised Land. No matter the breakdown next to the road, or the detour or the storms and troubles along the way, regardless of all that, I am bound for the Promised Land.
It is not those that start the race, but those that finish. Pray to God to grant you the grace to finish the race, not on your steam, but on His.