Walter Chalmers Smith, 1824–1908
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17)
In our enjoyment of a personal relationship with God, we sometimes lose sight of the awe and reverence that should also be part of our worship of Him. Often we tend to forget the supreme holiness and greatness of who God really is. In our hymnody and theology we can carelessly treat our Lord as merely “the friend upstairs.”
Consider this ancient advice from a father to his son:
First of all, my child, think magnificently of God. Magnify His providence; adore His power, pray to Him frequently and incessantly. Bear Him always in your mind. Teach your thoughts to reverence Him in every place for there is no place where He is not. Therefore, my child, fear and worship and love God; first and last, think magnificently of Him!
Paternus, Advice to a Son
The author of the fine worshipful text of “Immortal, Invisible” was Walter Chalmers Smith, a pastor and an important leader of the Free churches of Scotland. He had various volumes of his poetry published, including several hymnals. “Immortal, Invisible” was first published in Smith’s 1867 hymnal, Hymns of Christ and the Christian Life.
One can reflect at length on the greatness of God as described by these words:
Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes, most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, Almighty, victorious—Thy great name we praise.
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light, nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might; Thy justice, like mountains, high soaring above Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.
To all, life Thou givest—to both great and small; in all life Thou livest—the true life of all; we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree, and wither and perish—but naught changeth Thee.
Great Father of glory, pure Father of light, Thine angels adore Thee all veiling their sight; all praise we would render—O help us to see ’tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee!
For Today: Job 37:21–24; Psalm 36:5, 6; 104:1–5; Colossians 1:15–17, 19; Revelation 21:23
J. P. Phillips, in his book Your God Is Too Small, reminds us that our concept of God is generally too limited. Reflect on this truth as you sing—