Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"The Believer's Faith and Hope Encouraged"

As I continue to take T. David Gordon's advice and read more prose, I have come across the poetry of Raph Erskin. Here is his poem based on Isaiah 54.5, "Thy maker is thy husband." This poem is to be an encouragement to believer's that find themselves assailed by the afflictions of life in a fallen world. How often do these afflictions seem to be insurmountable, yet, Erskine reminds us of our victory in Christ. The poem begins with grounding our hope in the victory of Christ as prophesied in that great first preaching of the gospel in Genesis 3.15, and then moves the weak in faith through a series of reminders and applications of the blessing of being united to our victorious "husband." Erskine provides 17 different descriptions of Christ for the believer, which provides 17 different reasons to take hold of him and press on in courage and hope.

The cunning serpent may accuse,
But never shall succeed ;
The God of peace will Satan bruise,
Thy husband broke his head.

Hell-furies threaten to devour,
Like lions robb'd of whelps:
But lo! in ev'ry perilous hour,
Thy husband always helps.

That feeble faith may never fail,
Thine advocate has pray'd ;
Though winnowing tempests may assail,
Thy husband's near to aid.

Though grevious trials grow apace,
And put thee to a stand ;
Thou may'st rejoice in ev'ry case,
Thy husband's help at hand.

Trust, though, when in desertion dark,
No twinkling star by night,
No ray appear, no glimm'ring spark;
Thy husband is thy light.

His beams anon the clouds can rent,
And through the vapours run
For of the brightest firmament
Thy husband is the sun.

Without the sun [the] mourning go,
And scarce the way can find,
He brings, through paths they do not know;
Thy husband leads the blind.

Though fire and water he with skill
Brings to a wealthy land;
Rude flames and roaring waves be still,
Thy husband can command.

When sin's disorders heavy brings,
That press thy soul with weight;
Then mind how many crooked things
Thy husband has made straight.

Still look to him with longing eyes,
Though both thine eyes should fail;
Cry, and at length, though not thy cries,
Thy husband shall prevail.

Still hope for favour at his hand,
Though favour don't appear:
When help seems most aloof to stand
Thy husband's then most near.

In cases hopeless-like, faint hopes
May fail and fears annoy;
But most when stript of earthly props,
Thy husband thou'lt enjoy.

If providence the promise thwart,
And yet thy humbled mind
'Gainst hope believes in hope,'
thou art Thy husband's dearest friend.

Art thou a weakling, poor and faint,
In jeopardy each hour?
Let not thy weakness move thy plaint,
Thy husband has the pow'r.

Dread not thy foes that foil'd thee long,
Will ruin thee at length:
When thou art weak then art thou strong,
Thy husband is thy strength.

When foes are mighty, many too,
Don't fear, nor quit the field;
'Tis not with thee they have to do,
Thy husband is thy shield.

'Tis hard to strive against an host,
Or strive against the stream:
But, lo! when all seems to be lost,
Thy husband will redeem.

You can find this and other poems by Erskine over at Fire and Ice.


  1. Very encouraging, thank you for posting Dave.

  2. Hi Dave,

    Two humble suggestions, in keeping with your developing affection for poetry:

    1. Read Gerard Manley Hopkins. And then read him again. Repeatedly, until it soaks in. Forever.

    2. Read Hopkins with the words of Williams in mind:

    You will not find it there but in
    despised poems.
    It is difficult
    to get the news from poems
    yet men die miserably every day
    for lack
    of what is found there.

    ~ William Carlos Williams, from "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"

  3. Thanks, what do you suggest I begin with?