Horatio Spafford’s Encouragement: Part 2 of 2

If you read the blog last week, you know Horatio Spafford’s declaration of great faith despite devastating personal loss. Now let’s take a brief look at each verse to better understand this message of hope that Spafford penned.

 

Verse 1: Spafford’s opening focuses on the sovereignty of our holy God. Whether we are in a time of peace or turmoil, God is not only in control, but His purposes are for my soul to be well. Notice this “peace;” it is a peace with purpose and energy. He likens this peace to a river, a body of water that has great power and brings life to that which it touches. He then mentions the turmoil of sea billows, no doubt grieving the sea that robbed him of his children. Finally, he claims the promise that whether in peace or tumult, “It is well with my soul.”

 

Verse 2: As if Spafford is anticipating the question, “Why has God taught you that it is well with your soul?” he answers that the shedding of Jesus’ blood has defeated Satan’s efforts and rescued him from helplessness.

 

Verse 3: Do you ever have news you need to tell someone, but you must first tell them how good the news is before you get to the point? The first half of verse 3 is as if he must prepare you for how great this news is. Are you sitting down…here it comes…are you ready for this? Spafford says, I’m about to tell you something important about my sin, but first, “O the bliss of this glorious though!” Let me start again, “My sin…” and I don’t mean just some of, but all of it! Now the truth, my sin “…is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more; praise the Lord, O my soul!” The Apostle Paul uses this language in Colossians 2:13-14. He describes our state as dead in our sin but made alive in Jesus because our sin and debt has been nailed to His cross. What better reason to “praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”?

 

Verse 4: What better hope is there for one enduring a broken world, laboring for righteousness, but still saddled with guilt and shame? Glory! That day we’re promised when all things are made new and right, and Spafford asks that it come quickly. Of course he does, he is echoing the cry of all creation. However, it’s not just a request, it is a trust in the promise fulfilled. He recognizes that in this life, we do not see Jesus clearly. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:6-7, “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” Spafford understands this, and he writes this verse with the anticipation of Revelations 7:9-17 when the resurrected saints join the angels in praising Jesus for His mighty work of deliverance. The Apostle John concludes this section by quoting Isaiah, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

 

If you’re like our middle schoolers, you might ask why Spafford would say, “Even so, it is well with my soul.” We had to ponder that a bit, but Spafford is deep in Revelations in verse 4, and one cannot read Revelations without recognizing the cosmic battle that culminates in Jesus’ final triumph. Is this triumph the final judgement or the final salvation? For all who have sinned, it is judgement; Scripture makes that clear. But what about those whose sins are forgiven and who have been given the righteousness of Jesus? Their identity is “in Christ,” which is the determining factor. The bell has tolled and those “in Christ” at that moment can say “it is well with my soul.” Even we can claim this salvation because Jesus has rescued, redeemed, and (at that point) glorified us.

What hope and joy we find in Spafford’s testimony of faith. Praise God!

Grace and Peace,

Jay