*For lyrics go to http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/c/o/comethou.htm*
Robert Robinson was a drunk and gambler. At the age of 17, he and some friends of his attended an evangelistic meeting with the intention to mock it. George Whitfield was preaching there and Robert was moved in an unexpected way. For the next three years, he was deeply convicted about his sin and at the age of 20 he called on the name of the Lord for salvation. He later became the pastor of a Baptist church in Cambridge, England after pastoring a Method church. He wrote this hymn to go along with a sermon in 1757. Later in his ministry, he was accused of becoming a Unitarian and apparently wandered away from the faith in other areas as well based on this hymn of his.
Many years later Robert Robinson was riding in a stagecoach with a lady who was studying a hymnal. She was humming to the tune of his hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” He turned to the woman and said, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.”
This is personally my favorite hymn for a few different reasons.
One is that I have wondered away from God so much in my past and still struggle with the temptation to leave God and do my own thing. Ever since I got saved at 15 my life has been a roller coaster when it comes to my walk with the Lord. I used to base my spiritual life on my emotions – if I did not feel close to God I did not think I was. When I started to study the Bible, my emotions mellowed out and I became more stable, but now the temptation is to not read my Bible and I give into that temptation at times. I usually have the pattern of not reading or praying when I am on breaks from school. One time, I went a month without reading the Bible or praying and some of that was on a mission trip!
The second reason is because I love the story of redemption and sanctification in it. Robinson writes about conversion and the believer’s struggle with sin. The streams of mercy provide salvation – Jesus interposes His precious blood; we are bound to sin while bound to this flesh and this causes us to wander, but Robinson does not just leave it there. The stanza that most people leave out is the best one in my opinion. The 5th stanza is the conclusion about how when we die we will be “freed from sinning” and “shall see Thy lovely face.” Believers might still sin and sin often, but there will be one day that we will never sin again – the day we will see Christ’s face and sing of His sovereign grace!
The third reason I love this hymn is due to the reference to 1 Samuel 7:12. The Philistines fought and defeated the Israelites. They killed 4,000 men and took the Ark of the Covenant back to their pagan land. They placed the Ark beside the statue of their god Dagon. The next morning Dagon was fallen down toward the Ark as if he was bowing down to the Ark. The priests lifted it back up. The next morning the same thing happened and Dagon was decapitated and both hands were broken off. God also plagued the Philistines with tumors as punishment for stealing the Ark. They returned the Ark of the Covenant back to Israel because they were afraid and did not want anyone to die by the hand of God. Samuel judged the nation of Israel and told them to repent of their idolatry with the Baals and Ashtaroth. The people listened and served the Lord only. The Philistines were drawing near Israel again, so Samuel prayed and offered a sacrifice to the Lord for the people were afraid. God heard Samuel and “thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were routed before Israel (7:10).” Israel chased the Philistines and defeated them. Afterward, Samuel took a stone, set it up as a reminder to the people, and called it Ebenezer. Ebenezer means stone of help signifying that the Lord has helped Israel and brought them this far in life and without Him they would not be where they are now.
This hymn has helped my repent of my sins and reminded me of Christ’s unconditional love, grace, and mercy towards me. It also reminds me that without Christ’s help, I would not be where I am today. Some of the last lyrics are my favorite, “O that day when freed from sinning, / I shall see Thy lovely face; / Clothed then in blood washed linen / How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace.” It is the hope of believers that we will no longer sin one day and that we WILL see Christ’s and God’s lovely face!