Do you remember the hymn, “The Immutable Basis of a Sinner’s Hope?” No? Me either. But I do remember it as it was later retitled, “The Solid Rock.” The lyrics were written in 1834 by Edward Mote. The tune and name change came almost 30 years later, written by William Bradbury.
Mote was not brought up in a Christian home and is reported as saying, “So ignorant was I that I did not know there was a God.” He came to know the Lord at age 18 and went into the cabinet making business for the next 37 years. It was during this time that he wrote the hymn.
Let’s look at this beautiful hymn that a cabinet maker wrote on his way to work.
You can find the lyrics here.
Mote’s original title expresses that the immutable basis of a sinner’s hope is Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I wonder as he wrote the line, “I dare not trust the sweetest frame” if he thought about those people who never told him there was a God or if he had been hurt by someone he trusted. He discovered as we all do that even the sweetest people, we know can disappoint us.
The second verse reminds us that in those dark times when we can’t see God’s face that we can rest on his unchanging grace. It also assures us that in the storms of life our anchor holds. The third verse continues this theme telling us that we are supported in the flood by his oath, his covenant, and his blood and that no matter what else gives way God is our constant.
The fourth verse gives us hope for the final victory when dressed in his righteousness alone; we will be faultless to stand before the throne. Then the chorus simply states what the message of the whole hymn. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.
Mote wrote two other verses that are not included in the hymn that we know today.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
’Midst all the hell I feel within,
On His completed work I lean.
I trust His righteous character
His council, promise, and His power;
His honor and His name’s at stake,
To save me from the burning lake.
It seems Mote was experiencing some inner turmoil. I love how he knew the different aspects of the nature of God as he states that he trusts his righteous character, his council, promise, and power. He knew that if God didn’t save him that God’s honor and his name was at stake. He knew God as a promise keeper as well as the solid rock.
I pray that he is your solid rock as well and that your salvation is sure in him and that you know he holds you in the storms of life.
“God is our refuge and strength,an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give wayand the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” (Psalm 46:1-2) (NIV)