Hymn text by John Hughes, 1873-1932. View the full text of this hymn.

No matter what your personal views on morality are, it’s clear that there are a lot of different voices competing for attention. We hear some people telling us that something is good and right and others telling us that it’s evil. These voices seem to surround us and shout so loudly that it’s difficult to hear ourselves think. It can be confusing and disorienting. What are we to believe?

When it’s hard to know what to cling to, it’s reassuring to know that there is at least one source out there that we can count on to be constant and unchanging. We can count on the Lord to teach us truth, no matter what. It doesn’t matter what we hear, or what circumstances the world finds itself in. He is the source of truth and light. And since we know that He will always tell us the truth, we can count on Him to guide our way forward.

Guide us, O thou great Jehovah,
Guide us to the promised land.
We are weak, but thou art able;
Hold us with thy pow’rful hand.
Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit,
Feed us till the Savior comes,
Feed us till the Savior comes.

We will struggle in the face of so many competing influences. We can’t help it, being human. But while we are weak, He is able to withstand those temptations, and He can help us to proceed forward. And we can count on the Holy Ghost to be a positive influence on us, helping to steer us back to Him. He is not here on earth with us, and we don’t know when He will be, but we can rely on the Spirit to nourish us spiritually and keep us well-fed until His triumphant return.

He guides us in the same way he guided the children of Israel during their flight from Egypt, although perhaps not as visually impressively. As Israel left Egypt, the Lord went before them as a cloud by day, serving not only to keep the hot desert sun off of them, but also showing them clearly which direction they needed to travel. At night, He stood before them as a tremendous pillar of fire, not only providing them light, but also keeping the Egyptians at bay. While we don’t see a pillar of fire before us today, he can still be a “fiery, cloudy pillar” for us. We have His words that show us the direction we need to take, and that can also act as a cover from trials and temptations. His Spirit can light our way as we trust in Him just as clearly as can a pillar of fire. He is there to guide us the same as He did the Israelites, provided we are willing to accept His guidance.

It’s when we don’t listen to His counsel and instead let the din of the world drown it out that we fall into trouble. That’s an easy enough trap to fall into. And by the same token, it’s an easy trap to avoid. We just have to find the one voice, the one influence in our life that never changes.

When the earth begins to tremble,
Bid our fearful thoughts be still;
When thy judgments spread destruction,
Keep us safe on Zion’s hill.

When we are confused, scared, or fearful, we can take courage in what the Lord tells us. We can trust that He is constant and unchanging, and that He will always lead us in the right. And as we place our trust in Him, we can know that He will keep us safe on Zion’s hill, singing praises and glory unto Him.

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