The word “gather” means to bring together and take in from scattered places or sources. When we talk of our Heavenly Father gathering us, we are speaking of our Lord finding us in our scattered places and bringing us together in His care. This brings to mind the parable of the lost sheep, where the shepherd leaves the 99 that had followed him and searches for the one that has gone astray. When he finds this sheep, he carries it home, puts it with the others, and celebrates its return with his neighbors.
The lesson we learn is that we are wanted and that we are being sought after that we might be gathered or taken in. The safety and peace of the Lord’s presence is truly the paramount refuge mankind can hope for. As C.S. Lewis said,
God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
All good things come from God (Joshua 23:15), so the imagery of being “preserved” or “nestled” in “his grace” or his “bosom” is to show that God’s desire, God’s plan is for us to be with Him.
This hymn reflects the love the Lord has for His children and beautifully paints the truth that we cannot sever ourselves from His love. Can we sin? Absolutely, But God loves us anyway. Can we die? I sure haven’t heard of anyone who hasn’t. But God loves us forever and has provided a way for us to live after death. He loves us always, forever, and no matter what, regardless of what we are doing or have done.