Peace like a river — Hugh Wetmore

There’s a popular worship song that goes like this:

            “I’ve got peace like a river, peace like a river,
            I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.
            I’ve got peace like a river, peace like a river,
            I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.”

It is number 353 in the widely-used ‘Mission Praise’, it’s sung in Churches and Sunday Schools throughout the world. 

Think about it for a moment:  Is it a truly Christian song?   Not really — a Buddhist could sing the same song with sincerity.  Buddhists specialise is offering “peace”. They get it through meditation.

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Think about it for a moment: what is the source of this peace in Colossians 3:15? Jesus Christ.  “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts”.  

Think about it for a moment:  Does ths song fit the Colossians 3:16 criterion of being “rich in wisdom”?   Not really — it is trite, a superficial expression of one’s subjective feelings.

Think about it for a moment:  Does the song fit the Colossians 3:16 criterion of being rich in the “word of Christ”?  I doubt it. It seems to allude to another popular hymn about Peace: “When peace like a river attendeth my way.”  Why else would it describe Peace as being “like a river”?  That is not a common simile.

But yes, there IS a Scripture that refers to “peace … like a river”.  It is Isaiah 48:18-22.  “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments. Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea. … Go out from Babylon … declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it, say ‘The LORD has redeemed His people’.   They did not thirst when He led them through the deserts; He made water flow from the rock.  … But there is no peace, says the LORD, for the wicked”. The wicked are those who do not obey God’s commandments.

I will only have “peace like a river in my soul” when I flow consistently in the will of the God of Peace.  When I “pay attention to God’s commandments”.  When I obey God.

33d    PEACE THROUGH OBEDIENCE   Isaiah 48:18-22

Obey God’s commandments, and then you will see
your peace like a river will flow,
your righteousness constant as tides of the sea,
and you’ll know God’s own peace in your soul.

            There’ll be peace … in your soul ..
There’ll be peace, God’s own peace, in your soul.

Go out and be free from the prison of your sin,
the LORD freed you from its control!
Declare this with joy, give the credit to Him,
and you’ll know God’s own peace in your soul.

There’ll be peace … in your soul ..
There’ll be peace, God’s own peace, in your soul.

The LORD cares for you, though your troubles may increase,
His daily provision He’ll show.
But if you rebel, you will never know peace,
you will never know peace in your soul.

            So obey … God’s commands …
and you’ll know God’s own peace in your soul.

Words: Hugh G Wetmore   © 2011,2022
in the context of all the circumstances described in Isaiah 48:18-22
Metre: 11.8.11.9.6.9     Tune: Ville du Havre (“It is well with my soul”)  

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