Trust and Obey

(picture of John H. Sammis)


“Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him” (Ps. 2:12)

INTRO.: A song which helps us to understand that in order to be saved our trust in the Lord must be manifest in obedience is “Trust and Obey” (#326 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #644 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by John Henry Sammis, who was born in Brooklyn, NY, on July 6, 1846. Little information is available about his early life. In 1868, at the age of 23, he moved to Logansport, IN, where he became a successful businessman and also served for several years as a YMCA secretary. Eventually, he decided to become a Presbyterian minister, so he attended both McCor-mick and Lane Theological Seminaries, graduating from the latter in 1881. After this, he worked with churches in Glidden, IA; Indianapolis, IN; Grandhaven, MI; Red Wing, MN; and Sullivan, IN.

Also, Sammis was a good friend of composer Daniel Brink Towner (1850-1919). Towner, who provided the music for many well-loved hymns including “At Calvary,” “Grace Greater Than Our Sin,” and “Anywhere with Jesus,” was the first head of the music department at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL. In 1886, he was leading singing for Dwight L. Moody in an evangelistic meeting at Brockton, MA. During the course of the campaign, Towner heard a young man who evidently knew little about the Bible or Christianity say at one of the meetings in answer to a question, “I am not quite sure–but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey.” Thinking that the idea would make a good song, the composer jotted down the statement and sent it off with the story behind it to Sammis so that he could turn the concept into a full hymn.

Upon receiving Towner’s letter, Sammis first penned the familiar lines of the chorus, which served as a capsule out of which the stanzas were then developed. Afterwards, Towner composed the tune, and the hymn first appeared in the collection Hymns Old and New, published by the Fleming H. Revell Co. of Chicago, IL, in 1887. In 1901, Sammis moved to California to become a faculty member at the Moody Bible Institute of Los Angeles. He produced over 100 hymns, including “He’s a Friend of Mine,” most of which can be found in “Songs of TRUST” and “Songs of OBEDIENCE,” both compiled by T. C. Horton, who founded the Bible Institute in Los Angeles, and R. A. Torrey in 1918. Sammis taught at the school until his death at Los Angeles on June 12, 1919.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, the song has appeared in the the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

The song emphasizes two aspects of our salvation—our faith and the resultant willingness to subject ourselves to God’s word in obedience.

I. We are told in stanza 1 that those who trust and obey have Christ abiding in them
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
A. If we trust and obey, we’ll walk in the light: 1 Jn. 1:7
B. As we do so, the Lord will shed glory on our way: 2 Cor. 3:18
C. Thus, Christ will abide in us because we abide in His word: Jn. 8:31

II. It is said in stanza 2, not in Hymns for Worship, that those who trust and obey receive the Lord’s help
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
A. Shadows and clouds are often used to represent the trials and tribulations of life: Jas. 1:2
B. His smile then represents the grace that He offers to help us when we need it: Heb. 4:16
C. Even though we may have doubts, fears, sighs, and tears, the Lord promises that if we trust Him and commit our way to Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts: Ps. 37:3-5

III. We find in stanza 3 (#2 in HFW) that those who trust and obey are repaid for their toil
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
A. All Christians have a burden or load to bear: Gal. 6:2, 5
B. However, God is not unjust in forgetting to repay what we do for Him: Heb. 6:10
C. Even in grief or loss, if we trust in the Lord rather than putting confidence in men, He will hear us when we call on Him in our distress and bless us: Ps. 118:5-8

IV. It is pointed out in stanza 4 (#3 in HFW) that those who trust and obey are those who submit to God
But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
A. It is possible for us to “prove” the delights of His love: Rom. 12:1-2
B. But this can be done only as we trust and obey, which is symbolized by laying our all on the altar just as sacrifices were laid on the altar in the Old Testament: Gen. 8:20
C. We must understand that the Lord’s favor and joy can be received only by those who do the works that God commanded: Jas. 2:21-26

V. We are reminded in stanza 5 (#4 in HFW) that those who trust and obey must continue to follow the Lord
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
A. To “sit at His feet” symbolizes listening to Jesus’s word: Lk. 10:38-42
B. To “walk by His side in the way” symbolizes doing what we have heard: Col. 2:6-7
C. As we do what He says and go where He sends, we are reminded that even after our trust and obedience lead to salvation, we must be like Israel and keep God’s covenant with us to be a special treasure to Him: Exo. 10:1-6

CONCL.: The chorus reemphasizes the concepts of trusting the Lord and obeying His will
Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.
A balanced view of our salvation must be presented. Those who experience true joy and peace from Christ are those who “Trust and Obey.”


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