skip to Main Content


A Sermon in Song based on the Hymn:

How Firm a Foundation


A song filled with Scripture!

Originally with seven stanzas, this hymn was first published in 1787. Its author was designated by the initial “K”. In its original form the hymn was called Exceeding Great and Precious Promises.

This is a hymn of Christian assurance. The faith expressed in this hymn pictures confidence in God’s goodness and care. Every stanza after the first contains a promise that God will protect his own people: “I am with thee,” “I am thy God,” “I’ll strengthen thee,” “I will not desert to his foes,” “I’ll never forsake.”

These are sayings from God, selected from Scripture and carefully pieced together in poetic form. There are two to five scriptural references identifiable in each stanza. The author was certainly familiar with the Bible.

This hymn has long been a favorite hymn of Christians, rich and poor, high and low. Andrew Jackson in September 1843, in the course of a conversation at the Hermitage, remarked: “There is a beautiful hymn on the subject of the exceeding great and precious promises of God to His people. It was a favorite hymn with my dear wife till the day of her death. It commences, ‘How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord.’”

A favorite hymn of Robert E. Lee, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson, it was sung at the funeral service of each of these distinguished Americans.

This hymn is a sermon in verse based on the promises of God for His people. In the first stanza we are reminded that the Bible is the firm foundation for Christians, and God has given us all we need.

In the first printing of this hymn, 2 Peter 1:3-4 appeared above the first stanza: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”


Now we will emphasize several phrases in the hymn with songs and scriptures. After each song title I have given the part of the verse that supports the idea. For the sake of time, you may select from the songs listed and perhaps sing only the pertinent verse for each theme.



“When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has an everlasting foundation.” (Proverbs 10:25)

“Behold I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.” (Isaiah 28:16) — Using the image of a building, Isaiah declares that faith is the cornerstone, justice, the line, and righteousness, the plummet by which their spiritual stability will be measured. (John Willis, Commentary on Isaiah)

“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11)

“Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation, for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:18-19)

“The solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19).

Sweet Peace – ”No other foundation is laid”

We Would See Jesus – “the great Rock foundation”



O Spread the Tidings ‘Round – “In Him the word of heaven”

Our God He Is Alive – “God speaks from His inspired Word”



Jesus Lover of My Soul – “other refuge have I none”

Where Could I Go – “seeking a refuge for my soul”



“Joshua said to them, Do not be afraid do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” (Joshua 10:25)

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:25-27)

Fear Not Little Flock

He Keeps Me Singing – “Fear not I am with thee”

Jesus, Savior Pilot Me – “Fear not, I will pilot thee.”

Purer, Yet and Purer – “trusting God without a fear”

Thou Thinkest, Lord, of Me – “What need I fear”



Dismay suggests a sinking feeling. It points to a sense of hopeless discouragement in the face of obstacles or fear in the face of a threat.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

God Will Take Care of You – “Be not dismayed whate’er betide”

In Heavenly Love Abiding – “can I be dismayed?”



“Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Sovereign LORD. You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezek. 34:30-31)

I’ll Live for Him – “My Savior and my God”

My God and I

Sweet Hour of Prayer – “where God, my Savior, shows His face”

Unto Thee, O Lord – “O my God, I trust in Thee”



“Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’” (Genesis 50:24)

“God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle. Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He had said, ‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.’” (Exodus 13:18-19)

“Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take up shield and buckler; arise and come to my aid.” (Psalm 35:1-2)

“O LORD, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid!” (Psalm 22:19)

“Since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18)

Cast Thy Burden on the Lord – “Hear His pledge of coming aid”

Sweeter Than All – “Christ will me His aid afford”

Unto the Hills – “From God the Lord doth come my certain aid”

Yield Not to Temptation – “He is willing to aid you”



“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.” (Psalm 119:28)

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:14-17)

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” (2 Thess. 2:16-17)

Will You Not Tell It today – “if a strength you have found in the strength of the Lord”

Yield Not To Temptation – “comfort strengthen and keep you”



“In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help.” (Psalm 18:6)

“O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.” (Psalm 30:2)

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb 4:16)

Count Your Blessings – “help and comfort give you”

God Is Love – “our help our hope”

I Must Tell Jesus – “Jesus will help me”

Immortal Love, Forever Full – “a present help is He”

O God Our Help In Ages Past



“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:58)

Lord, Speak to Me – “that while I stand”

Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus – “stand in His strength”



Into the Heart of Jesus – “He will uphold and sustain”



A promise of meaningfulness in suffering. The Christian may not escape suffering but God will bring something good out of what he suffers.

“Dear friends do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ.” (1 Peter 4:12)

“My grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

 Beauty for Ashes – “Grace all sufficient, what need we more?”

Is My Name Written There – “Thy blood, O my Savior is sufficient for me”

O God Our Help in Ages Past – “Sufficient is Thine arm alone”



“You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season.” (Job 5:26)

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4)

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11) Ÿ “Whereas the Lord is like a mighty warrior against his enemies, he is like a gentle shepherd in His dealing with His oppressed people.” (Isaiah, Willis)

Flee As A Bird – “He on His bosom will bear thee”

I am Bound for the Promised Land – “in His bosom rest”

Jesus Lover of My Soul – “Let me to Thy bosom fly”



The repetitious grouping of words in the last line reminds us that a similar style of expression is found in Hebrews 13:5.

A hammering repetition climax for the hymn – “I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake!”

Hebrews 13:5-6   “God has said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.”

These are some of the most comforting words in the Bible: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). Jesus picks up the theme and wraps up the first gospel with “Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Come, Come Ye Saints – “Our God will never us forsake”

Flee As A Bird – “He will forsake thee O never”

Walking In Sunlight – “Jesus has said, ‘I’ll never forsake thee’”



Sermon in Song prepared by Paul Brown (1929-2017)


Back To Top