GREAT GOD OF WONDERS
O Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty. (Psalm 104:1)
It is possible for Christians to lose a sense of the infinite power and greatness of God and make of Him merely a heavenly friend—a God who is no bigger than our mundane needs. Our personal and intimate relationship with God must always be balanced with the realization that He is still the “Great God of Wonders.” This great God is as unbounded in His presence as He is in His glory and power—even the heavens cannot contain Him (1 Kings 8:27). This was the awareness that King Solomon had after building his magnificent temple. He stated in this passage that if God cannot be contained even in the highest heaven, “how much less in this temple I have built.” God’s great design in all of His works is the manifestation of His own glory. His glory is the result of His very nature and acts. A mark of a mature Christian is the ability to say “not unto us, but unto Thy name be glory” (Psalm 29:2).
The author of this hymn text, Samuel Davies, was an American Presbyterian minister who was appointed president of Princeton University in 1759, succeeding the well-known evangelist, Jonathan Edwards. Dr. Davies was a man of distinguished ability and was highly influential in the fields of religion and education. He wrote a number of fine hymns that had a wide acceptance in the 18th century, especially in England.
Although not a trained musician, composer John Newton could, when necessary, compose the music for texts as well. His musical setting is well-suited to this fine text by Samuel Davies, and it makes a strong vehicle for conveying its majestic quality, especially on the refrain:
Great God of wonders! all Thy ways are matchless, God-like and divine; but the fair glories of Thy grace more God-like and unrivaled shine, more God-like and unrivaled shine.
In wonder lost, with trembling joy, we take the pardon of our God: Pardon for crimes of deepest dye, a pardon bought with Jesus’ blood, a pardon bought with Jesus’ blood.
O may this strange, this matchless grace, this God-like miracle of love, fill the whole earth with grateful praise, and all the angelic choirs above, and all the angelic choirs above.
Refrain: Who is a pardoning God like Thee? Or who has grace so rich and free? Or who has grace so rich and free?
Read: 1 Chronicles 29:11; Job 36:5; Psalm 31:19; 145:3; Isaiah 40:26, 28
Reflect again on God’s greatness. In what ways do we sometimes try to contain His greatness? Determine to let “God be God” in every situation. Carry this musical question as you go.
Samuel Davies, 1723–1761 – Amazing grace (pp. 270-271)