We Rest On Thee

Last night we watched End of the Spear, about Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, and the other three men who were speared to death by the Indians (then known as Aucas, now as Waodani, their name for themselves) they wanted to try to reach for the Lord over 50 years ago. I had seen it before and thought the others had, but they didn’t remember it. There was so much more of the story I wished they could know: I’d recommend the companion documentary, Beyond the Gates of Splendor.

The story made the national news at the time, and then in the following years Elisabeth Elliot told it in more detail in the book Through Gates of Splendor. The title comes from this hymn which the men used to sing together — I am thinking they sang it the night before they went out, but I don’t remember for sure.

We Rest On Thee

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!
We go not forth alone against the foe;
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.

Yes, in Thy Name, O Captain of salvation!
In Thy dear Name, all other names above;
Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.
Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.

We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
And needing more each day Thy grace to know:
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
“We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
“We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!
Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise;
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.

~ Edith G. Cherry

The tune is to Finlandia by Sibelius, by which we also sing “Be Still My Soul.” Oddly, I have never heard it sung in church. I’ve only heard it on the radio. But many times when I think of these men, this hymn come to mind. The first few lines of the third verse especially resonate with me.

By the way, the foe they were going against was not the Aucas/Waodani. The foe was Satan, “hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Corinthians 4:3-4)

Ephesians 6:10-13: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Updated to add: My friend Bobbi found this version on You Tube, which sounds like the recording I hear on the radio:

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8 thoughts on “We Rest On Thee

  1. I’ve never heard of this song, but now it’s playing in my mind! I love the words and the connection with Jim Elliot and the other missionaries. Thanks for the little details! 🙂

  2. Great post. I haven’t thought of this hymn for a long time – thanks for the reminder. “Our Shield and Defender” — oh, I love that.

    Thanks for that wonderful shoe display idea. I will have to remember that for Baby’s 16th birthday! 🙂

  3. Thank you for posting this. I first heard of Jim Elliott at a very young age in the late 50s. Oh what faith Jim and the others including their wives had.

    We Rest On Thee should be song much more in our churches.

  4. I am looking to purchase the DVD series on Jungle Missionaries as you have reviewed above. Do you know here I can get these in South Africa.
    Charmaine

  5. Pingback: Through Gates of Splendor | Stray Thoughts

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