“His Angels His Countenance Always Behold” by Watchman Nee
Songs and Hymns of Life, #306
Post 2 of 2
Please sing through the hymn before reading through the devotional.
And a link to the tune: https://hymnary.org/media/fetch/179361
Last week, we began our walk through this precious hymn by Watchman Nee. We invite you to review that post before we continue through the last two verses of the song.
His angels His countenance always behold,
But never experience His grace;
His saints, while they know His unlimited love,
Have never yet looked on His face.
Yet soon they will rise and His visage behold,
The sight of His glory will gain;
But Mary, beholding His tears as He wept,
Could see His heart’s anguish and pain,
Could see His heart’s anguish and pain.
We soon will see Jesus, our Lord, face to face,
We’ll know Him as never before;
But then we’ll no longer need His tender hand
To heal a heart broken and sore.
In heaven we’ll offer Him praise without end—
No praying or tears needed there,
Nor ever a burden to roll on our Friend,
Or place for our burdensome prayers,
Or place for our burdensome prayers.
In heavenly glory, that day we’ll be crowned
And nevermore carry a cross.
’Tis only on earth where our Lord was disowned
We share His rejection and loss.
When entering rest in that morning so fair,
Our anguish and trials will end;
His sorrow and shame we’ll no more with Him share,
Or sacrifice pleasures for Him,
Or sacrifice pleasures for Him.
Alas, we are left with few chances to share,
To learn, and to taste of His grief.
Yet still for His sake His reproach we may bear—
Such times we can never retrieve.
Reviling and scorn shall we still here bemoan
When soon they no longer will be?
I treasure these temporal blessings I’ve known,
For thus, Lord, I’m made one with Thee,
For thus, Lord, I’m made one with Thee.
Verse 4 sums up two of the major thoughts that are especially seen in this hymn. Firstly, we can have the realization that we have ‘few chances’ to share in Christ’s sufferings now. There are many difficulties that come our way in life, and the trials and struggles that we have now seem to be so long or unending. But God intended them to be hard, even impossible for us, that He may manifest His all-sufficient grace to us and in us. So here is a place where we may shift our perspective: if I am to choose to follow Christ and suffer with Him that I may be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17), and if that may last for 70 or 80 years according to Moses (Psalms 90:10), then what is that compared to eternity? If you try to calculate the percentage, it wouldn’t even be 0.0001%! Our short life, however easy or hard, doesn’t even compare to eternity! ‘Alas, we are left with few chances to share’ in His sufferings!
Secondly, beyond mere comparisons of percentages, it is even these ‘temporal blessings’, that is, the suffering and chastisement allotted to us by God that allow us to partake of His holiness (Hebrews 12:10) and bring us further into union with Him. It is such a life of oneness that Christ desires to have with us, even as we are to abide in Him, and He in us (John 15:4), being joined together with Him in His death and resurrection (Romans 6:5).We have been crucified with Him and now it is Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20); it is precious to have these experiences of His cross strip us of our old man, our old nature, the old self-life, as these do not match Christ, so that we may have more of His life and thus become more one with Him. It is ‘our light affliction, which is for the moment, [that] works for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:17). Let us therefore treasure these temporal blessings, the priceless opportunities that we have now to follow Christ, that we may experience Him and gain Him more!
I long, Lord, to gaze on Thy wonderful face—
‘Tis better by far Thee to meet.
But now I would choose Thy dear suffering grace
And not miss such fellowship sweet.
Have mercy on me; fill me, Lord, with Thy love
To live for Thee here at all cost,
Lest earnestly seeking a heaven above
I then regret chances were lost,
I then regret chances were lost.
This hymn requires balance. Brother Nee was clear that it is ‘very far better’ to depart and be with Christ (Philippians 1:23). (Please see another priceless hymn by Nee that will be covered in a separate blog post, SHL #509 ‘Since Long Ago’ regarding our earnest desiring for the Lord to return.) It is true that it will be better in that Day and we can rightly look forward to it. However, do not let that earnest desire obstruct you from following Christ and gaining Him today! May we all be those that would choose His ‘dear suffering grace’ and enjoy that ‘sweet fellowship’ we can have with Him in His sufferings here, day by day.
Also please allow me to give you some unsolicited advice: while there is a purpose to the earthly trials we go through, don’t get weird about suffering and don’t go out of your way to inflict more suffering upon yourself. The Lord is much better than you at arranging your life and what you need to experience and gain Him; please allow Him to do it. Simply trust and follow the Lord. Hebrews talks about how chastisement at the time it occurs is grievous (12:11), so we don’t have to think that suffering is pleasant or prefer it, and we don’t have to pretend that we like it. But we can gladly follow the Lord and undergo those sufferings that He would arrange for us to see more of who He is.
The prayer at the end of this song is so fitting. Oh, how we need Your mercy, Lord! Lord, fill us with Your love! Lord, may we be those who follow You, no matter what the cost! May You help us to see all that You would arrange and ordain for us are opportunities to know You more and gain You more! Lord, save me from trying to wiggle out of Your sufferings to maintain my comfortable Christian life! Lord, give us all Your all-sufficient grace that Your power could be perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)! Lord, may we follow You and gain You more every day!
I greatly appreciated the words of ‘His Angels His Countenance always Behold’ and the commentary. My late husband and I read several of his books and always appreciated his ‘heavenly perspective’.