I Know Whom
I Have Believed
Daniel W. Whittle, -1901
I know not why God's wondrous grace To me he hath made known, Nor why—unworthy—Christ in love Redeemed me for his own.
But "I know whom I have believed, And am persuaded that he is able To keep that which I've committed Unto him against that day."
I find two versions of the spiritual conversion of Daniel Whittle....
One conversion story claims Whittle found God during the Civil War. Captured and held in a Confederate prison, he started to read the New Testament his mother had handed him three years before when he had joined the Union army. (The other account details a pre-War rebirth in the womblike setting of a walk-in vault at a Chicago Wells Fargo Bank where he was employed.)
Major Whittle, as he came to be known after being decorated as a hero, didn't write "I Know Whom I Have Believed" until 1883, when he was a popular traveling evangelist. The song's five verses show some originality, but the repeating refrain is taken directly from the King James translation of 2 Timothy 1:12.
And that refrain makes me prefer the war-story conversion: a parent's faith and action having a direct impact on a son or daughter.
This preference is tied to the significance Whittle's song holds for one mother, named Dorotha. Her children are grown and parents, even grandparents, themselves. But, she says, "when they were teenagers and rebelling or coming home with problems, I would sing and sing 'I Know Whom I Have Believed,' especially one line.- 'and persuaded that he is able to keep that which I've committed unto him....' I had committed my children to him-—-as babies and then every day-—-and I chose to believe that he would 'keep' them."
That Scripture song steadied Dorotha's perspective, kept her faith focused on what God was able to do, as she continually committed her life and offspring to him. And God was faithful. She now boasts of her youngest great-grandchild, born to missionary parents.
You see why I like the story of Mother Whittle sending her son off to war, a prayer on her lips, a Bible in his pack, a legacy that would lead to his own salvation and to a confident testimony that would encourage other parents for generations.
Writing about Whittle's song has sent me to 2 Timothy 1, to read the context of the emphatic "I am persuaded that God is able to keep." The passage continues, in somewhat circular fashion urging readers themselves to "keep" (guard) "the good thing" (KJV) committed to them: "Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit."
The Scripture isn't talking about parents guarding children, but the parallel seems appropriate, and I challenge you to team up with God as you raise—and eventually release—the children entrusted to you: Commit your children to him. Be persuaded that he is able to keep them. In faith look to the Spirit for help as together you guard the younger generation— your faith being a shield to protect their journey to their eternal home.
Lord, increase my faith as I daily commit my children-—-young or grown—-to your keeping. Guide their steps. Guard their path. Draw them to yourself.
From the book "Spiritual Moments with the Great Hymns" by Evelyn Bence.
The Passover is all about knowing whom we have believed, and that He will indeed keep that which we have committed unto Him against that day of His return and our glorification.