This song is that of one who ascending toward the much desired place of rest and worship, looks back and sees how in the past Jehovah has delivered from sore perils. The backward look would seem to be inspired by consciousness of present peril, for immediately the song expresses desire for the judgment of Jehovah against those who are described as hating Zion.
On the way to the city and temple those who hate the pilgrims of faith plot and scheme for their overthrow, and it is in the consciousness of this that the song celebrates past deliverances and seeks a continuance of them. While there is evidently a sense of danger in the mind of the singer, there is an utter absence of despair. It is the true attitude of those who have a rich experience of the faithfulness of God. In times of peril it is a good thing for the pilgrim to strengthen the heart by looking back and remembering past deliverances. Such an exercise will invariably create a present confidence.
“His love in time past forbids me to think He’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink; Each sweet Ebenezer I have in review Confirms His good pleasure to help me quite through.”
the Third Week after Epiphany