By Kevin Shrum
Pastor, Inglewood Baptist Church, Nashville
According to GodTube.com, John H. Sammis was the writer of the Christian hymn Trust and Obey in 1887. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1846, Sammis died in 1919 in Los Angeles, Calif.
He was a businessman and a preacher for the Presbyterian church. He taught at Biola University.
The inspiration for this hymn began in 1886 when the composer of the music, Daniel B. Towner, was the music conductor during one of Dwight L. Moody’s revivals.
Towner’s explanation for the hymn can be found in the biography of Moody’s musical partner, Ira D. Sankey, entitled My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymns: “Mr. Moody was conducting a series of meetings in Brockton, Massachusetts, and I had the pleasure of singing for him there. One night a young man rose in a testimony meeting and said, ‘I am not quite sure — but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey.’ I just jotted that sentence down and sent it with a little story to the Rev. J. H. Sammis. He wrote the hymn, and the tune was born.”
This old hymn raises the question, “Whom or what do you trust?” This question is at the foundation of the Christian life.
Trusting Christ as Savior and Lord is essential to becoming a Christian. Obedience is grounded in trust. Daniel learned that trusting God in his trials was essential to obedience.
The trap set (Daniel 6:10-14). God’s favor on Daniel’s life caused King Darius’ advisors to jealously want to see him fail. They drew up a decree and convinced Darius to sign it, a decree stating that any person who called upon another god and not King Darius or his gods would be thrown to the beasts. They did this knowing about Daniel’s prayer life.
Unfazed by this decree, Daniel prayed openly and publicly (v. 10). In fact, nothing changed in Daniel’s spiritual disciplines.
Rather than compromise his convictions, he trusted God in prayer. Though Darius personally favored Daniel, he was bound by his word to execute the consequences of his ill-advised decree.
The door shut (vv. 15-18). And the consequences were swift and brutal. Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den. The door was shut and sealed with the King’s signet ring.
A glimmer of hope can be seen in Darius’s word in verse 16, “May your God, whom you continually serve, rescue you!” Daniel’s destiny seemed to be doomed. No wonder verse 17 states, “nothing in regard to Daniel could be changed.”
But I’m not sure who had the more miserable night, Daniel or King Darius. Verse 18 notes that Darius “spent the night fasting” and that “he could not sleep.”
Ironically, the King who made this ill-advised decree lost sleep, while Daniel appears to have rested well, safe in the arms of the Lord.
The tables turned (vv. 19-24). The next morning couldn’t come fast enough for Darius. When Darius learned that Daniel’s trust in God had been honored by God, Darius was glad (v. 23) and commanded that the men who set this trap be thrown into the lion’s den (v. 24).
This time the lions ate well. God calls us to a life of trust and obedience. These twin commitments will be tested. Nevertheless, let us trust and obey. B&R