ways of wisdom, rest and peace;
to You, O Shepherd, your sheep bow,
embraced by Love, all striving cease.
Abraham obeyed Your call;
and suffered loss, made You his aim,
in leaving Ur he gave up all.
Faithful leader of his flock,
Abram's God then promised him
the Canaan-land where idols mock
The One True God on Zion's rim.
Pilgrim father of his race,
Abram journeyed to the land
and waited for the Son of Grace
and children numbered as the sand.
God's own promises seem slow,
Abram forgot how to rest;
Begetting Ishmael laid faith low,
he could not wait, his time seemed best.
Right on time old Sarah birthed
Isaac, "Laughter," was his name;
Faithfulness had proved its worth,
for fruitful turned a womb long lame.
Miracle of her old age,
Isaac clung to Sarah's breast;
the works of man are bars and cage
compared to Isaac's calm and rest!
Later, God called once again:
"Abram, offer up your son!"
His faith was tested beyond men,
and yet his stood where there was none.
Before he could take Isaac's life,
the Angel of the Lord called out:
"You love Me first, let down your knife,
Your faith has conquered every doubt."
Mount Moriah was the ground
Abram built his altar on;
And one day there a Lamb was crowned
With bloody thorns 'til life was gone.
Abram took a ram instead,
Thicket-snared, fast by the horn;
and blessing God, he struck it dead
and burnt it with a joy reborn.
Isaac never pled for life,
like our Lord a lamb he went;
in him was no taint of strife,
his peace of soul could not be rent.
Later, when his mother died,
Abram's son mourned full three years;
and waited calmly for a bride
(that God had chosen) beyond peers.
Walking in the even-tide,
Isaac, crowned with heaven's dew,
looked up and saw the darkness hide
'midst greater light than he e'er knew.
Dripping glory on the earth,
Heaven's lamps blazed forth full bright;
It seemed he saw an awesome birth,
his sons like stars outshone the light.
Worship, praise, rose in his heart,
Isaac heard a welcome sound;
though loath to let the glory part,
his bands of mourning came unbound.
Homeward rode good Elihu,
Isaac's bride had come at last!
Though forty years were not too few,
he had no wish to change his past.
Padan-Aram's lady saw
out upon the wilderness
a man was walking in the jaw
of serpents writhing in his path!
"Holy Man of God is this!"
He shone a star 'midst common men.
"Master Isaac, your blest lord,"
Abram's loyal servant said;
and kneeling down her camel roared,
the lady veiled her bowing head.
Isaac knew a noble rest,
God was everything to him;
to trust his God for him was best;
beside the Lord all else turned dim.
Enoch walked that way in peace,
separate from worldly men;
outside the camp he found release
and freedom from transgression's den.
Perished in the wilderness:
thousands who spurned Moses' rod;
and deadly proved their waywardness,
they would not rest in Isaac's God.
Moving 'midst the Philistine,
Isaac stayed when famine neared;
It's like the babe of age to wean,
when faith must face the worst that's feared.
Prospered in the stranger's land,
lsaac sowed in desert soil;
a hundred-fold he reaped in sand,
but weed of envy rose--a boil.
Blessed of the Most High God,
Isaac sat like Gerar's king;
a multitude bowed to his rod,
and sheltered safe beneath his wing.
King Abimelech rose up,
Isaac grew too great for him;
His glory sunk, his court so dim,
his jealousy foamed o'er his cup.
"Isaac, leave my country now!
Blest of God, you torment me;
You'll take my throne, and I will bow,
but that, I pledge, will never be!"
Trusting God for life anew,
Isaac moved back toward the east;
the wells he dug were Abram's too;
up sprang water for a east.
Enmity sprang up as well:
Philistines came from Gerar;
Contention rose more oft than fell,
and Isaac moved again, and far.
Weary, yet he trusted God;
faith and hope still swelled up strong;
He dug again in rock-hard sod
and found a spring both wide and long.
Later, at Beer-sheba came
Gerar's king to God's Isaac;
"Pledge friendship with me, Man of Fame,
and hang my love around your neck."
Twenty years since Isaac wed,
Isaac's wife knew barrenness;
and Promises lay all but dead
when Isaac prayed for God to bless.
Isaac's God then answered them,
war not peace conceived in her;
and two not one would clutch his hem,
a Jacob smooth, Esau a burr.
Weal, woe, created God,
Darkness, light, created He;
Isaac's eye next felt his rod,
struck, he could but dimly see.
God of Isaac bent his hand,
blinded to a scheming son;
granting Jacob Promised Land:
last made first*, God's will was done.
[*Jacob was born second
after Esau his twin brother
who sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of pottage]
Fatness, leanness, never turned
Isaac from his rest in God;
a trusting lamb in God's sheepfold,
he leaned on his dear Shepherd's rod.