Rector's Reflections - 15 May

Rector’s Reflections  

Wednesday 15th May 2024

Come, Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire

In yesterday’s reflections, I shared some reflections based on the opening lines of the traditional hymn, “Come , Holy Ghost, our Souls Inspire”. This hymn begins by asking the Holy Spirit to give us the gifts of inspiration and enlightenment. It then goes on to refer to the Spirit’s “sevenfold gifts”. What are these “sevenfold gifts”?

Let me begin by giving the background to the phrase. It refers to a well-known passage in Chapter 11 of the book of the prophet Isaiah. In this passage,  Isaiah records a vision of a future king, who will be a descendant of David. This king will be the perfect ruler and his reign will bring rich blessing upon the people of Israel. Isaiah does not say when this will happen – but he is certain that it will come to be, in God’s good time. Christians have traditionally interpreted Iasiah’s vision as being fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ:  the kingship of Jesus is a perfect kingship, and his rule brings rich blessing upon the people of Israel. The reference to the “sevenfold gifts” of the Spirit comes in verse 2, but it is helpful to give the whole passage by way of context :

“A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse [Jesse was the father of King David], and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear;

By with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.

They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

In Isaiah’s vision, the “spirit of the Lord” rests upon the promised King, and this Spirit gives the King all that he needs to be a perfect ruler:  “wisdom and understanding”, “counsel and might”, “knowledge and the fear of the Lord”.  But what do these words mean? What might they mean in our own lives? We shall look at these questions  in tomorrow’s reflections.


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