In a manner similar to many of the Old Testament lament psalms, this text affirms God's saving power in the past; God's compassion and providential care for his people throughout history give us hope for the future. Thus the text becomes a marker or milestone on life's journey: "we've come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord" (1 Sam. 7:12, 'Thus far has the Lord helped us"). With confidence in the Lord's help we can go forward and face "burdens . . . misery and strife."
This song includes a plea and a prayer seeking God’s leading and care. Those who seek this leading can know that the Holy Spirit always aims to provide just such care for the believer. He not only renews our hearts, but also “leads us into truth, and helps us to pray, stands by us in our need, and makes our obedience fresh and vibrant” (Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 29).