“I will cause showers to come down in their season; there will be showers of blessing.” – Ezekiel 34:26
I grew up singing the hymn “There Shall Be Showers of Blessing!” but I never knew its history or the biblical basis for its powerful message.
This short post will give you the biblical and historical background for the hymn.
After reading this post, I promise you will never sing the hymn again without thinking of its backstory.
Recently, through preparation for our study of Ezekiel at Istoria Ministries, I came across Ezekiel 34:26, and it led me to a beautiful understanding of the depths of meaning of “There Shall Be Showers of Blessing!”
If you are going through a difficult time, not feeling God’s love, and not seeing God’s goodness, read this post and be encouraged about the “showers of blessings” God sends to His people in days of darkness.
THE HYMN HAS BEAUTIFUL WORDS
There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.
Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy-drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.
There shall be showers of blessing:
Oh, that today they might fall,
Now as to God we’re confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call!
THE BIBLICAL BACKGROUND IS EZEKIEL 34:26
Ezekiel is a prophet of God living in Babylon as an exile. In 586 BC, the LORD used Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, to bring judgment on the Jews. The Babylonians destroyed the Temple of YHWH in Jerusalem, turned the city to ash, and enslaved the Jewish people in the Babylonian Exile.
The LORD spoke to His people in their captivity through His prophet Ezekiel. The words given to the Jews from the LORD in Ezekiel 34:26 are uttered by the prophet in 585 BC, a year after the destruction of the Jewish capital and the Jews’ captivity.
The LORD says through Ezekiel that there will be “showers of blessing” for His people. That’s right, in the darkest days for the people of God, the LORD gives them their brightest hope.
That’s the way it is in the Kingdom of God.
A person’s darkest times are typically the season to experience God’s showers of blessing.
DANIEL WEBSTER WHITTLE, THE HYMN’S AUTHOR
Major Daniel Webster Whittle (b. 1840 – d. 1901) wrote the hymn “There Shall be Showers of Blessing!”
Born November 22, 1840, in Massachusetts, Daniel moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1857 as a teenager.
Daniel grew up in a Christian home, but he cared nothing for the things of God.
At the tender age of 21, Daniel became a Union soldier as the Civil War of the United States broke out.
In Daniel Webster Whittle’s autobiographical book Twice Born Men, Daniel relates how he came to faith in Jesus Christ.
The showers of God’s blessing came to Daniel Webster Whittle in his darkest hour.
When the Civil War broke out, I left my home in New England and came to Virginia as lieutenant of a company in a Massachusetts regiment. My dear mother was a devout Christian, and parted from me with many a tear, and followed me with many a prayer. She had placed a New Testament in a pocket of the haversack that she arranged for me.
We had many engagements, and I saw many sad sights, and in one of the battles I was knocked out, and that night my arm was amputated above the elbow. As I grew better, having a desire for something to read, I felt in my haversack, which I had been allowed to keep, and found the little [New] Testament my mother had placed there.
I read right through the book – Matthew, Mark, Luke, to Revelation. Every part was interesting to me; and I found to my surprise that I could understand it in a way that I never had before. When I had finished Revelation, I began at Matthew, and read it through again. And so, for days I continued reading, and with continued interest; and still with no thought of becoming a Christian, I saw clearly from what I read the way of salvation through Christ.
While laying [sic] in the hospital, a young man begged a nurse to pray for him, but she refused. He then begged Daniel who said “I can’t pray. I never prayed in my life. I am just as wicked as you are.”
The young man begged Daniel to pray for him. He felt God speaking to him, so he knelt at the boy’s bedside confessing first his sins and then praying for the young man.
“I dropped on my knees and held the boy’s hand in mine. In a few broken words I confessed my sins and asked Christ to forgive me. I believed right there that He did forgive me. I then prayed earnestly for the boy
He became quiet and pressed my hand as I prayed and pleaded God’s promises.
When I arose from my knees, he was dead.
A look of peace had come over his troubled face, and I cannot but believe that God who used him to bring me to the Savior, used me to lead him to trust Christ’s precious blood and find pardon. I hope to meet him in heaven.”
DANIEL WEBSTER WHITTLE and D.L. MOODY
Daniel Whittle re-entered the Civil War after his medical recovery as an amputee soldier. Toward the end of the Civil War, Daniel was granted the rank of Major. For the rest of his life, until he died in 1901, Daniel was known as “Major Daniel Webster Whittle.”
Following the war, Daniel went to work for the Elgin Watch Company.
Whittle began writing Christian hymns, never forgetting that the blessings of God came to him in his darkest hour. He wrote “There Shall Be Showers of Blessing” after reading Ezekiel 34:26 in his daily devotional and would later write the great hymn, “I Know Whom I Have Believed.”
Daniel Whittle became with the famous evangelist D.L. Moody and eventually joined the Moody Evangelistic Association as an associate evangelist and hymn writer.
Whittle’s daughter, May Whittle, married D.L. Moody’s son, William Moody.
D.L. Moody would laud Whittle’s hymn writing by saying, “I think Major Whittle has written some of the best hymns of the century.”
Major Daniel Webster Whittle died on March 4, 1901.
I never sing “There Shall Be Showers of Blessing!” or “I Know Whom I Have Believed’ without picturing Major Daniel Webster Whittle kneeling beside the bed of a dying Union soldier, praying for God’s mercy.