Peace Like A River

“Peace Like A River” is a likable song for both young and old, easy to learn and sing. The lyrics are simple, but not trivial. Please enjoy this video, then come right back and we’ll unpack some of the delightful depth carried by this bright tune.

What is peace?

Peace can be defined as absence
absence of war
absence of personal conflict
absence of oppressive thoughts or emotions.

Some might even say peace is
absence of awareness,
to be zoned out through chemicals
or sleep
or some other means —
to be disengaged from what’s going on.

In the Bible, peace means something different. Instead of absence, biblical peace is the presence of something else. Bible peace means wholeness or completeness.

Over 230 times the word “peace” appears in the Old Testament. It is the Hebrew word “shalom” and is used in several ways, including as a “state of wholeness, completeness or soundness”. It can mean “to restore what has been taken”.

In the New Testament, “peace” is the Greek word eirene, meaning “rest, peace and quietness”. Its root is “eiro”, which means to “tie together into a whole”. Peace appears over 90 times in the New Testament, at least once in almost every book.

So, Bible peace deals with the rest that results from wholeness.

Comparing peace with a river

We can think of many ways to compare “river” with “peace” and “wholeness”. An established river is ever-flowing, faithfully maintaining its course. It supports life and beauty both in its waters and along its banks. (We notice Numbers 22 uses the expression “like gardens beside a river”.) It is a medium whereby people and heavy loads can travel far. Its energy powers machines to grind flour for bread and generate electricity for lights. As we watch the waters pass by, the glistening motion inspires creative thought. It reliably completes and accomplishes much to make life abundant and whole for all that live near it.

In Isaiah 48 and 66 we read: “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river…” and (speaking of Jerusalem) “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river…”

God cries, “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!”
When WE pay attention to God’s commandments by accepting Jesus as Lord, believing God raised him from the dead — when we get saved, literally “made whole” — we step squarely into the place where we can have God’s “peace like a river” as spoken by Isaiah.

What a beautiful image to depict the wholeness salvation brings. What a wonderful thing to sing about.

Joy like a fountain

Galatians 5 lists fruit of the spirit – nine “varieties”. Peace and joy are among them. Biblical definitions tell us “joy” is different from “happiness”, even though the way people show joy and happiness may appear similar. I’ll offer this brief description of the difference:

Happiness results from fleeting delights received by one or more of our five senses during our short lives in this temporary world.
Joy results when, while walking by the spirit, we are treated to glimpses of enduring realities related to the everlasting life Jesus Christ won for us.

Happiness comes and goes because its source is fickle and fragile.
Joy can remain because its source never ends — God’s goodness never runs dry.

Happiness is not evil — but it is no match for joy. Not even close.

How is joy like a fountain? A fountain may be contrasted with a cistern.

Jeremiah 2 says: “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

When God calls out TWO evils, we sit up and take notice. Look at these two evils:

  1. Forsake God, the fountain of living waters
  2. Instead, dig out a water hole that can only hold a limited amount of water. Worse yet, the cistern has a crack in the bottom or side so when you need water, there is none. Just an empty hole man makes to try to supply what he needs for life, while rejecting God’s endless supply of what he REALLY needs for life.

    That’s evil.

Who would do such a dumb thing? Here, sad to say, God says, “My people.”


God is a living fountain, a never-ending supply of everything we must have for life. When we accept the life Jesus Christ won for us, and THINK ABOUT IT, we end up with JOY LIKE A FOUNTAIN. We have an endless supply with an infinite God and a Savior who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Peace like a river.
Joy like a fountain.
How could we do anything other than to have love for our Savior in our souls?

First love

Regardless of how excellent our knowledge of doctrine becomes,
regardless of how important our church responsibilities become,
regardless of how diligently we work,
regardless of how steadfastly we persevere and endure pressure unto the end for His name’s sake,

… let us never forget our FIRST LOVE.

Let’s remember how dearly and simply we loved the Lord when we first got to know Him.
Let’s remember how exuberant and thankful we felt when we first knew His deliverance.
Let’s remember how happily we shared His goodness with everyone we talked to.
Let’s remember to touch others with the love of Jesus who rescued us.
Let’s not become strident “defenders of the faith” who end up arguing often. Let’s lead with the love and compassion that teaches us to win and not to alienate those who might not see things exactly like we do, but who are not dedicated to being enemies with God.
People need our love, not our scorching.

As much as possible, let’s bring peace, hope, help — and love.

Let’s not forget the sweetness, tenderness and joy of our FIRST LOVE,
who loved us FIRST
and saved us!
First things first!

Dear Ones:
With peace like a river and joy like a fountain, what could possibly result?

♪♫ Love for my savior in my soul ♪♫

Of course!

God bless you lots,
Dale Reichel

Download this music sheet

LYRICS: Peace Like A River

1. I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.

2. I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul.
I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul.

3. I’ve got love for my Savior,
I’ve got love for my Savior,
I’ve got love for my Savior in my soul.
I’ve got love for my Savior,
I’ve got love for my Savior,
I’ve got love for my Savior in my soul.

4. I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got love for my savior in my soul.
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got love for my savior in my soul.

What do you think?

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4 Replies to “Peace Like A River”

  1. Julia Witchard


    1. Dale Reichel Post author

      Thanks, Julia. I’m so thankful God opened the doors for you to minister to people, and you are so faithful to minister! God bless you lots! – D ?

  2. Mark Winterer

    Dale Reichel,
    Every time you get my attention I feel proud of you…
    God Bless you for what you
    do through Jesus Christ.
    What a wonderful way to share your heart with God’s Word. Thank you so much! ? Mark ?

    1. Dale Reichel Post author

      Mark, THANK YOU for your kind words. I’m so thankful we are both still around to share happy thoughts. God bless you lots. -D ?


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