Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).
March 17, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Shoulders” by for KING & COUNTRY which currently sits at #13 at 20theCountdownMagazine.
We’ll continue using this top 20 song list until I find a better list. Your feedback in this would be greatly appreciated.
I’m pleased to present today’s song for a couple of reasons. First, and foremost, it’s a lyrically sound song. Secondly, the band for KING & COUNTRY has been reviewed a couple of times here in their collaboration with Lecrae and it hasn’t gone well. I’m happy to see a popular artist put out a good song that makes it onto the top 20 chart.
Lyrics (via KLOVE)
Shoulders by for KING & COUNTRY
When confusion’s my companion
And despair holds me for ransom
I will feel no fear
I know that You are near
When I’m caught deep in the valley
With chaos for my company
I’ll find my comfort here
‘Cause I know that You are near
My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
You mend what once was shattered
And You turn my tears to laughter
Your forgiveness is my fortress
Oh Your mercy is relentless
My help is from You
Don’t have to see it to believe it
My help is from you
Don’t have to see it, ‘cause I know, ‘cause I know it’s true
Writer(s): Luke Smallbone / Joel Smallbone / Ben Glover / Tedd Tjornhom
The reading at the start of the video above is from a bad paraphrase (parody, really) of Psalm 121. Seriously, everyone should just burn their copy of “the Message” parody of the Bible. Nevertheless, the Psalm is a great Psalm and should be read properly from a solid translation. We’ll look at it from the ESV.
Psalm 121 (ESV) | My Help Comes from the Lord
A Song of Ascents.
121 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
Starting with Psalm 121, the MSG version misinterprets verses 1-2. This Psalm is included as a song of Ascents (Psalm 120 through 134), and the MSG calls this one a pilgrim’s song. The Pilgrim isn’t considering whether or not the mountain (or the hills) is the source of his strength, he’s looking to the hills as his destination and asking from where will he get help to reach God’s Holy Hill. He knows and confesses the answer in the second verse, “my help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth”. The pronoun switches from “I” to “you” for the rest of the Psalm, where the teacher/priest/pastor speaks words of encouragement to the Pilgrim and praise to the Lord. It’s a great place to start when composing a song
Verse 1. The first verse could very well be a reflection of Psalm 121. It might also borrow from Psalm 23:4 (ESV), “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me”. I think the reference to “company” here is that of a military eschelon just under Battallion. If so, let’s take a look at Psalm 27.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
9 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
Such a wonderful Psalm.
Chorus. I know we often point out major shortfalls in popular songs; however, I firmly believe that most of these major shortfalls only need slight corrections to the lyrics to convey Truths revealed in Scripture. The chorus begins with the confession that our help comes from the Lord (as we see in the Psalms). I love the imagery of the Lord carrying our weakness, sickness, and brokenness on His shoulders. The image of our Savior on the cross comes to mind.
1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Amen. This reference to Christ on the cross is coded in pronoun, so this song is aimed at the Believer rather than the unbeliever. But the song is consistent, the pronouns don’t flip-flop, it’s a solid reference to the Lord God as the source of our help, our rescue, our Salvation. My favorite line in the Chorus is the declaration of faith, “I don’t have to see to believe…” Amen. I don’t want to beat up on Thomas, but I’m reminded of Jesus’ Words to him in John 20:29 (ESV) “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Verse 2. This verse is one of restoration as a result of the help of the Lord. The mending of the broken, the laughter from tears. Let’s look to another of the Song of Ascents, Psalm 126.
Psalm 126 (ESV) | Restore Our Fortunes, O Lord
A Song of Ascents.
1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
For those of us who are partakers in the New Covenant, our fortress isn’t earthly in Zion; rather, it is in the assurance of the forgiveness that can only be found in Christ. So my favorite references in this song are the references to forgiveness and to faith in God’s Salvation. I am encouraged by this song, both in its production and in its popularity. I pray the rest of the songs on this album are as faithful to SCripture. I would still like to see repentance addressed in a more meaningful way, but I think this song is a vast improvement over many on the top-20.
Even if the song on its own didn’t take you to these passages, it is my hope that from this day forward, these passages will be brought to mind each time you hear this song played on the radio. Be blessed and encouraged by the Truth, that our Hope is in Christ Jesus… His finished work on the cross, and His immanent and assured return for His Church.
In Christ Jesus,