DiM | “King of My Heart” by Kutless

disapproveCCM / COWO Edition.

February 23, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “King of My Heart” by Kutless which currently sits at #20 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

This week’s song seems to be an attempt at an evangelical “worship” song. It’s a love song of sorts aimed at wooing ourselves toward God in some respects and affirming the goodness of God. Well, we have to assume it’s aimed at God. Let’s listen to the song and then read through the lyric.

Video

Lyric (via KSBJ)

Let the King of my heart
Be the mountain where I run
The fountain I drink from
Oh He is my Song

Let the King of my heart
Be the shadow where I hide
The ransom for my life
Oh He is my Song

You are good, good, oh

Let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh He is my Song

Let the King of my heart
The fire inside my veins
The echo of my days
Oh He is my Song

You are good, good, oh

You’re never gonna let me down
When the night is holding on to me
You are holding on

Discussion

Okay, so let’s begin with the title phrase of this song, “King of my heart”. If you’ve been reading these DiM for a while, you’ll likely anticipate that I have a couple of concerns with this phrase. Firstly, are we aiming at perfection here or are we confessing what is? If we are confessing the condition of our hearts, then we must confess that our hearts are sinful, and that Christ isn’t the King of our hearts at all times. This is part of the paradox of the Christian life, where by faith we are saints yet by the flesh we are sinners. In our flesh we break the greatest commandment daily.

Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV) “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

The verses of this song begin with the word “let”, so I’m thinking the writer’s intent is to sing this as an encouragement of the Law without asserting that our hearts no longer break the Greatest commandment. That would be a foolish assertion. Our hearts are wicked. The best way to consider the line in a Biblical light would be to consider the closing verse in Psalm 19, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Ps19:14 ESV)” This one verse speaks with far more clarity than what we’ll see in today’s song, but in the interest of giving the song its best construction, I think this is the form the writers where shooting for in the verses of the song.

The referent of the song has to be assumed by the listener. The “King of my heart” has to be assumed to be God, though He isn’t really described as such in Scripture. Christ is not clearly proclaimed in this song. This depiction of God as the “King of my heart” I think comes more from Finneyism than Scripture, the idea that “if we ask Jesus into our hearts and place Him on the Throne of our hearts” then we’ll be saved. I think I remember this illustrated by Bill Bright’s “4 spiritual Laws” pamphlets that get passed around in CRU (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ) in the picture of the “Christ-directed life” (ref). The confusion of Law and Gospel comes to the foreground when we talk about “making Christ the King on the throne of our hearts”. The Law of God says that this is Holy and Righteous, that Christ is our LORD and Savior. Christ is LORD regardless of how we feel about it, and even despite our wicked hearts. So, when the proclamation of “Christ as King of our Hearts” is presented as Gospel, we run into cognitive dissonance… we know that Scripture commands us to Love the LORD our God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds, yet that Law convicts us of our sin, the fact that we do not Love the LORD as we ought. When this Law is presented as a Gospel charge (do this and you’ll be saved) what Gospel can we turn to in order to save us from falling short of the Gospel that is being presented? That’s the problem with works-based righteousness… even when the works being cited are indeed biblical good works. The Gospel isn’t “make Jesus King of your heart”, nor is it “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind”… the Gospel is:

Romans 5:6-11 (ESV) For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

I do believe the writer(s) of this song are aiming at modeling Psalm 19:14, an encouragement to good works through faith in Christ Jesus; however, the lack of clarity in the message and some infusion of extra-biblical phrasing leaves the song too open for interpretation for my taste. It falls to the hearer to keep the overall meaning of this song Biblically sound. We see this a lot in CCM. I pray the industry gets back to clarity in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s work through the stanzas of the song briefly.

Verse 1. Getting beyond the “King of my heart” phrase, we still have a problem of looking inwardly for God. It’s a problem of mysticism. If we are trying to make this a call to the Law of God (encouraging our hearts to Love God) then this verse presents unclear advise. What if I acknowledge that my heart is sinning and seeking its own pleasure/desire rather than the Law of God? This verse doesn’t have an answer for that. Where am I looking for shelter? The mountain. What mountain? Well, the King of my heart. How do I run there? Mystically or metaphorically. The right answer is to look for Christ where He has promised to be found, not in our own emotions but in the Written Word of God, the gathering of the Saints around the Preached Word of God. How do we drink from the fountain of the King of our Hearts? Mystically. Also remember that in the world of “contemporary worship (COWO)” the emotional high of singing these trance like songs repeatedly as the band swells and the lights pulse is connected to such mystical themes of “running to God” or “drinking from the fountain of God”. We see it in the closing line “He is my song”. Granted, if you work hard enough with word-searches in various English translations/paraphrases one can draw connections to proof texts for each independent phrase of the song. That’s not how sound doctrine is to be conveyed, though. It’s not how we read emails or letters, either. This verse, and those that follow it, are aimed at conveying an emotional metaphor for drawing close to God, for loving Him.

Chorus. Well, there’s not really much of a chorus, is there? God is good. That is True. In fact, He is the Only One who is Good. The Goodness of God isn’t something we, sinners, understand intuitively. We need to be taught about His Goodness from Scriptures.

Verse 2. We see the same basic form from the first verse. Let Him be King of my heart, be my shelter, be my salvation, be my song. While these things are good things, the way they are being presented isn’t instructive in any way. This is purely emotive and subjective. Mysticism is dangerous.

Verse 3. I don’t like the line ‘wind inside my sails’. The image is wrong. God isn’t merely the wind pushing your boat, He IS the boat, He IS the ARK. If we’re going to wax eloquent with the imagery, think of Noah and his family inside the Ark during the global flood. There’s too much room for taking credit for things in your life, there’s a sense of synergism that so prevails in evangelicalism where God is presented as a divine being who wants to give us all sorts of great things IF we just align ourselves correctly with Him… like learning how to adjust the sails to the wind. See that mysticism? Yeah, that’s bad theology.

Verse 4. ‘Fire inside my veins’ is almost always a reference to Jeremiah 20. New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) types love this turn of phrase. Those who claim to prophesy or excuse their outbursts as moves of the spirit. In its best form, it can be an artistic reference to emotional zeal. The mystical form of this song, however, leads me to think this is a hat tip to Word of Faith (WoF) types or those in the NAR (whether they realize it or not) because that’s the stuff that makes the most money (Hillsong, Bethel, etc).

Bridge. While it is true that God will never fail us and His promises are True, I’m not comfortable with the phrase “God will never let me down”. The reason is because of how this brand of popular evangelicalism treats prayer, as though they can simply decree and declare whatever they want “in Jesus’ Name” and expect God to perform what they want. Doubly frustrating is that if the people who pushed that sort of nonsense were honest, they’d have to confess that their decree/declare prayers don’t get answered, and they aren’t prayers. God is not a genie who has to grant your wishes because you invoked the right promises like some sort of spell casting. There is also no call to repentance or acknowledgement of the LAW as law anywhere in this song. I mean, we aren’t even confessing that we fail Him. So this bridge bothers me a great deal.

Conclusion

I’m torn a bit on where to assign this song’s final disposition as either on the far end of “listen with discernment” or a soft “disapprove”. I think what is prevailing here is that this song is performed in such a way that it is intended to be used in COWO, and I find the mysticism particularly troubling. Therefore, this song will be filed under “disapprove”. I’m sure there will be several who disagree with that overall assessment, though that is not the point of these DiM posts. The point is to get into the practice of evaluating the lyrics of these songs we hear on the radio, to see if they square with Scripture. This song is borderline, which is unacceptable for corporate worship.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

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