DiM | “I Just Need U” by TobyMac

Presentation1CCM Radio Edition.

May 04, 2018. Today we’ll be taking a look at “I Just Need U” by TobyMac which currently sits at #1 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

This is probably one of the better TobyMac songs I’ve reviewed. I found the writing to be quite honest and well-intentioned. The Psalms he drew from weren’t being stretched out of context and the song doesn’t make false promises. This song finds itself on the positive side of the middle ground. It falls short of a full Approval because it lacked a clear Gospel, but at least it bore a confession of needing God. Let’s listen to the song and read the lyrics.

Video

Lyrics (via K-Love)

I Just Need U
I just need U.

Last night put the heavy on me
Woke up, and I’m feeling lonely
This world gotta a way of showin’ me
Some days it’ll lift you up
Some days it’ll call your bluff
Man, most of my days I ain’t got enough

And all I know is You’re my only hope

When I’m up, when I’m down
When the wolves come around
When my feet hit the ground
I just need, I just need U
On my darkest days, when I’m losing faith
No, it ain’t gonna change
I just need, I just need U
Lord, I need U
Yeah, I just need U

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil for thou art with me
Thy rod and thy staff …
They comfort me when I’m beat down broken
Hold my heart when it’s split wide-open
Turn these eyes to my sole protector
And break the will of this born defector

When You pull me closer I come to life

Ain’t no way this thing gon’ change, it’s U
I need on my darkest days, when I’m losing faith
I need U every single day, every breath I take
I need U

Publising: Achtober Songs (BMI) (Admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / So Essential Tunes / RELWOF (SESAC) (Admin. at EssentialMusicPublishing.com) / Blake NeeSmith Publishing Designee (BMI)
Writer(s): Toby McKeehan, Bryan Fowler, and Blake NeeSmith

Discussion

Overall, the song isn’t bad. The Premise of the song is a little bit wonky, as it seems to be a song about Toby dealing with popularity and the highs and lows of it all.

Verse 1. The first verse frames the discussion oddly.

Last night put the heavy on me
Woke up, and I’m feeling lonely
This world gotta a way of showin’ me
Some days it’ll lift you up
Some days it’ll call your bluff
Man, most of my days I ain’t got enough

The focus is on how he can’t live up to the world’s expectations but stops short of calling the world evil. We’re not seeing the problem of sin being set up here, just sort of a cry of not “being enough” or not “having enough”. The problem is in the underlying theology. This follows the notion that being a Christian means having access to power once we’ve reached the end of ourselves. We turn to God when we need a life raft as if we didn’t need Him long before we were aware of our need.

Chorus. Now, the chorus does include “when I’m up”, so one might argue that this clears the song of what I just pointed out as a problem. However, the emphasis on the first verse and the rest of the song is on being down.

When I’m up, when I’m down
When the wolves come around
When my feet hit the ground
I just need, I just need U
On my darkest days, when I’m losing faith
No, it ain’t gonna change
I just need, I just need U
Lord, I need U
Yeah, I just need U

For the most part, this is a good confession of an enduring need for God. Odd that it goes from the thought of “losing faith” to “it ain’t gonna change”… how is the artist attempting to resolve the thought of losing faith? I don’t think TobyMac knows quite what to do with that. I think that’s why TobyMac memes and most of his lyrics amount to “dedicate yourself harder”, “do more”, “love more”, “strive/endure/persevere”, etc.

Romans 10:11-17 (ESV) For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Galatians 3:2-9 (ESV) Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

I bring these passage up because they are critical to understanding Law and Gospel properly distinguished. In each letter, Paul is teaching these Churches (predominantly Gentiles) the proper distinction between Law and Gospel. Faith is a Gift from God working through His Word. Both saving faith and growing in faith, which is why I brought in the passage in Galatians. Too many treat the gift of faith as something necessary to “get saved” but then rely on works to grow to maturity. Paul rebukes that thoroughly. So, my point in bringing this here is that I genuinely believe TobyMac is looking for an answer to building faith in spite of trouble, and he keeps looking to the Law. I’m not calling him unsaved when I say the problem is that TobyMac needs to hear the Gospel preached to him and for him, today and every day of this life until Christ returns.

Verse 2. Toby pulls lines from Psalm 23. It’s a wonderful Psalm.

Psalm 23 (ESV) | A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3     He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 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.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

The promise in Psalm 23 has an eternal focus. We are so tempted to invoke this Psalm for our temporal well being and comfort, but remember the Apostles and the 1st-century saints.

Bridge. It’s really just a mantra, nothing of substance.

Conclusion

This song is an honest appeal to faith during the struggle, a confession of our need for God. The closest we get to identifying which God is by quoting pieces of Psalm 23. I find it frustrating that Jesus has to be assumed in so-called “Christian” songs, though. I’ll not apologize for that frustration. The song does a good job of being honest about our internal struggle with doubt, I just wish it did a better job of resolving that doubt. I do believe that even here, we should see an acknowledgment that our primary issue is sin and the only resolution is Christ crucified for our sin.

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

2 thoughts on “DiM | “I Just Need U” by TobyMac

  1. Haven’t read the post yet, but your intro has the wrong song! Looks like you copy and pasted from your last post 😛

    May 04, 2018. Today we’ll be taking a look at “All My Hope” by Crowder which currently sits at #1 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

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