Good Songwriting Gets Dangerous

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(This post is mostly a review of the song “Who Would Have Dreamed” from the new Sovereign Grace Music album. Click the image above to find more information about this great album.)

One thing that I’ve heard Andy Naselli say in class before is that one test of biblical faithfulness is that our arguments raise the same questions and objections as the original authors. For example, you know that you are being faithful to the text when you present God’s lavish grace in such a way that someone might respond to you, “What then? Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound?” (Rom 6:1). Or we should present God’s sovereignty in such a way that the natural response sounds like, “Is there injustice with God?” (Rom 9:14).

To put it conversely, sometimes we try to smooth out what the Bible gave to us as jagged.  Not everything in Scripture is meant to be easy to swallow. Some truths are better left as God gave them to us, and some things are meant to shock us.

So when it comes to Christian songwriting, a certain amount of shock factor might actually be exactly right. Perhaps some of us have been bored into a kind of pseudo-Christianity that doesn’t retain the thrill and the wonder of the staggering realities of God’s greatness.  I am grateful for songs that jolt my heart with a defibrillator for the soul. Granted, electric shocks are a dangerous thing, and some people will be upset with you for disrupting their slumber, even their deathly tranquility.

For example, when I first heard Jason Hansen and Bob Kauflin’s new song Who Would Have Dreamed, my first reaction was violent towards the line “Who would have dreamed. . . that we could hold God in our hands.”  My God-centered gut was sucker punched by such . . . by such . . . blasphemy! Or so I thought . . .

We can’t hold God in our hands! Solomon laughed at the thought that even the glorious temple could contain God of the highest heavens (2 Chron 6:18). God holds us in his hands, not the other way around!

Except, that reaction is exactly the point of Christmas. God should never be so small in our minds as to fit in our hands, true. But what would it mean if he did? What would it mean if ‘the Sovereign of all’ became ‘helpless and small’?

What if my incredulity pointed me directly to the inconceivable wonder of the incarnation?

How else can you explain Luke 2:8-14? When Jesus emptied himself of his divine prerogatives by taking on flesh, the heavenly courts cannot contain their enthusiasm. What we celebrate at Christmas is so wonderful that armies of angels freak out.

So, yeah. “We could hold God in our hands” is a ridiculous thing to say. And even more ridiculous that it happened. But the foolishness of God beats the wisdom of man every time.

So I’m glad that Jason and Bob wrote a song that helps my heart soar. And it does so by not trying to tidy up the edges of stunning biblical realities. And by letting the truth hit me “gloves off,” I am provoked to deeper worship than with antiseptic cliches.

It should make you uncomfortable to think that we could hold God in our hands. But that discomfort should inspire loud singing: “Glory to God in the highest.” Who would have dreamed?

Who Would Have Dreamed

VERSE 1
On a starlit hillside, shepherds watched their sheep
Slowly, David’s city drifted off to sleep
But to this little town of no great renown
The Lord had a promise to keep

VERSE 2
Prophets had foretold it, a mighty King would come
Long awaited Ruler, God’s Anointed One
But the Sovereign of all looked helpless and small
As God gave the world His own Son

CHORUS
And who would have dreamed or ever foreseen
That we could hold God in our hands?
The Giver of Life is born in the night
Revealing God’s glorious plan
To save the world

VERSE 3
Wondrous gift of heaven: the Father sends the Son
Planned from time eternal, moved by holy love
He will carry our curse and death He’ll reverse
So we can be daughters and sons

Words and music by Jason Hansen and Bob Kauflin
© 2014 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

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