Story Behind The Song: Twenty Three
In Psalm 10:12 there’s a frustrated prayer that says “Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.” A bit later the psalmist continues with “But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” I can’t help but think of our brothers and sisters on the border, locked up; first victims of slander and accusation by our political leaders, then victims of prejudice by a fearful and largely unwilling public, and finally, victimized in body and spirit by family separation, constant changes in policy, and an overburdened system. I can’t help but pray that prayer, “You, God, are the helper of the fatherless and motherless. You consider their grief, you see the trouble of the afflicted.”
I originally wrote this song on small breaks from working at a camp in Ireland where kids who had grown up in broken family settings would come and learn about God as a loving Father. I had been praying through Psalm 23 and seeing that the kids, in their helplessness, would receive comfort and guidance from this loving god and be led to sustaining waters and pastures; that they would be the recipients of goodness and mercy which are God’s first inclination for his children; that they would be seen in their affliction and lifted out.
There’s a mantra in the latter part of the song that says “no I will not be in want,” and it often feels ironic to pray because it is uttered primarily when there is an immense need in our lives. But we say it because simultaneously, we know there is a foundation of supply, whether physical or spiritual, that exists when we are walking with God, when he has lifted his eyes and we feel seen in the midst of every wondrous thing he’s made.
I’ve sung this song on tour throughout the United States and in many countries, in prisons and in universities, in conservative and liberal denominational churches, in wild charismatic communities, in sun-drenched fields and on wind-swept rock. I’ve sung this song on behalf of trafficked persons and other marginalized people. I’ve sung it in extremely personal times of connecting with God. I’ve sung it as an exercise of faithfulness on ordinary Sunday mornings. And these words have never felt worn out. The act of admitting helplessness and then singing the promises of God has been a constant access point to remembering his faithfulness.