Jireh is a powerful, prophetic song that’s been such a help to me while I’ve been recently unwell. Through it the Lord has spoken to my mind and moved my heart.
If you’ve not heard it, check out the Maverick City version below:
Jireh in Hebrew means ‘Provider’ – so the song is about God the Provider. It’s mainly about God the Father, and how knowing him helps us know ourselves. This changes everything, influencing how we perceive ourselves and how we live. This song Jireh could be criticised for what it doesn’t say. But no song is perfect. No song does everything. What Jireh does do is help us to worship in a way that helpfully speaks into issues in our culture today. That’s why it’s an important worship song for our day.
So here are 3 particular reasons why I like this song.
1. Human Fragility
First, behind the initial verse is a wise and astute understanding that so many people, both outside and inside of church, are feeling fragile. Western culture in general, and the Covid crisis in particular, have bred a context where many feel wobbly and unstable. Lots don’t know, or have forgotten, that they are loved by the God of love. So the first line begins by declaring the powerful truth that: ‘I’ll never be more loved than I am right now.’ It’s a proclamation about grace – God’s perfect love that is unconditional, undeserved and unending. The first verse is all about this grace, that flows from the Father’s throne (Eph. 3:16-19; I John 3:1).
The second verse homes in on the troubles of life. Many are ‘Going through a storm’ but the Lord is good and loving and present, and so I don’t have to fear for ‘I won’t go down’ (Is. 25:4-5). The verse ends with another strong statement of truth, sung back to God: ‘You’ve never been closer than You are right now.’ In a world where many are going through hardships – in health, family, finances or more – these words about the closeness of God (Acts 17:27) are helpful and healing.
Having recognised God’s presence, worshippers by the third verse are asking the Lord to ‘stay by my side when the sun goes down’ – ackowledging that the Lord will not leave us, even in the darkness of night (Ps. 4:8).
As the song develops, this ongoing realisation of the frailty of the human condition is not lost. I like that. It doesn’t assume that everything is going swimmingly well. Rather, life this side of eternity is often difficult and demanding, and we often feel weak and weary. I’ve been reminded of this in recent weeks as I’ve been struggling with severe pain. Welcome to being human!
2. God’s Sufficiency
Secondly, in the troubles of life, this song tells us more about this God of love. To those who are wondering: what is he like? Or: what kind of Father in heaven (Mt. 6:9) is he? – the answer is revealed early on in the song, in the chorus. He is: ‘Jireh, You are enough.’
He is ‘provider’. Interestingly, rather than describing what he does, the song declares who he is. He’s not described functionally (in terms of actions), but ontologically (in terms of being). So we don’t sing that he ‘gives more than enough’ – although that would be accurate (Phil 4:19). Instead we sing the deeper and more profound words, telling him: ‘You are enough.’ This idea of the sufficiency of God is repeated again and again in the song, and expressed in a number of ways, including singing the Pauline phrase ‘I will be content in every circumstance’ (Phil 4:11). All this is summarised in the simple stanza that’s echoed a number of times: ‘Forever enough. Always enough. More than enough.’ When I first heard those seven words they began to lodge in my mind and I found myself saying them, and singing them in my heart, over and over again. They’ve been like medicine to my medicated mind.
Structurally Jireh has three short verses and a chorus. But it’s written and sung in the style of a gospel song, so once the main part of the song has been sung, elements are then repeated and often embellished, with various other Scripture phrases added. So we go on to sing not only that we’re ‘loved’ (1 Jn. 4:9-10), but that we’re ‘chosen’ (Jn. 15:10). There are reflections on how God ‘dresses the lilies’ and ‘watches over every sparrow’ (Mt. 6:25-34), and how all this is ‘more than you can ask, think or imagine, according to his power working in us’ (Eph 3:20). All this development might seem to some either complex or haphazard, but in essence it comes from one basic and simple notion – expressed in the versus and chorus – that God is sufficient.
This gospel style, of taking a simple idea, or one bible verse, and then unpacking it and declaring it, has deep roots not just in the black gospel tradition but further back in church history, going as far as the Church Fathers. But this style was particularly used by the Puritans of the 16th and 17th centuries, who would preach, or even write treatises and whole books, based on just one Bible verse. Musically Jireh is doing something similar, reflecting on The All-Sufficient One.
3. Reshaping Identity
Thirdly, this song speaks powerfully into the identity which Christ gives to his followers. After having told God: ‘You are enough’ we then declare ‘So I am enough.’ Who we are becomes linked to whose we are. We are God’s chosen, beloved children. For ‘When I have you, I have everything. When I have Jesus, I have everything.’ And ‘That is enough.’
This truth is timely. In fact it’s a powerfully prophetic message, speaking deeply into society today, for so much of western culture tells us that we are not enough. We’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not intelligent enough, not rich enough, not … enough. Social media, adverts and much of contemporary communication screams that message to us, and the result is that many feel shamed. Brené Brown agrees, saying that shame ‘is the never good enough emotion. It can stalk us over time or wash over us in a second – either way, its power to make us feel we’re not worthy of connection, belonging, or even love is unmatched in the realm of emotion.’ Yet God, in Christ, offers us just this connection, belonging and love that we all seek! In a world where we can self-identify in a multiplicity of ways, this uncomplicated song urges people to find their primary identity in Jesus Christ. It does so through declaring truths about who God is and who we are. So this song prophesies into western shame-culture, inviting people to worship the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who, by the Holy Spirit, longs to give us a new start by reshaping our identity.
When I was unwell and relatively immobile – and in the world’s eyes rather inadequate – the truth of this song spoke deeply to my soul, reminding me who God is, and of who I am in Jesus Christ. Its bold and beautiful lyrics, aided by its lovely uncomplicated melodies, passionately sung by young and gifted worship leaders, was just what I needed to watch and join in with, as I worshipped the God of love.
So I commend the song Jireh. Of course it could say more about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But in the end it’s a simple song about the first person of the Trinity. God the Father. The Great Provider. It’s about the One who lavishes his loves on us, so we can share it with others. It’s about the All-Sufficient One who is ‘Forever enough. Always enough. More than enough.’ And that is enough.