The Journey



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Song performed by Paul Wilbur
Composer: Steve Merkel

I had a great and interesting conversation about this song and whether the words and concepts are biblical, which is always a great question to ask. I decided to look up a biblical basis for the concepts in each line. I didn't have to. I just thought it would be interesting to put together. I began from the position of thinking it is biblical - if it turns out that I cannot explain each line from a biblical perspective, then this would become one of those songs I don't sing, like "Reckless Love" (God is not at all in any way "reckless"! He made an intentional, conscious and reasoned decison to pursue you in love and win you to His Kingdom. But that's another study....)

First, here are the words to the whole song:

Spirit of the Sovereign Lord
Come and make your presence known
Reveal the glory of the risen Lord

Let the weight of your glory cover us
Let the life of your river flow
Let the truth of your kingdom reign in us
Let the weight of your glory.....
Let the weight of your glory fall

We do not seek your hand
We only seek your face
We want to know you
We want to see you
Reveal your presence in this place

Composer: Steve Merkel

"Spirit of the Sovereign Lord"

From the intro to the NIV translation of the Bible:
"In regard to the divine name, YHWH, commonly referred to as the Tetragrammaton, the translators adopted the device used in most English versions of rendering that name as "LORD" in capital letters, to distinguish it from Adonai, another Hebrew word rendered Lord, for which small letters are used.
Wherever the two names stand together in the Old Testament as a compund name of God, they are rendered, "Sovereign Lord."

Reference where "The spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me" occurs:
Isaiah 61:
1The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, a
2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

In Luke Luke 4 Jesus reads from the passage, although it is rendered slightly differently:
18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

This passage also applies to Christians today!

SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD. The term “sovereignty” connotes a situation in which a person, from his innate dignity, exercises supreme power, with no areas of his province outside his jurisdiction. A “sovereign” is one who enjoys full autonomy, allowing no rival immunities

"Come and make your presence known"

The question arises, "How can God make His presence known, when He is already everywhere?"
Some examples from the Bible that come to mind:
In the transfiguration.
At the Baptism of Jesus.
At Pentecost.
In the garden in the cool of the day
At the dedication of the Temple in 2 Chronicles 5.
In encounters with Jacob. (Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”)

Personally, I don't always feel really close to God. The sense of His presence fluctuates according to a variety of things: How distracted I am by something else. Mood. Sin. But reading the Bible and praying I feel closer and feel that He is closer to me. When I am worshiping, I feel his presence and his favour.
"Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you" (James 4:8)

From Crossway (Excellent article on the Presence of God)
"There is a difference between saying 'God is everywhere,' and saying 'God is here.' The former is the default category for most Christians. We talk about God’s presence being inescapable and that he is “everywhere present” (Ps 139:5-12; 1 Kings 8:27).
But it seems Scripture is more concerned with his presence manifest in relationship and redemption. And though these divine realities are certainly not at odds, the biblical story does turn on God’s being manifest with his people in Eden, the tabernacle/temple, the incarnation of Christ, and the new heaven and new earth.

"Reveal the glory of the risen Lord"

Here is, perhaps, the best example of the presence of the glory of God, often referred to by the extra-biblical term, "Shekinah" or "Shekinah Glory". ("Trinity" is also an extra-biblical term):
2 Chronicles 5:13 The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:
“He is good; his love endures forever.”
Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.

When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” – 2 Chronicles 7:1-3

It is interesting to me how the manifestation of the glory of God is connected with a. The Temple/Dwelling place of God on earth in the OT (and a picture of the believer/Ekklesia in the NT) and b. With worship.

"Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels." – Exodus 40:34-38

A note on the word, "Shekinah" from

The etymology of “Shekinah” is from the Hebrew word shākan, which means“to reside or permanently stay.”
The rabbis used the term Shekinah to describe the following to the Jewish people:
- The presence of God amongst His people ( Exodus 19:16-18; Exodus 40:34-38; I Kings 6:13)
- The glory of God dwelling in the Temple (2 Chronicles 7:1)
- How God dwells in the mountain (Psalm 68.16-18; Joel 3:17)

How is Shekinah Glory portrayed in the Bible?
The divine presence of God on earth is depicted through the following list:
- As a cloud (Exodus 24:16-18; Exodus 33:9; 1 Kings 8:10-13)
- As a pillar of smoke and fire (Exodus 13:21-22)
- As fire and a burning bush (Zechariah 2:5; Exodus 3:2)

"Let the weight of your glory cover us"

As above, God's glory might knock you off your feet, or feel like a weight. Also, I think about being hidden in God. For example, "He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91).
Men are instructed not to pray with their heads covered, because God is their covering, according to the New Testament. So the concept of being 'covered' is not foreign to scripture. It is spiritually literal.
In 2 Corinthians 7:14 there is an indication of the reality of the glory of God feeling like a weight: "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory...."
On a personal note, I have experienced this sense of the weight of His presence to the point where I was not able to stand. The glory of God may not, or is not usually, visible, but it is experiential.

"Let the life of your river flow"

Psalm 46:
1God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

John 7:38 - Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

Revelation 22:1 - Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb

According to Ephesians (5:18) we are to be continually being filled with the Spirit of God (the Greek is a present continuous form). God in us, or God with us, is not a stagnant pool, but a life-giving flowing river. We can ask for it, and expect this dynamic in our lives to varying degrees.

"Let the truth of your kingdom reign in us"

You will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free. (John 8)
Your Word is truth.  (John 17)
Increasingly, as we are disciples, we learn and know the truth of God's Kingdom, which is often contrary to the ways of the world. We pray, "Let Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." This is the reality for which we press in and press on with God. That we would be transformed in our thinking and our living. That we would be conformed to the Law of the Spirit and the ways of God.

"Let the weight of your glory fall"

The question came up (Oh! So questions start down low!?), "Is heaven up?"
Well, I've actually heard it taught as a doctrine once. Heaven is up, and also, "Heaven is North." And more lately, "Heaven is a galaxy" Weird! In my opinion that is. I'm open to hearing someone convince me but I doubt you will. I agree with the passage in the article at Crossway, which says, for example, "God’s transcendence distinguishes him from the created order...."
The Bible tells us that "God is Spirit (John chapter 4).  I cannot imagine that "heaven" is a physical location which human beings could, conceivably, fly to in a space ship. The entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven is a spiritual door, which is only open to the redeemed of the Lord. (That can be you, by the way, if you are a seeker. Why not open the door to the Lord right now? Invite Him in to your life and live for Him. You will not regret it!)

From the 2 Chronicles 7 passage, above: "fire came down from heaven...."
So heaven is "up" then?
Well, I think this is often just a way of saying something. In the 2 Chronicles example, I'm sure the fire actually came in a downward direction. Also in the book of Acts, when the Spirit came on the believers. Tongues of fire descended and rested on each one....
We say in Canada, "Down East, for example, and "Up North". North is not up. "Up" is a measurement from sea level, and much of "up north" is lower than our own elevation. In England they would say, when its local travel, "over" or "down" if it is downhill literally from where we are, or "up" if it is literally a higher place we are going to. If I live up the road, you can't come down to my place.....
We sing all kinds of things that are not literal. "Come and let us go to the mountain of the Lord...." I'm not going to Israel every Sunday, to find the Mount of Olives!

"We do not seek your hand, we only seek your face."

On seeking God's face:
Psalm 27:
7Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.
8My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
9Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior.

Psalm 24:
5They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior.
6Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.

The concept, to me, is similar to when Solomon was given the opportunity to ask for anything he wanted from God. He asked for wisdom, and God was impressed, because he did not ask for riches or possessions. God was impressed and promised He would additionally get those material things in abundance:
2 Chronicles 1:11God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”

In the New Testament, Matthew 6 has the same kind of approach:
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

In the context of the song, seeking His hand would mean seeking God to get something from Him. It means, "we're not looking for you to give us something for ourselves."
I had trouble thinking of a verse where God tells us to seek His hand..... Anybody? Oh.... there is the parable of the unrighteous judge, (keep on knocking..... and asking......) but that seems to be more about persistence in prayer than asking God for what you want for yourself.
"Make your requests known to God", maybe. But these verses, even if they do mean seek His hand, don't cancel out the sentiment of the line in the song.

"We want to know you" "We want to see you"

Similar concepts, as far as pursuing God goes. We may say that we know God. But when we pursue Him there is always more to know. Now we see through a glass darkly. Now we know in part but one day we will know in full, even as we are fully known. If we think we have God weighed up and contained within our own understanding, He is not a very big God!

We press on to grow in the knowledge of God. The more we know him, the more we are like him. The more we know him, the more we realize our need. The more we know him, the more our thoughts are aligned with his thoughts. The more we see him, the better we are able to do the things we see the Father doing. This is God's will for us, to seek his face.
There's a great song by Don Potter, "Show me your face, Lord" Here:

Or here:

Reveal Your presence in this place....


This has been a fun exercise for me. I hope that turning the song into a Bible study is thought provoking and helpful. There could be more said, of course, but this is enough for now!
If you read this far, you're amazing! And if you didn't, well.......


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