Wednesday, 4 February 2009


We were singing Chris Tomlin's Indescribable yesterday in morning prayers. Mostly a very good song. But I have a problem with the first line of the second verse:

"Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go?"

We were discussing the song afterwards, and someone pointed out that they weren't entirely comfortable with some of the lyrics. Being in a very bad mood, I blurted out my thoughts in not quite the way I meant:
"I know! - What idiot wrote that line?"
only to be told by my Principal (complete with waving Bible)
"That idiot was Job", causing much laughter.

OK, so I accept it was funny, but I was trying to make a serious point. Of all the wonderful descriptions of God in Job, why pick that one bit of imagrey which is so fundamentally unhelpful in our culture? It just confirms the "behave yourself or God's going to zap you with a lightening bolt from his finger" image, like He's some mean twin of the God of the Lotto, who points his finger to announce "It could be you!" winning the millions.

Is it just me? I've thought a bit about trying to find an alternative line that works - any suggestions?


  1. Actually, when we looked up the verse after you left, we found that the image was rather of God 'sending forth' the lightening than telling it where to strike (Job 38:35), but the line as written in the song can certainly be interpreted in a far from helpful fashion.
    No help on the alternative lyrics though. . .

  2. Thanks Robyn, that's good to know. So it's bad theology on the part of the songwriter. That makes me feel a bit more justified (and less 'unbiblical') for wanting to re-write the line.

    Now what rhymes with snow...?

  3. Just reading through some old posts, and thought I'd update.

    For quite a while now, I've been singing "Who CAN tell every...". We know that God can do anything, but that doesn't mean he does do it. Works for me!