BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#384 - "Whom Shall I Fear (God Of Angel Armies)" by Chris Tomlin
Praising God in the dark times of fear served as the inspiration to this first single from Tomlin's Burning Lights project.
 


The new album from Grammy Award winning worship leader Chris Tomlin, titled Burning Lights, released on January 8, 2013 and features guest appearances from Kari Jobe, Christy Nockels, Phil Wickham and Lecrae.
 
Burning Lights also features several co-writes with former Delirious lead singer, Martin Smith, including "God's Great Dance Floor," the title track of the ex-Delirious man's recent solo EP series. Other tracks the two songwriters worked on together include "Shepherd Boy" and "Awake My Soul."
 
The twelve track album also includes "Crown Him (Majesty)" with Kari Jobe, "Jesus, Son of God" with Christy Nockels and "Thank You God For Saving Me" with Phil Wickham.
 
Burning Lights is the follow up to Chris' 2010 studio album, And If Our God Is for Us... which won him his first ever Grammy Award in the category of Best Contemporary Christian Music Album. Chris started recording the album back in April, working with award winning producer and songwriter Jason Ingram. Chris also leads worship at Passion City Church in Atlanta, led by communicator and pastor, Louie Giglio. As the songwriter behind the worship favorites "How Great is Our God," "Jesus Messiah," "Holy is the Lord" and "Forever," Chris continues to write songs that connect people to the heart of Jesus and lead them to a greater worship of Him. 
 
I had the great opportunity to interview Chris about his current single "Whom Shall I Fear." 
 
Please tell me the songwriting process and message behind the song "Whom Shall I Fear."
 
This is a special song, and comes from a real place. It comes from a true place and a place a lot of people come from. The song speaks an honesty that people relate to. It started with Ed Cash, and anyone who knows my music knows that Ed has been part of my songs for over a decade. He's a huge part of what I've done, and how my music sounds. We've been writing songs together for a while. We co-wrote this song together and I had this thought that I hadn't written with Ed recently and I wanted to get together with him. I had this urging and nudging to meet up with Ed. It turns out that it was the Holy Spirit nudging me.

I was visiting Nashville, and sent Ed a message that I wanted to meet up. Ed responded that in the middle of the night he had this special song he was working on and thought of me. God put us together and I couldn't get there fast enough. Ed told me his wife wakes him up in the middle of the night struggling with anxiety and fear and attacks when she's wrestling in the night and can't sleep. Those thoughts and fears come in the night and grip her. She asked him to pray for her, and not long after that he started writing this song as a praise to God during the night.

There's something powerful about praying to God and praising Him during the night. When things are coming against you, prayer is the answer. Ed said he didn't even know where the words came from, but he started praying the lyrics to the song: "I know Who goes before me / I know Who stands behind / The God of angel armies / Is always on my side / The One who reigns forever / He is a Friend of mine." He played me that chorus, and I knew this song was exactly what I wanted to sing. 
 
Did you base the song on any Bible verses?

2 Kings 6:15-18:
And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, and said, "Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, "Strike this people, I pray, with blindness." And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.
 
How can listeners apply that message in their walks as Christians when they listen to the song?
 
This message is exactly what the Church needs. Our story is not a story of fear, it is a story of faith. Everywhere you turn it is fear. Fear of the economy collapsing. Fear involving relationships. Fear of cancer and sickness. Fear of divorce. Fear, anxiety and depression holds us back like we are in chains. It seems like more and more that the world is getting crazier. Fear affects old and young people.

Fear is no respecter of age, socio-economic status, or anything. It is a condition of the heart. I just think it is good to have this Truth in our hearts. Whom shall I fear? In the midst of crisis or anything that comes against, it is powerful to know Who stands behind and goes before us. The God of Angel Armies is always by our side.

The Scripture really came to life for me after we wrote the song. I may have read that Bible passage from 2nd Kings before, but my eyes weren't really open to the story. When Elisha is told about the army camped outside the city, and sees the fear in his servant's eyes, he tells him, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Then he prays for the Lord to open the eyes of his servant. Then he saw the angel armies all around their enemies.

That just really struck me. For myself, for the Church, we need to be praying that same prayer for God to open our eyes. Most of the time our eyes are focused on what's in front of us. If we could see the spiritual realm, our enemy wouldn't cause us fear. Those who are with us are far more than those who are against us.
 
Lyrics:
You hear me when I call
You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night
It cannot hide the light

Whom shall I fear

You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my Sword and Shield
Though trouble lingers still

Whom shall I fear

I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always on my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a Friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

My strength is in Your name
For You alone can save
You will deliver me
Yours is the victory

Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear

And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in Your hands
I'm holding onto Your promises
You are faithful
You are faithful
You are faithful

I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always on my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a Friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The God of angel armies is always by my side
 
"Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)" is chock full of the Truth that as Christians, we need to have full reliance on God to deal with the struggles of life. The song perfectly expresses that dependence: "I'm holding on to Your promises, You are faithful…I know Who goes before me, I know Who stands behind, The God of Angel armies, is always on my side, The One Who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine." All of these lyrics point to the wonders of our God combined with sweeping melodies and infectious choruses that will be replayed in your mind over and over again. You can experience the majestic nature of God in the music of Chris Tomlin. This song brilliantly sets the tone for this exceptional worship album, sure to be one of the best of the year. I am very moved by this song. I find myself raising my hands in worship and then I'm compelled to reach out horizontally to help show others the love of Jesus.
 
Remember that if God is for us, who can be against us? We raise our hands to celebrate and in surrender. We can lift up our hands in confidence to God and know that His mercy is unfailing. His love is never-ending. He is our refuge and our strength. God's ultimate will is not to bring affliction upon people, but to restore us so that we may experience His unfailing love. 
 
I love the singing this song back to Jesus and telling Him plainly that I need no other than Him. What a great testimony and way to start off a new year. Make a commitment to know Jesus. My new year's resolution is to live out the faith decree of this song, "The One who reigns forever / He is a Friend of mine / The God of angel armies / Is always by my side." Happy New Year!
 
(Here's the lyric video.)

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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