BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#730 - "Shepherd" by Amanda Cook
Bethel's Amanda Cook shares how this song from her solo album serves to capture God's faithfulness to her personally.
 



"How I love You, how I love You, You have not forsaken me. How I love You, how I love You, here is where I want to be," sings the gorgeous bridge of "Shepherd," led by Amanda Cook. It is one of the standout songs on her compelling collection of songs, Brave New World. You can hear Bethel Music's Amanda Cook's anointed, emotive and prophetic worship in Bethel's "I Will Exalt" from Be Lifted High, "You Make Me Brave" and "Shepherd" from You Make Me Brave and "You Don't Miss a Thing" from We Will Not Be Shaken.

Amanda's solo worship album Brave New World (which features "Heroes") is an excellent set of songs that focus on the central themes of asking God to inhabit our inner being and truly allow the power of the Holy Spirit to sanctify us. I really love how expressive these songs are. They were written from a place of reflecting on what it means to be free from fear and to trust in God's plans for our lives. The project is intended to lead listeners to that place also. 

The theme of trusting God completely weaves through all of the songs, a message that all believers need to hear. This album is best described as a worship experience with an ethereal tone, and it was one of my top 10 worship albums of 2015. I had the chance to speak with Amanda in person before Bethel's Worship Night in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania about "Shepherd."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

This song is precious to me. It's a psalm in my heart. It was written quickly. Songs find their way into our lives before we sit down to write them. As songwriters, we are called to be psalmists in some sense, to live them out and then write them down. 

This is a song of remembrance for me. I went to a writing room, and I hadn't written anything for a long time. I almost had a disdain for my instrument. Everything made me feel tired musically. I just wanted to listen to silence. I remember going to the writing room and laying on the floor with the lights off, and the Lord took me into an imaginative visual full-circle moment where I could see His faithfulness. It must have been minutes, but it felt like hours. I could see markers over my life where the dots were being connected. He was there the whole time in moments where I didn't feel like He was. I felt like how the house of Israel must have felt. We read in hindsight in the Bible and wonder how they could have forgotten the faithfulness of God. That's human nature. We need that daily reminder of His mercy, to see the sun rising every day to remind us of His mercy. 

For me, I needed to remember this. I wasn't writing a song. I was laying there frustrated at my inability to see His faithfulness in my instrument in the language of my heart, which is music. I remember the turn of phrase came to me about how He had not forsaken me, and it the whole song start to finish come out.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV): Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 John 4:18-19 (NKJV): "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us."

Psalm 23 (NKJV): "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

Psalm 121:1-2 (NKJV): "I will lift up my eyes to the hills--From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth."

Isaiah 51:6 (NKJV): "Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, The earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner; But My salvation will be forever, And My righteousness will not be abolished."

What is the takeaway message?

I was crying through singing this song. I knew I would forget God's faithfulness tomorrow and lose sight because we all do because we are so finite. But I wanted to remember it, and the way I remember things is through melodies, so that's how this song wove its way into my being. 

I wanted to write a song for me. There are songs that are timely and songs that we sing for a little while, and then we move on to the next fresh language. For me, I wanted to be able to sing this song 20, 30, 40 years from now, and forever I want this song to be a song of remembrance regardless of the season I'm in. 

I love the live version, and I also love the studio version. Paul Mabury programmed the sound of a book closing as one of the drum rhythms in the song. I love books, and for me it was like a book opening and closing and like a chapter opening and closing with this song. It feels fresh.

The album is pretty reflective and contemplative, but there are moments of explosion as well. There are little musical surprises. We took time to let this album breathe. We set out to make music that moved us and trusted that if it moved us, it would move someone else. I am hoping this album gives people the space and breathing room that it has given me.

Lyrics:
In the process
In the waiting
You're making melodies over me

And Your presence
Is the process
For I am a pilgrim on a journey

You will lift my head
Above the mighty waves
You are able to keep me from stumbling
And in my weakness
You are the strength that comes from within
Good Shepherd of my soul
Take my hand and lead me on

You make my footsteps
And my path secure
So walking on water is just the beginning

You cause my faith to arise
Stand at attention
For You are calling me to the greater things

You will lift my head
Above the mighty waves
You are able to keep me from stumbling
And in my weakness
You are the strength that comes from within
Good Shepherd of my soul
Take my hand and lead me on

How I love You
How I love You
You have not forsaken me
How I love You
How I love You
With You is where I want to be 

You will lift my head
Above the mighty waves
You are able to keep me from stumbling
And in my weakness
You are the strength that comes from within
Good Shepherd of my soul
Take my hand and lead me on


Amanda sings songs with an amazing passion, with unashamed praise and gratitude to our Savior that is very inspiring and emotionally moving. All of her songs are poignant and powerful with earnest, worshipful lyrics. "Shepherd" is an incredible song for the Church. Like her great songs "I Will Exalt" and "You Make Me Brave," you'll worship Jesus right along with Amanda. 

Amanda has consistently impressed me with her mature faith and sincere desire to serve Jesus. Being a Christian father of three young daughters, these songs all reflect the yearning for Jesus to make us brave that I pray for my daughters to feel in their hearts as well. The eternal Love of Jesus is beautifully expressed in these compelling songs that seep into your heart, soul and mind. This album takes me to a heavenly realm as I celebrate these truths along with Amanda. This is a wonderful song that really brings me into a state of personal worship alongside Amanda. I imagine this song is sung in the way King David sang his profound words of comfort in Psalm 23 to the Lord. David was a shepherd, and he knew that the Lord was his only guide and hope and the Good Shepherd of his soul. This song is all about submitting all of your worries, anxieties and stress to God and letting Him be your guide. God wants to walk beside you, and He wants us to be bold and unafraid.

This song is about submitting to the Lordship of Jesus over our lives and acknowledging that "You will lift my head, above the mighty waves, You are able to keep me from stumbling, and in my weakness, You are the strength that comes from within." The Lord tells us all throughout Scripture to lift up our eyes to Him, and this song celebrates that Truth. What a wonderful, loving and gracious God that we serve. I am so thankful to Jesus for saving me and showing us how to live. Remember and celebrate that "You make my footsteps and my path secure, so walking on water is just the beginning." Amen to that!

Watch Amanda sing the song below.
 


 

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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