BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#790 - "Chain Breaker" by Zach Williams
Zach Williams takes us behind one of the most powerful songs of the past year.
 


BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS, #790 -
Posted: January 24, 2017 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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Husband, father, singer, songwriter, worship leader and campus director at his home church in Arkansas, Zach Williams is the newest artist with Provident Label Group's Essential Records. Williams is also nominated for a We Love Award for best new artist. Listeners have been blessed and encouraged by his lead single "Chain Breaker," a song holding the reminder that "we've all run to things we know just ain't right, and there's a better life."

The better life found in Jesus is what this song and his debut full-length album Chain Breaker is all about. I love the exhortation in the title track: "if you believe it, if you receive it, if you can feel it, somebody testify." With those words in mind, I had the chance to speak with Zach about "Chain Breaker."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

My wife and I were involved in a church that we helped launch because of our personal testimonies of what we had gone through in our lives. About the same time that we were launching that church campus, my wife was invited to go to a women's prison ministry visit. She came back from that trip on fire, and she told me that the next time that opportunity came up, she needed to sign me up to go. I was still wondering if that was something that I was interested in, and she and a pastor at the church signed me up for one of those trips. 

At that same time, I was starting to write my first Christian music about four years ago. I was getting in the groove of writing songs and wanted God to give me the words to use for my music, and my wife said this was the perfect opportunity for me to go down and sing these new songs for these women in prison. I brought a friend who played guitar, and my wife and I shared our testimonies, and twenty or more women got down on their hands and knees and got saved that night at the prison. I had to close my eyes in the middle of it because I was so floored, and tears were streaming from my eyes. The presence of God was so real at that moment in the room. If I had any doubt about what I should be doing with my life, God reassured me that leaving my former band and doing this was what God wanted. I came home from that prison trip and was choked up if I tried to talk about it. My wife and I went on several more prison trips.

For me, that story was a big part of my personal testimony as I went to write this song with Mia Fields and Jonathan Smith. As we were sharing with each other, the next thing I knew Mia said we should write a song called "Chain Breaker." I laughed and said, "That's been done already, hasn't it?" She said no, we needed to write this song. We went on writing this song about Jesus, packing in as many positives and truths about who Jesus is and what He has done as possible.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Acts 16:25-30 (VOICE): Picture this: It's midnight. In the darkness of their cell, Paul and Silas--after surviving the severe beating--aren't moaning and groaning; they are praying and singing hymns to God. The prisoners in adjoining cells are wide awake, listening to them pray and sing. Suddenly the ground begins to shake, and the prison foundations begin to crack. You can hear the sound of jangling chains and the squeak of cell doors opening. Every prisoner realizes that his chains have come unfastened. The jailer wakes up and runs into the jail. His heart sinks as he sees the doors have all swung open. He is sure his prisoners have escaped, and he knows this will mean death for him, so he pulls out his sword to commit suicide. At that moment, Paul sees what is happening and shouts out at the top of his lungs, Paul: Wait, man! Don't harm yourself! We're all here! None of us has escaped. The jailer sends his assistants to get some torches and rushes into the cell of Paul and Silas. He falls on his knees before them, trembling. Then he brings them outside. Jailer: Gentlemen, please tell me, what must I do to be liberated?

Isaiah 58:6-9 (MSG): "This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I'm interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'

Titus 2:14 (VOICE): "He gave His body for our sakes and will not only break us free from the chains of wickedness, but He will also prepare a community uncorrupted by the world that He would call His own--people who are passionate about doing the right thing."

Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV): "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV): "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

What is the takeaway message?

In Acts 16:25 Paul and Silas are in the prison and begin singing hymns. Other prisoners were listening to them, and there was an earthquake and the prison was shaken. That's where the "prison-shaking Savior" line of the song comes from. God is that powerful. He hears our prayers. When two or more are gathered together in His name, He is with us. 

I thought about myself as well, and feeling helpless and hopeless in my life. At times I've felt like Daniel in the lion's den. He had to have felt helpless, but God was there with him and protected him from being eaten by the lions and brought him out of that, just like He's done with me. He can do that for anybody. There's a better life if we just turn to Him. 

A lot of the lyrics are about what has God done, in looking at Scripture and what God has done in countless lives over the years. God puts us in uncomfortable positions sometimes, but He always equips us with the tools we need. He is with us. Since coming to Christ and sharing my story, I've been in uncomfortable situations. It's not about our comfort but about saying to God "Here I am, send me." God will speak for you sometimes when you allow Him to use you as a vessel. That's what He wants for all of us.

Lyrics:
If you've been walking the same old road for miles and miles
If you've been hearing the same old voice tell the same old lies
If you're trying to fill the same old holes inside
There's a better life
There's a better life 

If you've got pain
He's a pain taker
If you feel lost
He's a way maker
If you need freedom or saving
He's a prison-shaking Savior
If you've got chains
He's a chain breaker

We've all searched for the light of day in the dead of night
We've all found ourselves worn out from the same old fight
We've all run to things we know just ain't right
And there's a better life
There's a better life

If you've got pain
He's a pain taker
If you feel lost
He's a way maker
If you need freedom or saving
He's a prison-shaking Savior
If you've got chains
He's a chain breaker

If you believe it
If you receive it
If you can feel it
Somebody testify

If you believe it
If you receive it
If you can feel it
Somebody testify, testify

If you believe it
If you receive it
If you can feel it
Somebody testify

If you've got pain
He's a pain taker
If you feel lost
He's a way maker
If you need freedom or saving
He's a prison-shaking Savior
If you've got chains
He's a chain breaker

If you need freedom or saving
He's a prison-shaking Savior
If you've got chains
He's a chain breaker


I love how the music of this song matches the excitement being expressed lyrically. One of my favorite things about "singing a new song to the Lord" is that the idea of worship in Heaven is an exciting picture for me, and that's the glimpse that we gain from this high-energy song. This song is an example of being obedient to that calling to make God the object of all of our worship.

The Lord calls us to have joy in Him regardless of our circumstances, which this song celebrates. Our true joy comes from our relationship with Jesus. This song helps set my mind on Christ, and to let the distractions of the day melt away and instead focus on worshiping the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Regardless of our circumstances, we need to truly be free in Christ and be happy and filled with joy, like Paul and Silas in prison. We should all strive for true freedom in Christ. God is worthy of all of our trust.

Being a Christian isn't just keeping Jesus to ourselves; it's also about keeping our "eyes fixed on the prize" to finish the race that God has set out for each of us in our walks. Look at injustice in the world through God's eyes and you can't help but be moved to act like Paul and Silas. Whether it is a prison ministry or any other way that you can be looking out for the "least of these," these are the words that all believers can sing out: "If you need freedom or saving, He's a prison-shaking Savior, if you've got chains, He's a chain breaker." Amen to that!

Watch the music video 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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