Psalms are like songs, for they are generally sung out loud, have a ritual element, and have a liturgical framework. Dave Barnes’ song, “God Gave Me You,” is a meaningful song to me. This song is like a psalm, more specifically a psalm of praise, because this song is about Dave Barnes’ praising a special person in his life who God has given to him. There is value to this song and the fact that he mentions God so frequently, demonstrates that he, himself, has a relationship with God. In this song, Dave writes about how God gave him someone in his life that sticks by him during thick and thin, through his ups and downs. “God gave me you for the ups and downs / God gave me you for the days of doubt / For when I think I’ve lost my way/ There are no words here left to say, it’s true / God gave me you.” These words are extremely moving and powerful. Dave Barnes’ sings about a person in his life who he has confidence in no matter what. This person helps Dave when he feels powerless are down, and makes him feel up and lifted. He sings about needing this person and “when I think I’ve lost my way / There are no words here left to say, it’s true / God gave me you.” In this song, Dave is talking about his wife. However, for the audience of this song, its’ listeners, they can interpret it however they wish. For me, this song is about God and love. God has given me such a great family, especially my parents, who have never turned their backs on me, but have always loved and supported me.
I connect with this song on a deep level and can feel the emotion Dave Barnes’ sing about when I listen to the song. Additionally, Barnes uses words like “divine,” “angel,” and “martyr.” He sings, “There’s more here than what we’re seeing / A divine conspiracy / That you, an angel, lovely / Could somehow fall for me / You’ll always be love’s great martyr / I’ll be the flattered fool / And I need you.” Someone who is “divine,” is someone who has godlike nature, related to God, or is connected with worship. A “martyr” is somebody who makes sacrifices, who is in pain, or someone put to death for their beliefs. These three words strike me every time I listen to this song, because they relate to God and the Bible. God is regarded as a Divine Being. An “angel,” is a heavenly being, a guardian or a guide (a messenger), a kind person. In Genesis, Chapter 18, Abraham, welcomed three angelic guests. As I read on, in Chapter 19, I noticed that two angels go to Sodom, where they are assumed to simply be a pair of human visitors. I have noticed that in the Bible, angels appear incomparable to human beings, because they are more noble, greater in knowledge, and stronger. In Psalm 103, angels are mentioned. “Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, obedient to his spoken word” (Psalms 103:20). The angels here are referred to as “mighty ones.” In the Bible, a lot of God’s people were put to death, persecuted. Martyrs from the Bible include Jesus Christ, Stephen, and John the Baptist.
In Walter Brueggemann’s Introduction reading for class, the line “to value fully any psalm” really struck me. He is right! Psalms, being like songs, should not just hold value in their beginning or end, but as a complete work. Brueggemann also writes, that they Psalms Psalms express both sides of the conversation of faith. He says, “they articulate the entire gamut of Israel’s speech to God, from profound praise to the utterance of unspeakable anger and doubt. On the other hand, as Luther understood so passionately, the Psalms are not only addressed to God. They are a voice of the gospel, God’s good word addressed to God’s faithful people.” Through Psalms, Brueggemann believes, that the community of faith hears and continues to hear the completely powerful speech of God. Dave Barnes’ song is a psalm of sorts. I would categorize “God Gave Me You” as a psalm of “new orientation”, because it is about how “Human life consists in turns of surprise when we are overwhelmed with the new gifts of God, when joy break through despair. When there has been only darkness, there is light.” Dave Barnes opens his song with the lyrics “I’ve been a walking heartache / I’ve made a mess of me / The person that I’ve been lately / Ain’t who I wanna be / But you stay here right beside me / Watch as the storm goes through / And I need you.” These lyrics echo what Brueggemann expresses about “new orientation.” When Barnes was in despair, his joy of having who God gave him, his wife, in his life, makes his troubles go away. He sings about needing this person because God gave this person, his wife, to him, as someone who makes him complete, a whole being. When he doubts, he always has this person to turn to. In the midst of a storm, this person is the light.
Dave Barnes’ “God Gave Me You” is, in my opinion, a contemporary psalm. It demonstrates a relationship to the Lord, as well as to his spouse. Barnes understands love and praises God repeatedly, for having this person in his life. He uses words that connect to faith and inspires his audience to love and not doubt God. This song is meaningful to me. Anyone can sympathize with Barnes, whose song illustrates many common themes experienced by many people at some point in a person’s life.