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All That Is Fair: Equally Skilled


Jon Foreman is the lead singer for the band Switchfoot.  The members of the band are all Christians, but the band is not a ‘Christian’ band.  They thrive in the secular marketplace by means of conventional distribution channels.  I think this is a very good thing.  They are making music that the general culture cares about, and they still have stayed very true to their worldview.  If you haven’t listened to their music, you should.  It’s really catchy rock’n'roll with some nuanced content.

This particular song is from one of Foreman’s solo EPs.  His songwriting is fantastic.  He has a quirky way with words that feels familiar but not cliché.  Equally Skilled is nearly a direct adaptation of Micah chapter 7.  Foreman reimagines some of the language of this passage, as well as gives us messianic foreshadowing. If he ever gets tired of writing songs, he would definitely have a career as a translator.  He nails the spirit of Micah’s words.  Here are the lyrics to the song alongside the words from the prophet.

How miserable I am
I feel like a fruit-picker who arrived here after the harvest
There’s nothing here at all
There’s nothing at all here that could placate my hunger
The godly people are all gone
There’s not one honest soul left alive here on the planet
We’re all murderers and thieves
Setting traps here for even our brothers

And both of our hands
Are equally skilled at doing evil
Equally skilled at bribing the judges
Equally skilled at perverting justice
Both of our hands, Both of our hands

The day of justice comes
And is even now swiftly arriving
Don’t trust anyone at all
Not your best friend or even your wife
For the son hates the father
The daughter despises even her mother
Look, your enemies are right
Right in the room of your very household

And both of their hands
Are equally skilled at doing evil
Equally skilled at bribing the judges
Equally skilled at perverting justice
Both of their hands, Both of their hands

No, don’t gloat over me
For though I fall, though I fall, I will rise again
Though I sit here in darkness
The Lord, the Lord alone, he will be my light
I will be patient as the Lord
Punishes me for the wrongs I’ve done against Him
After that, He’ll take my case
Bringing me to light and to justice for all I have suffered

And both of His hands
Are equally skilled at ruining evil
Equally skilled at judging the judges
Equally skilled administering justice
Both of His hands, Both of His hands
Are equally skilled at showing me mercy
Equally skilled at loving the loveless
Equally skilled administering justice
Both of His hands, Both of His hands

______________________________________________________________________________________

1 Woe is me! For I have become
  as when the summer fruit has been gathered,
  as when the grapes have been gleaned:
there is no cluster to eat,
  no first-ripe fig that my soul desires.
2 The godly has perished from the earth,
  and there is no one upright among mankind;
they all lie in wait for blood,
  and each hunts the other with a net.
3 Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well;
  the prince and the judge ask for a bribe,
and the great man utters the evil desire of his soul;
  thus they weave it together.
4 The best of them is like a brier,
  the most upright of them a thorn hedge.
The day of your watchmen, of your punishment, has come;
  now their confusion is at hand.
5 Put no trust in a neighbor;
  have no confidence in a friend;
guard the doors of your mouth
  from her who lies in your arms;
6 for the son treats the father with contempt,
  the daughter rises up against her mother,
the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
  a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.
7 But as for me, I will look to the Lord;
  I will wait for the God of my salvation;
  my God will hear me.
8 Rejoice not over me, O my enemy;
  when I fall, I shall rise;
when I sit in darkness,
  the Lord will be a light to me.
9 I will bear the indignation of the Lord
  because I have sinned against him,
until he pleads my cause
  and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light;
  I shall look upon his vindication.
10 Then my enemy will see,
  and shame will cover her who said to me,
  “Where is the Lord your God?”
My eyes will look upon her;
  now she will be trampled down
  like the mire of the streets…

18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
  and passing over transgression
  for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
  because he delights in steadfast love.
19 He will again have compassion on us;
  he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
  into the depths of the sea.
20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob
  and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
  from the days of old.