Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping (I Get Knocked Down)” came on the radio and I started thinking about the Apostle Paul. Doesn’t everyone?
And now I have a number of questions for you to consider:
- Which of the karaoke singers most resembles me?
- Do you know what the woman means by “pissing the night away”?*
- Where are Paul’s writings in the song’s lyrics?
Getting Back Up
A constant refrain in the song is:
I get knocked down
But I get up again
You’re never gonna keep me down
Tubthumping issues a call of defiance, an insistence to rise up rather than remain defeated. We’d all like to think we can do that no matter what, but we can’t. Any one of us can be beaten down so badly that we cannot rise again. Disease, war, poverty, even the mere passage of years – everything eventually leads to death.
Contrary to Chumbawamba’s refrain, people can be knocked down never to get up again.
Yet Paul wrote:
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9.)
Paul’s encouragement is not defiance in the face of reality, nor is it a call to reject the reality of oppression and disease and death.
Rather, Paul explains that his ability to rise again does not depend on his own will, nor on his own strength.
Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4: 16-18.)
John, a fellow apostle, explained it this way:
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4.)
We get knocked down and get back up again because we belong to God, the one who is greater than anything that happens to us in this world.
Songs that Remind Us of the Good Times
The other thing Chumbawamba reminds us to do is sing:
He sings the songs that remind him of the good times
He sings the songs that remind him of the better times
Again, Paul said something similar:
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16.)
Songs are one of the great memory triggers. That song by Chumbawamba reminds me of youth ministry, Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” takes me right back to high school, and “You Are My Sunshine” transports me all the way to my childhood when my favorite aunt would sing it to me.
If you think now of a song of faith, what do the words remind you of? Is it Christ’s victory as depicted in “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”? Is it the gospel of salvation from “Amazing Grace”? Or perhaps you thought of something more recent, such as “In Christ Alone” and it’s proclamation that Jesus truly is God.
Songs are powerful reminders, and I am thankful for the reminders of God’s truth wherever they are found, even in a pub anthem like “Tubthumping”.
Questions to ponder: What songs bring you to think of God, who he is and what he has done? How do they remind you not only of the good times and better times, as in “Tubthumping”, but the best times we find in Christ?
*In British slang “pissed”=”drunk”. Now you know.