My Deliverer – What do the symbols in the Rich Mullins song mean?

Pastor Rich Laskowski
January 22, 2018

God in His omniscience has embedded within the fabric of creation a voice that cries out with a singular message that all humans are able to hear.  To some, it is a faint voice, but even though faint, it rides the wind like a whisper and echos through the halls of time.

For the believer, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the voice is louder, clearer, and more personal, but because the voice resonates with the spirit of the believer, the believer’s heart burst forth with the response, “My Deliverer is coming!”.

The people of God have always heard this voice.  In Egypt, the captive Israelites heard it and cried out.

When Israel was in captivity in Babylon they heard it and cried out for deliverance.

In the first century, both Simeon and Anna in the temple of God heard the voice and waited for Messiah with confidence that their deliverer was coming.

Then it happened, in response to the cry, the Deliverer appeared

Lu 2:6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God and King of kings was born – The Deliverer had come!

The song, “My Deliverer” by Rich Mullins, is a profound and powerful song with lyrics that surpass the typical contemporary worship song.

 

Joseph took his wife and her child and they went to Africa

To escape the rage of a deadly king

There along the banks of the Nile, Jesus listened to the song

That the captive children used to sing

 

Mullins envisions Mary and Joseph fleeing with Jesus to Egypt as King Herod seeks to find and kill the Christ Child.  Mullins paints the picture that in Africa/Egypt where the Israelites were once captives, Jesus can hear their songs and cries for deliverance as though they were still hanging in the air from centuries before.

 

They were singin’

“My deliverer is coming, my deliverer is standing by

My deliverer is coming, my deliverer is standing by”

 

What a beautiful picture of Jesus compassion not missing one solitary cry of pain filled hope, and not one word of God’s people falling upon deaf ears, but instead God collecting every one with full intention to answer.

Mullins goes on and writes,

 

Through a dry and thirsty land, water from the Kenyon heights

Pours itself out of Lake Sangra’s broken heart

There in the Sahara winds Jesus heard the whole world cry

For the healing that would flow from His own scars

 

These lyrics call us to deeper thought and revelation of God’s love for those who cry out.  Mullins points us to the continent of Africa as he skillfully draws an illustration from the geography of the land.  The Sahara Dessert runs across the top of the continent. Much of it is dry, dusty, and desolate. Below the Sahara Dessert is the country of Kenya where Mount Kenya is located.

Mount Kenya is the 2nd highest mountain in Africa and at its top is a rare occurrence, a tropical glacier.  The runoff water from the glacier atop Mount Kenya sends cool clean water down into streams and tributaries to dry and thirsty lands.

Mullins writes of a lake called Sangra. A quick internet search reveals that there is no Lake Sangra in Kenya, so what does Mullins mean?  The word “sangra” means to bleed, or blood.  He draws this beautiful word picture of the waters of Mount Kenya flowing into a lake of blood that then flows out to a dry and dusty land to do more than just quench physical thirst, but quench the cry of the thirsty soul in need of rescue, deliverance, and forgiveness of sin.  This deliverance “flows from His own scars”.

The voice still hangs in the air. Still resonates with the hearts of believers everywhere, as they cry out in Holy Spirit unison, “My Deliverer is coming, my Deliverer is standing by”.

Pastor Rich Laskowski

Rich serves as lead pastor of Christ Community Church in Brazil, Indiana.

6 Comments

  1. This is an awesome explanation for Rich Mullin’s song. Thank you so much.

  2. Magnificent.

  3. I have always loved Rich Mullins’ artistry in his songwriting. It was both raw and eloquent, guarded yet vulnerable. Some of my favorite lyrics in this song are ” I will never doubt his promise, though I doubt my heart, I doubt my eyes.” There is such a deep lesson in this. It’s all about trusting God despite the circumstances that surround us and how we feel. Our feelings are as fleeting as the sands on the beach…we must build our house on the rock that is never moved. Another song of Rich’s that is overlooked is The Colour Green. I also just watched the Ragamuffin movie…a very honest look at Rich’s life…they overlooked a few key elements, but nonetheless an excellent movie on the necessity of fatherhood. God Bless.

  4. God has had this song on my heart for the last few months and I could not get it out and could not find the song. It was one of my favorites long ago. Finally today, the song came back to me and I have shared it with my whole family. What power this song holds. During this time of worldly crisis, we truly need to believe that our Deliver is coming and He is standing by. The whole world needs him now more than ever before. Such an anthem. Thank you for this interpretation, it added so much more to the meaning! Thank you for doing this.

  5. Your very clear and thoughtful articulation of this song’s meanings is an answer to my prayer. I searched for the meaning and location of Lake Sangra for a long time. I’ve wanted to play this song in church but didn’t because without the meaning it appears that the song is just Christian entertainment. Now, with the meaning understood, it is obvious that this is a praise song that can actually help lead people to worship Jesus (Yeshua), the Christ. Thank you.

  6. Thank you. I recently saw a powerful video on YouTube done using clips of various heroes from movies to show who Jesus is, set to this song. I didn’t understand the second verse, and its reference to the Kenyan heights and Lake Sangra. It is a stunning song, and I appreciate your explanation. The video that made me see an old favorite by Rich Mullins with greater understanding is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCRxjomgzCA

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