This song is near and dear to my heart as it expresses several pillars of foundational truth through the words of Psalm 139.
First, “You Are There” is a statement about the reality of God. My personal walk with the Lord is wrought with the struggle between doubt and trust. Seems more often than not, I’m crying out with the father in Mark 9:24 “I believe; help my unbelief!” (actually, that’s another song I’ve written…). And so through the Psalmist, this song declares the truth of God’s omnipotent reality.
Regardless of our circumstances and skewed perceptions, He exists. In the celebratory highs of life—if I ascend to Heaven—God is there. In the devastating lows of life—if I make my bed in Sheol—God is there. My existential musings and multifaceted questions may persist, but in the end, none of that affects this truth: He is there. He is here. He is real.
Second, “You Are There” is a reminder that the presence of God knows no bounds. This song emerged one morning in early September 2014 during a very transitory season of my life. I had just returned to the US after living in China for 2 years, and I was about to move to Switzerland for a 2-year Master’s program. Needless to say, much of everything in my life was up in the air. In the midst of transition, I clung to this truth: God is with me.
Through song, I joined in the Psalmist’s unwavering confidence in God’s omnipresence—his certainty that he could go absolutely anywhere and God would still be with him. One of my favorite biblical promises comes from Joshua 1:5. “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous.” God made this promise to Joshua, but it also extends to all Believers. God is present. He is with us.
This knowledge that I am never alone, that Jesus will never leave me nor forsake me (Heb. 13:5), that the Holy Spirit lives in me (Rom. 8:11)—is what enables me to say “Yes” to whatever crazy adventure God sets in front of me. And it’s what sustains me both in the highest of highs and lowest of lows. No matter where I go, no matter what the circumstances, God is present with me.
Finally, “You Are There” is a declaration of the triumph of God. Light triumphs over darkness. Life over death. “Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you” (Psalm 139:12). We live in a crazy, scary world these days. Just a glance at the news is enough to make us lose heart. But Jesus had something to say about that: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
At the moment our world still suffers under the occupation of Satan and darkness until Jesus returns to make all things new. But through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, Death has ultimately been eternally beaten. Quoting the prophet Isaiah, the Apostle Paul rejoiced, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55-56). Jesus is victorious over Death. Our hope is sure. Indeed, “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).
“You Are There” speaks to the truth that God exists, that He walks through this life with us, and that He has ultimate triumph over darkness.
// Karen Brubaker
Find more of Karen's music and story at karenbrubaker.com
You Are There (Psalm 139)
Where shall I go from Your Spirit?
Where shall I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to Heaven,
If I make my bed in Sheol,
You are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
Dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me,
For You are there...
You are there (repeat)
You hem me in behind and before
You lay Your hand upon me
You’re too wonderful (x2)
Surely the darkness shall cover me
The light about me be black as the night
Even the darkness is not dark to You;
Deep night is bright as the day with You
For You are there!
You are there (repeat)