Billy Joel and the Glory of God

piano keys

piano keys

Two Fridays ago, my friend Scott took me to see Billy Joel, one of my all-time favorite songwriters.

The Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh is packed with thousands of excited fans. The crowd begins cheering as the Arena lights dim. For a few minutes we sit in darkness as shadowy musicians move about on stage. Suddenly lights flood the stage and in the center Billy Joel is bent over his grand piano pounding out the unforgettable staccato intro to ?Angry Young Man.? ?I can?t believe I?m seeing this!? I shout to a smiling Scott.

Hold it ? don?t call the Christian music police on me. I know Billy?s not a Christian. And he?s got a few songs I don?t listen to. But I can praise God for him.? Why? Because he?s fulfilling Psalm 8:

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands (PS 8.5-6)

God has crowned human beings (even non-Christians) with glory and honor by giving them dominion over creation. This means that God has granted us the ability to take the earth’s raw materials and make things out of them – skyscrapers and grand pianos and iPods, yarn and yogurt, bridges and basketballs. When Billy Joel writes a song, he?s unknowingly taking dominion over the creation.

I once heard Wayne Grudem say that if Adam came back today and saw our automobiles and washing machines and televisions he?d be amazed at what we?ve done with the earth and he?d praise God for giving humans such abilities.

In Psalm 8, as the writer contemplates the heavens, he?s amazed that God would care about us clods of dirt, and even more amazed that he would crown us with the talents to do such incredible things with his world. As the Psalmist contemplates man?s creativity he?s not amazed at humans, but at God:

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (v9).

I can praise God for paintings by Monet and Van Gogh, though they were probably not Christians. I can worship him for Google and Gibson guitars and digital cameras and Teflon pans, and for the gifts he?s given Billy Joel. Because I?m not amazed at Billy. I?m amazed at God.


  • Ben says:

    I went to see Billy Joel in london back in ’93. i personally believe that if you are a spiritual being, you can find spiritual things in everything. i am personally ministered to by God from many non Christian things, and it is because i am a spiritual being and i can appriciate God in all things. Solomon was constantly finding God in Ecclesesties (spell check). in one verse he looks at ants and finds spiritual meaning from the way they live, and in an other he looks at a wall that had been knocked down and sought the wisdom of God concerning it. God is all in all.

  • Great comments, Ben!

    I agree. If we look closely enough, all of creation points us to God – ants and broken walls included – great examples! I’m so glad the Lord saved me and opened my eyes to see. Thanks Ben.

  • Bill Haughery says:

    Thank you for the clarity with which you have written on this topic. Your words lift my eyes to Jesus in the simplest of ways. I enjoy reading what you and Stephen have to say. Thank you for expressing your gift.


  • Hi Bill,

    Thanks for your kind words. I’m honored that you would even read these feeble posts.


  • fluff says:

    don’t worry im leaving the library very soon; and i probably won’t be back to this site for quite a while because i don’t “bog” or whatever the verb is, but Billy JOel, as you may remember, was an OIC favorite! however, i just realized the other daty that I no longer like his love songs anymore; i think my favorite has to be “Because we’re living here in allentown….”

  • Fluff, He did “Allentown” in the concert. I rushed the stage and made the train sounds with my mouth. That was just before the security guys grabbed me…

  • jen says:

    I just love your perspective on faith and God. I really enjoy reading these. Thank you.

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