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"I'd find it hard to deliberately break an instrument I have some affinity to." — Adam, when asked if he's ever smashed a guitar

U2 Bible References: War

War (1983)

The third album is a well-developed, “grown up” version of Boy. The shift to more overt political themes is clearly evidenced in the hits, “New Year’s Day,” and “Sunday Blood Sunday.”

Each song may show up in one, two or three of the following categories:

Direct Quotes (lyrics that are clearly taken from specific verses in the Bible)

Indirect References (lyrics that are likely referencing the Bible but without quoting specific verses)

Possible Influences (lyrics that hint at biblical themes and influences, but have no overt connection).



"Sunday Bloody Sunday"


U2 lyric

Trenches dug within our hearts, And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart

Possible influence

Matthew 10:35 

For I have come to turn

‘a man against his father,

    a daughter against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—

    a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ (NIV) (This is a quote from Micah 7:6)


U2 lyric

Wipe the tears from your eyes / Wipe your tears away

Indirect references

Revelation 7:17 ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ (NIV) (This is a quote from Isaiah 25:8)

Revelation 21:4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (NIV)


U2 lyric

We eat and drink while tomorrow they die

Direct quote

1 Corinthians 15:32 

If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink,

    for tomorrow we die.” (NIV)

(This is a quote from Isaiah 22:13)

Not quite a direct quote, this U2 lyric is a nice ironic twist on the original biblical passage


U2 lyric

How long, how long must we sing this song

Direct quote

Psalm 6:3 My soul is in deep anguish.

    How long, Lord, how long? (NIV)

Psalm 13:1-2 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?

    How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

    How long will my enemy triumph over me? (NIV)

Psalm 89:46 How long, Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?

    How long will your wrath burn like fire? (NIV)

There are many other instances of the “how long” question in the Psalms and elsewhere in scripture


U2 lyric

To claim the victory Jesus won

Indirect reference

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (This is a quote from Isaiah 25:8)

“Where, O death, is your victory?

    Where, O death, is your sting?” (This is a quote from Hosea 13:14)

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.





U2 lyric

Like a thief in the night

Direct quote

1 Thessalonians 5:2 For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (NIV)



"Like A Song..."


U2 lyric

A new heart is what I need / Oh God, make it bleed

Possible influences

Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (NIV)



"Drowning Man"


U2 lyric

Rise up, rise up / With wings like eagles / You'll run, you'll run / You'll run and not grow weary

Direct quote

Isaiah 40:31 Yet those who wait for the Lord

Will gain new strength;

They will mount up with wings like eagles,

They will run and not get tired,

They will walk and not become weary. (NIV)



"The Refugee"



And take her to this promised land

Indirect references

Hebrews 11:9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country. (NIV)

The “promised land” is a concept used in the Hebrew Bible to denote the land promised to Abraham. It has also become a metaphoric way to talk about America.



"Two Hearts Beat As One"



They say I'm a fool / They say I'm nothing / But if I'm a fool for you / Oh, that's something

Possible influences

1 Corinthians 3:18-19 If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. (NIV)






If I wanna live I gotta die to myself someday

Possible influences

Luke 9:24-25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? (NIV)






Entire song

Direct quote

Psalm 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the Lord;

And He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,

And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;

Many will see and fear

And will trust in the Lord. (NASB)


Psalm 13 How long, O Lord?