Bible references in U2 Song Lyrics

U2's incorporation of biblical references and lessons into their lyrics is a profound aspect of their songwriting, offering a layer of spiritual depth that transcends conventional rock music themes. This use of biblical allusions not only reflects the personal beliefs of the band members, particularly Bono, but also serves to elevate their music to a plane where spiritual inquiry and rock 'n' roll coexist. The band's engagement with these themes is not just a nod to Christianity; it's an exploration of universal questions about faith, morality, and the human condition.

At the heart of U2's use of biblical themes is a desire to intertwine the spiritual with the secular, creating a dialogue between faith and real-world issues. Songs like "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" from their seminal album "The Joshua Tree" exemplify this blend. The song, with its gospel-tinged melody, speaks of a spiritual journey that is both personal and universal, reflecting a quest for meaning and fulfillment beyond material success. The lyrics, "I have spoken with the tongue of angels/I have held the hand of a devil," illustrate the struggle between good and evil, a central theme in many biblical narratives.

u2 coexist logo bible references
Just do it.

Through their use of biblical quotes and lessons, U2 invites listeners to explore spiritual dimensions within the context of their music. This approach not only augments their lyrics with deeper meaning but also allows the band to engage with their audience on a more profound level. Whether one is a believer or not, the spiritual undercurrent in U2's music offers a rich tapestry of thought and emotion, prompting reflection on larger existential questions and the role of faith in the modern world.

Here's a list of biblical references U2 have made in their lyrics. It was compiled by Angela Pancella from the fantastic U2 resource, @U2. I've taken the list and made some changes to the links, but the content is still mostly based upon Angela' work.

I do note that some of the supposed bible references are tenuous. If Bono is talking bout a blind man it doesn't necessarily follow he was refering to a blind man in the bible...they are perhaps more likley coincidences, but as I said, it's about lyrical interpretation!

Biblical References in U2 songs, list by album.

Album: Boy

"If you walk away walk away I will follow" -- Ruth 1:16: "But Ruth said, "Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God."

Album: October

"In te domine...exultate...miserere" -- The first words in Latin of three Psalms--30 (31): "In Thee O Lord do I put my trust...", 32 (33): "Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous..." and 50 (51): "Have mercy on me, O God." "O Lord, loosen my lips"--Psalm 50 (51): "O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise."
"Only in you I'm complete" -- Colossians 2:10 "For in {Christ} dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And in him you are complete."
"The sun is burning black ... the moon is running red ... the stars are falling down" -- from Revelation 6, 12-13: "Then I watched while he broke open the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; the sun turned as black as dark sackcloth and the whole moon became like blood. The stars in the sky fell to the earth like unripe figs shaken loose from the tree in a strong wind."
"Who tore the curtain? Who was it for?" -- Matthew 27:51: [The Crucifixion] "At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split."
The door imagery and "open up to the Lamb of God" is from Rev 3:20 when Jesus says: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will eat with him, and he with me."
"And kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall" -- this one may be a bit of a stretch, but Psalm 46:6: "Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts."
"With a shout" -- Psalm 47:5 "God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet." Also I think there is an overall reference to the Psalms of Ascent, which were chanted by pilgrims on the way up the hill to Jerusalem, e.g. Psalm 122 "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem."
"No one is blinder than he who will not see" -- John 9:40-41 "And some of the Pharisees who were with Jesus heard these words, and said to him, Are we blind also? Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would have no sin: but now that you claim to see, your sin remains."
The entire song makes allusion to the Emmaus story from Luke 24, where the risen Jesus appears as a stranger, but miraculously cannot be recognized until he offers bread to the two disciples who have invited him in. The song paraphrases their exclamation when they realize who they have been with -- "They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" ("I watched as he watched us. The way it was when he was with us") Though it is late night, they don't go to sleep but instead walk 9 miles back to Jerusalem to tell the others what they saw. ("They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, 'It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.' Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.") This parallels: "But I couldn't sleep after what I saw: I wrote this letter to tell you the way I feel. I wish you were here to see what I could see."

Album: War

"Trenches dug within our hearts, And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart" -- Matthew 10:35: "For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
"Wipe the tears from your eyes" -- Revelation 21:4: "He will wipe every tear from their eyes..."
"We eat and drink while tomorrow they die" A brilliant ironic take on I Cor 15:32 "If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." The "how long" cry is too frequent in the Bible to cover in full, but here are some prominent examples:
Ps 6:3 "My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long?" (This is the same line Bono says he used in "40," too.)
Ps 94:3 "How long will the wicked, O LORD, how long will the wicked be jubilant?"
Habakkuk 1:2 "How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save?"
"Like a thief in the night" -- 1 Thessalonians 5:2: "for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night."
"A new heart is what I need/Oh God, make it bleed" -- 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."
"Rise up, rise up/With wings like eagles/You'll run, you'll run/You'll run and not grow weary" -- Isaiah 40:31: "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
"Say I'm a fool; You say I'm nothing; But if I'm a fool for you, Oh, that's something" I Cor 3:18 If any one among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. I Cor 4:10 We are fools for Christ's sake.
"If I wanna live I gotta die to myself someday" -- Luke 9:24-25: "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?"
Psalm 40, though Bono has mentioned in his intro to the book of Psalms that "How long (to sing this song)" was borrowed from Psalm 6.

Album: The Unforgettable Fire

"One man betrayed with a kiss" -- "Jesus said to him, 'Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?'"
"One man washed on an empty beach" -- Possibly a reference to Jonah 2:10: "Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit up Jonah on the beach, and it did." 'Jonah and the Whale' story
"One man come he to justify" is from Isaiah 53:11, probably the best- known Old Testament prophecy describing the purpose of Jesus' coming: "my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities." "Justify" is a key verb in Christian theology referring to how the grace of Jesus makes believers right with God.
"And if the mountains should crumble or disappear into the sea..." Psalm 46:2: "Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea."
"A dry and waterless place" -- Deut 8:15 "He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that dry and waterless land."

U2 Album: The Joshua Tree

"We're beaten and blown by the wind" -- James 1:6: "But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind."
Although I'm sure there are several layers of meaning to this image, I cannot imagine someone who knows the Bible as well as Bono describing an ideal place in terms of "streets" without thinking of the description of the great street in the kingdom of Heaven -- Revelation 22:1 "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city." And 22:21 "The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass."
"I have spoken with the tongue of angels" -- 1 Corinthians 13:1: "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."
"See the thorn twist in your side" -- 2 Corinthians 12:7: "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me."
"Jacob wrestled the angel/And the angel was overcome" -- Genesis 32:25: "Jacob was left there alone. Then some man wrestled with him until the break of dawn."
"Sweet the sin, Bitter the taste in my mouth" -- Rev 10:10 "And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter."
"Hope, faith, her vanity/The greatest gift is gold" -- an ironic take (who says U2 didn't discover irony until Achtung Baby?) on 1 Corinthians 13:13: "So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (Thanks to Mateo)
"I stand with the sons of Cain" --In Genesis 4 Cain kills his brother and is marked forever by God and sent away as a murderer, thus experiencing the scary aspect of coming into contact with the divine ("burned by the fire of love.") In exile Cain has sons: one of the sons of Cain, Jubal, is traditionally considered the ancestor of musicians. "He was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ."
"I was cold and you clothed me honey..." -- Matthew 25:35-36: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me..."
"You know his blood still cries from the ground" -- Genesis 4:10 -- "[The murder of Abel by Cain] The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground."
"I'll see you again when the stars fall from the sky..." -- see note on "Fire."
"We run like a river to the sea" -- Ecclesiastes 1:7: "All rivers go to the sea, yet never does the sea become full. To the place where they go, the rivers keep on going."
"Saw the hands that build can also pull down" -- Jer 1:10 "See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." And Jer 31:28 "Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant," declares the Lord."

Album: Rattle and Hum

"Like tongues of flame" -- Acts 2:3: "[The apostles receive the Holy Spirit] Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each of them."
"He'll be your shelter from the storm" -- Psalm 55:8: "I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm." (another stretch)
This obviously has a literal meaning in the song, but it is also a very frequently used phrase in the Bible and it has some positive and some negative meanings. Among the ones that fit the song most are: Deut 29:17 You saw among them their detestable images and idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold. Ps 133:15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. Zephaniah 1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lords's wrath.
"Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow/Yet I will fear no evil/I have cursed they rod and staff/They no longer comfort me..." -- Psalm 23 -- "Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage."
"I was there when they crucified my Lord/I held the scabbard when the soldier drew his sword/I threw the dice when they pierced his side..." -- Matthew 27:35: "After they had crucified him, they divided his garments by casting lots."

Album: Achtung Baby

"Love we shine like a burning star/We're falling from the sky tonight" -- Luke 10:18: "Jesus said to them, 'I saw Satan fall from the sky like lightning.'"
"We ate the food, we drank the wine...I took the money, I spiked your drink...In the garden I was playing the tart, I kissed your lips and broke your heart" -- see Judas and Jesus in Matthew 14-15, 20-29, 47-49
"Well you left my heart empty as a vacant lot/for any spirit to haunt" -- Luke 11:24-26:"When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first."
"Between the horses of love and lust we are trampled underfoot" -- 2 Kings 9:33 (The death of Jezebel): "' Throw her down!' Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot."
Tarheel Tim's taken care of this one by pointing out elements of the song (the moon, Johnny, living underground, running away from what you don't understand, belly dancing, even the title phrase) that are also in Oscar Wilde's play "Salome." The Biblical story of Salome can be found in Mark 6: 17-29. The Lord also works in mysterious ways eh Bono?
"He took an open top Beetle/through the eye of a needle" -- Luke 18:24-25 -- "Jesus looked at him now sad and said, 'How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."

Album: Zooropa


"And when you're dry/She draws her water from the stone" -- Numbers 20:8: "[God said to Moses] 'Take this staff and assemble thee community, you and your brother Aaron, and in their presence order the rock to yield its waters. From the rock you shall bring forth water for the community and their livestock to drink.'"
"Stay with the demons you drowned" -- Matthew 9:31-32: "The demons pleaded with [Jesus], 'If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.' And he said to them, 'Go then!' They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned."
"Gave me the keys to his kingdom coming" -- Matthew 16:19: "[Jesus said to Peter] 'I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.'"
"He said 'I have many mansions/And there are many rooms to see' " -- John 14:2: "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."
"Through streets paved with gold" -- Revelation 21:21: "The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass."
"Who would sit at his Father's right hand" -- Matthew 26:64: "'Yes, it is as you say,' Jesus replied. 'But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.'"
Another possible title for this song, according to an interview with Bono in the book Race of Angels, was "The Preacher." Though no lines correspond exactly, the spirit of the song echoes the entire book of Ecclesiastes (also sometimes called "The Preacher"). For instance: "I went out there in search of experience/to taste and to touch and to feel as much as a man can before he repents" and Ecclesiastes 11:9: "Rejoice, O young man, while you are young, and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart, the vision of your eyes; yet understand as regards all this God will bring you to judgment."

Album: Original Soundtrack 1 (Passengers)

"reading Corinthians 13" -- That's the "Love is patient, love is kind" chapter that is so popular at weddings. Yep, that's what we had!

Album: Pop

"It's the blind leading the blond" is a play on Matthew 15:14: "Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."
"So where is the hope, and where is the faith, and the love?" -- 1 Corinthians 13:13.
"Then there will be no time of sorrow, then there will be no time for pain" -- Revelation 21:4: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
"Your sermon on the mount" -- Matthew 5:1-12 or Luke 6:20-26
"your Father, He made the world in seven" -- Genesis 1:1-2:4
"Wake up, wake up dead man" -- possibly Ephesians 5:14: "...for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: 'Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'"

Album: All That You Can't Leave Behind

"The heart is a bloom/shoots up through the stony ground" -- Isaiah 52:3: "He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground."
"See the bird with the leaf in her mouth" -- Genesis 8:10-11: "[Noah] waited seven days more and again sent the dove out from the ark. In the evening the dove came back to him, and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf! So Noah knew that the waters had lessened on the earth."
"After the flood all the colours came out" -- Genesis 9:12-13: "God added: 'This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.'"
"I am not afraid of anything in this world" -- Luke 12:4: "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more."
"A place that has to be believed to be seen" -- John 11:40 Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
"Home - I can't say where it is, but I know I'm going" -- John 14: 4-6 Jesus said, "You know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way."
"In a little while, I won't be blown by every breeze..." -- Ephesians 4:14 Then, we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of doctrine.
"You were my shelter and my shade" -- Isaiah 25:4 "You have been... a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat."
"She carries a pearl in perfect condition" -- Matt 13:45-46 "The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."
"What left a mark no longer stains" -- Not a quote, but a pretty clear allusion to Isaiah 1:18 "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow."

Album: How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

"All of this can be yours/just give me what I want/and no one gets hurt" -- the temptation by Jesus in the desert by Satan, specifically what the Devil tells him in Luke 4:7: "So if you worship me, it will all be yours."
"I was a stranger/you took me in" -- Matthew 25:34-35: "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in..." ("and ye took me in" in the King James Version) (submitted first by Robin)
"Lay down your treasure" -- Matthew 6:19-21: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
"Blessings are not just for the ones who kneel/luckily" -- Matthew 5:44-45: "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."
"All because of you/I am" -- A few folks have found it interesting that the same album that has a song called "Yahweh" has a song with a close English translation of the Hebrew name of God-see Exodus 3:13-14: "'But,' said Moses to God, 'when I go to the Israelites and say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you," if they ask me, "What is his name?" what am I to tell them?' God replied, 'I am who I am.' Then he added, 'This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.'"
"I would believe if I was able/I'm waiting on the crumbs from your table" -- Matthew 15:21-27: Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession." Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said. He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." "Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."
The title is the name of God given in the passage quoted for "All Because of You," "I am who I am."
"A city should be shining on a hill" -- Matthew 5:14: "You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid."
"My garden's overgrown/I go out on my belly crawling" -- allusion to the serpent in the story of the Fall and the curse given the serpent in Genesis 3:14: "Then the Lord God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; on your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life."

Album: No Line On The Horizon

"It was a joyful noise" -- Psalm 100:1: "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands." (King James; see also Psalm 66:1, Psalm 81:1, Psalm 95:1-2, Psalm 98:4,6)
"Justified till we die" -- the concept of being "justified" shows up all over the place, particularly in Paul's letters, see for instance Romans 8:30: "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." (King James)
"You and I will magnify" -- Luke 1:46-55 is the song of Mary known as the Magnificat for its first line, rendered in King James as "My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."
"It's not if I believe in love/But if love believes in me" -- echoes 1 John 4:10: "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
"At the altar of the dark star" -- See "Slide Away" (below)
"3:33 when the numbers fell off the clockface" -- see the cover art for All That You Can't Leave Behind and its reference to Jeremiah 33:3: "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." Bono told Rolling Stone, "It's known as 'God's telephone number.'"
"Cease to speak that I may speak" -- may reference Psalm 46:10: "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
"Is it true that perfect love drives out all fear" -- more 1 John 4, this time 18: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
"I can stand up for hope, faith, love" -- 1 Corinthians 13:13: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (See "Elvis Ate America.")
"God is love"-- 1 John 4:16: "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." (I'm just going to start calling this album 1 John 4 from now on.)
"Who can forgive forgiveness where forgiveness is not/Only the lamb as white as snow" -- John 1:29: "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'" (Also see Exodus 12 for a description of the sacrificial lamb of Passover being without blemish.)
Mentions of the cedars of Lebanon are scattered throughout the Bible. See Song of Solomon 5:15: "His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars."

B-Sides and Miscellaneous Tracks

"A Celebration"
"I believe in the walls of Jericho/I believe they're coming down" -- Joshua 6:20: "When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city."
"Alex Descends Into Hell..."
"Dies irae, dies illa/Dies irae, dies illa Tuba mirum spargens sonum {on the day of wrath, that day, the trumpet's wondrous call}" -- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."
(From the Requiem Mass) "Dies irae/dies illa/Tuba mirum/Spargens sonum (That day of wrath/That day/The trumpet's wondrous call/Sounding abroad)" --1 Corinthians 15:52: " an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
(Note: the last line "Descendit in Inferno" is not part of the Dies Irae, but the Creed: "He descended into Hell")
The song, like Oscar Wilde's play "Salome," is taken from the story of the death of John the Baptist; see Mark 6:17-29.
"Give you half what I got if you untie the knot, it's a promise" -- Mark 6:22-23: "Herodias' own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, 'Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.' He even swore [many things] to her, 'I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.'" [Note: I just now noticed that the name "Salome" is never mentioned in these accounts, just as it is never mentioned that the dance she performs is the dance of the seven veils. But this account grew into a medieval legend, and perhaps the extra details came into the story then.]
"Baby I feel sick, don't make me stick to a promise" -- Mark 6:25-26: "The girl hurried back to the king's presence and made her request, 'I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.' The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her."
"Slide Away" (by Michael Hutchence)
"But you tore a hole in space like a dark star falls from grace" -- Luke 10:18: "Jesus said, 'I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.'" ('Lucifer' is the name once given to Venus, the morning star; in "At the End of the World" Flanagan mentions Bono wanting to put the line "I was a child to your dark star" into "You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart.")
"Falling At Your Feet"
"Every knee not ready to bend" -- Philippians 2:9-10: "...God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth."
"Not my will, Thy will" --Matthew 26:39: Jesus' prayer in the garden of Gethsemane -- "He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.'"
"Put your head over the parapet" -- Matthew 4:5-6: From the temptation of Jesus--"Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: "He will command his angels concerning you" and "with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone."'"
(Now this one has an unusual history. The first time I heard Bono talking about "putting one's head over the parapet" was in an interview about the Million Dollar Hotel. He was talking about the necessity for rock musicians to take risks that would leave them vulnerable. It was only because this was in the context of a movie about a man jumping from a roof that it was clear he was referencing this verse -- that and the fact the word "parapet" doesn't show up that often in the Bible.)
"Spirit come on down" -- stories of the Holy Spirit coming down from heaven can be found in several places: see Luke 3:21-22 and Acts 2:1-4.
"Through the locked doors" -- John 20:19: "On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!'"
"I was drinking some wine and it turned to blood" -- among other passages, see 1 Corinthians 11:23-25: "For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.'"
"I'm born again and again and again..." -- John 3:3: "In reply Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.'"
"Wave of Sorrow (Birdland)"
"Where now the Emperor Menelik/and the Queen of Sheba's gold" -- the Queen of Sheba's visit to King Solomon is recorded in 1 Kings 10. Ethiopian tradition has it that the Ethiopian Emperor Menelik was the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon.
"Oh son of the shepherd boy now king/What wisdom can you bring" -- the shepherd boy is King David, his son is King Solomon; the story of how Solomon attained his great wisdom is found in 1 Kings 3.
"Blessed are the meek who scratch in the dirt/For they shall inherit what's left of the earth" -- this section echoes the wording of the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-10 (a sample: "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.")
"They are blessed in this valley of dry bones" -- areference to the vision of Ezekiel recorded in Ezekiel 37:1-3: "The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said, "O Sovereign LORD, you alone know."


"40," is a song that directly references Psalm 40 from the Bible. The lyrics, "I waited patiently for the Lord/He inclined and heard my cry," resonate with themes of waiting, redemption, and salvation. This song, often used to close U2's concerts, becomes a communal experience, transforming the concert into a space of reflection and connection, with audiences often singing along long after the band has left the stage.

U2's use of biblical allusions is also evident in their social and political commentary. "Bullet the Blue Sky," for instance, while primarily a critique of American foreign policy in Central America, also contains references to Scriptural themes of justice and oppression. Similarly, "Yahweh," a track from "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," delves into themes of creation, imperfection, and the human struggle to reconcile with God's will, alluding to the complex relationship between humanity and the divine. 


Anonymous said...

I'm sick of Bobo and his preaching.

Anonymous said...

these dudes have been at it for 3 decades. it's because of God's favor that they keep ticking; they've honor him in a clever way. People don't even realize they're listening to scripture...they didn't sell their souls to the Devil like the Rolling Stones who've been at it for works both ways, but U2 have a different message, a different vibe that attracts people more then the Stones. It's a spiritual thing. that's my minute thought