“The Devil Went Down To Georgia” by Charlie Daniels Band
40 Days Of Country – Day #37 – Lent 2016
Born in 1936, Charlie Daniels and his band, with a career that spans 60 years, have written and performed alongside musical greats such as Elvis Presley, Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan, just to name a few. However, it was their 1979 breakout hit, “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” for which they are best known, that landed them their greatest success and lasting fame.
The song is offers a modern twist on the classic “deal with the devil” tale, this time centering on a fiddle duel between “Satan” and a young man named “Johnny.” At stake include “a fiddle of gold,” if Johnny wins, and of course, as is typical in these stories, Johnny’s “soul” if the Devil out duels him, clearly a calculated risk on Johnny’s part. And while I don’t believe any “shiny fiddle made of gold” is worth risking one’s eternal salvation or damnation, Johnny is confident that the devil doesn’t stand a chance. Despite “a band of demons joinin’ in” with Satan, Johnny’s “Fire on the Mountain, run boy run,” was too much for the prince of hell, and Lucifer left, defeated, embarrassed, and short one fiddle.
Perhaps the best known story of Satan challenging someone on earth to a duel (of sorts) is found in the three synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Matthew 4:3, while Jesus is fasting in the wilderness, the devil tells Jesus, “Since you are God’s sons, command these stones to become bread,” in order to satisfy his hunger, thus violating his spiritual discipline and using his power for selfish gain. This temptation is followed by two more tests, but Jesus is able to respond to each trial with scripture and assurance of God’s providence. Likewise, there will be times when we feel like we are being challenged or tested by the Satan, but like Johnny, the Christ who lives in us gives us all the strength we need to stand our grand and send the devil packing. It may not earn us a “fiddle of gold,” but last time I checked, the grace of Christ and an eternity in God’s presence is way better than that anyways!
God of grace and forgiveness, teach us to turn to you when challenges come our way and we face temptations we feel are beyond our control. May the Christ who lives in us do great works through us, and if the devil is ever down in Georgia, remind us that we have a home waiting for us up in heaven. Amen.