Faith Behind The Song: "Surrounded By Holy" Zahriya Zachary

Posted on Friday, October 20, 2023 by Scott Savage

Faith Behind The Song: "Surrounded by Holy" Zahriya Zachary

Do you ever feel small? 

It’s easy to feel small in a world of 8 billion people.

It’s easy to feel small in a world of influencers and celebrities. 

It’s easy to feel small in a world where you wonder if what you do matters, if what you’re sacrificing matters, if who you are matters.

A couple of years ago, I felt so small. In the middle of the pandemic, my church went through a season of loss and transition. Unable to open because the venue we rented had closed, we remained online longer than any other church in our community. Hundreds of people left our church for new churches. At the same time, I watched friends take steps in their callings, while I did not feel momentum in mine. Part of me felt jealous, but part of me also felt small, as I was questioning my value and the value of my work.

In that season, God used a few worship songs in my life that became like anthems. They gave me the words to express prayers to God that I didn’t know how to pray. They spoke words which comforted the wounded places in me, and they challenged and encouraged the confused and misled places in me back towards truth. 

If you’re feeling small and wondering if you matter, I encourage you to consider Zahriya Zachary’s song, “Surrounded by Holy.” This song paints a beautiful vision of who we are in the context of who God is.

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The chorus of the song includes these words: 

"Holy, surrounded by holy
There's no one more holy
I'm in wonder and awe
In wonder and awe"

In an interview with CCM, Zachary shared, “Surrounded by Holy” is about the throne room of heaven and the never-ending song that is taking place, as the saints and angels behold the lamb of God… Here on earth, when we enter into His presence, our natural response is to join in with the song of heaven… As we’re filled with His presence, it leaves us in wonder and awe of Him.

The wonder Zachary talks about is rare in our experiences today. While we engage in technology that our grandparents or great-grandparents would have considered science-fiction, we have lost our sense of wonder and awe. Often, it’s when we leave behind our technology and step into nature without it or walk out in a dark place and gaze at the stars that we rediscover how small we are. In those moments, though, our smallness doesn’t make us feel bad like we often do. Instead, it makes us feel alright. 

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In this cultural moment, conversations about God are all about how close He is to us and how personal He is with us. But, this focus on what theologians call the “immanence” of God often comes with no acknowledgment of the “transcendence” of God. We need to know God is near us and with us - that He became like us in Jesus coming to earth and making his dwelling among us, as John 1:14 indicates.

But, when we stop and consider the holiness of God, we immediately feel a sense of wonder and awe. In “Surrounded by Holy”, Zachary sings,

 “The more that I enter in, You consume all I am
I lose myself in the One who's holy
As we come face to face, You take my breath away
All I can do is cry holy, holy”

In a world that feeds our sense of smallness and inadequacy and promises us we’ll be enough on our own, the Scriptures invite us to encounter God for who He is and discover we are only enough in Him. 

In Isaiah 6, Isaiah has a profound encounter as he is “surrounded by holy.” Verse 1 begins like this - “It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.” After angels speak, shaking the foundations of the heavenly temple and smoke fills the air, Isaiah cries out, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”

Isaiah’s lips are later cleansed by an angel using a burning coal from the altar and his sins are forgiven by God. He is called to preach to the people of God the very words God would give him directly. 

Isaiah’s life changed when he had an encounter with a holy God. He saw himself as God did and He received work that God had called him to do. He wasn’t small - he was valued. He wasn’t insignificant - he was sent on a mission. He wasn’t unknown - he was known by a holy God. 

In the same way that a worship song strengthened my soul a couple of years ago when my world was shaken, I pray that your struggle with feeling small is helped by “Surrounded by Holy.” I pray that listening to and meditating on the words of this song (perhaps even reading the story of Isaiah 8) reminds me of who God is and who you are in His eyes. 

Derwin Gray said, “If Jesus knowing your name is not enough, then the whole world knowing your name will never be enough.” 

You are known and loved by a Holy God. May He be enough for you today!

Scott Savage is a pastor and a writer with the best last name in the world. Scott’s writing helps you laugh, challenges you to think, and invites you to grow. He leads Cornerstone Church in Prescott, Arizona. Scott is married to Dani, an award-winning attorney, and they are the parents of three growing savages. You can learn more about Scott’s newest resource, The Start-Over Guide, at

Faith Behind the SongZahriya ZacharyBehind the Music

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