What role (if any) can music play in getting rid of evil spirits as in 1 Samuel 16: 23?


1 Samuel 16:23

ESV - 23 And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.

Clarify Share Report Asked January 18 2017 Mini Lee Dillon

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
I'm not sure that we are to draw any practical conclusions from this account about the possible role of music in combatting evil spirits or demons.

I agree that, in this specific case, David's music sometimes had the effect of calming Saul when he was afflicted by the harmful spirit sent by God. However, I see music as being a neutral agent that can serve either beneficial or ill-meaning (and even evil) purposes, depending on the intent of its use.

Music can be played to soothe or calm. (As the English playwright William Congreve noted, "Music has charms to soothe the savage breast.") However, that can have good uses (such as in the case of David playing for Saul, or people playing soft music to quiet an agitated baby), or evil (and even demonic) purposes (such as the musician inmates whom the Nazis compelled to play classical music at concentration camps to calm or placate those who were going to be executed).

Loud or stirring music can similarly be used either to evoke a frenzy among listeners for destructive purposes, or to inspire or rally them to support a just cause.

Perhaps God's purpose and the role of music in the biblical account cited in the question was not primarily from the standpoint of the music's effect on Saul, but that it allowed David (whom Samuel had already anointed as Saul's replacement) to achieve a place of prominence in Saul's court, which subsequently led to his being in position to achieve widespread acclaim by slaying Goliath, and then to eventually take Saul's place as king.

I think that the insignificance of music in this regard is further reinforced by the fact that Saul, even while David was playing for him, still threw a spear at David two separate times in an attempt to kill him (1 Samuel 18:10-11).

January 19 2017 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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