At that very moment the Spirit of GOD left Saul and in its place a black mood sent by GOD settled on him. He was terrified.
Saul's advisors said, "This awful tormenting depression from God is making your life miserable. O Master, let us help. Let us look for someone who can play the harp. When the black mood from God moves in, he'll play his music and you'll feel better."
Saul told his servants, "Go ahead. Find me someone who can play well and bring him to me."
One of the young men spoke up, "I know someone. I've seen him myself: the son of Jesse of Bethlehem, an excellent musician. He's also courageous, of age, well-spoken, and good-looking. And GOD is with him."
So Saul sent messengers to Jesse requesting, "Send your son David to me, the one who tends the sheep."
Jesse took a donkey, loaded it with a couple of loaves of bread, a flask of wine, and a young goat, and sent his son David with it to Saul. David came to Saul and stood before him. Saul liked him immediately and made him his right-hand man.
Saul sent word back to Jesse: "Thank you. David will stay here. He's just the one I was looking for. I'm very impressed by him."
After that, whenever the bad depression from God tormented Saul, David got out his harp and played. That would calm Saul down, and he would feel better as the moodiness lifted.
Above:David Plays His Harp for Saul (1858) by French painter James Tissot. __________________________________________________________
Saul took good advice and sought comfort from his depression, or as some translations say, a tormenting spirit, through music. Today, we have a million issues that concern us. The economy seems to be getting worse by the second. Every day we hear about someone else who might lose his job or even his house. Our country is engaged in a war in the Middle East, and it is common to open a newspaper to find that some of our soldiers were killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Earthquakes or famines are happening all over the world, and some disasters are way too close to home. With the aging Baby Boomers, many people are forced to make decisions about the health and welfare of their frail parents. Many say that Social Security is in jeopardy, stocks are down, and people are uptight about everything from global war to global warming. Then there are the personal issues. So-and-so needs a surgery. Surprise! You’re pregnant, at just the worst time. Little Junior is getting a bad grade in Algebra. The lawnmower broke, and the dog threw up on the carpet. A million worries, a million torments. If sometimes we aren’t terrified just as Saul was, we aren’t paying attention.
So, where should we turn? Obviously, the Bible is the first place Christians should turn, because it is a book that brings comfort to the disturbed (and it also can disturb the comfortable, but that’s for another time). And, from reading the passage above (1 Samuel 16:14-23), we learn that music, and perhaps all the arts, have a way of bringing comfort to a disturbed soul. Read the following passages and think about how art can bring comfort to you and others who are depressed.
Job 35:9-15 (New Living Translation)
“People cry out when they are oppressed.
They groan beneath the power of the mighty.
Yet they don’t ask, ‘Where is God my Creator,
the one who gives songs in the night?
Where is the one who makes us smarter than the animals
and wiser than the birds of the sky?’
And when they cry out, God does not answer
because of their pride.
But it is wrong to say God doesn’t listen,
to say the Almighty isn’t concerned.
You say you can’t see him,
but he will bring justice if you will only wait.[a]
You say he does not respond to sinners with anger
and is not greatly concerned about wickedness.[b]
Psalm 42:8 (New Living Translation)
But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life.
Psalm 77:2-6 (The Message)
I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord;
my life was an open wound that wouldn't heal.
When friends said, "Everything will turn out all right,"
I didn't believe a word they said.
I remember God—and shake my head.
I bow my head—then wring my hands.
I'm awake all night—not a wink of sleep;
I can't even say what's bothering me.
I go over the days one by one,
I ponder the years gone by.
I strum my lute all through the night,
wondering how to get my life together.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.¬________________________________________________________________________
Question 1- Has the art you create ever brought comfort to someone, as far as you know? How can your art bring comfort to people who are depressed, worried, perplexed, or otherwise in a dark time? How does “comforting art” look or sound? Happy, thoughtful, relaxing, or what?
Question 2- In some of these verses and passages, the songs are obviously spiritual in nature, either about God or worshipping God. Other passages do not really indicate the nature of the music. What is the responsibility of the Christian, if any, to bring up God in order to comfort someone?
Question 3- Does it comfort you when you create your art? Is it a form of “therapy” that you can use during dark times? Does creating art help you to put your thoughts in order?
Question 4- Often, when times get financially tough, art, concert and theater tickets, art supplies, CDs, etc. are the first things that get cut out of the family budget. School districts do it, too; when times get tight, the first things they ax are the art programs. Is art frivolous and disposable? With the passages above in mind, in what order do you think art should be prioritized in the family budget when times get tough? Do you have certain artistic things that you would give up easily, and others that would not be so easy to cut out?
To read Fine Arts Bible Study #1 click here.
To read Fine Arts Bible Study #2 click here.
To read Fine Arts Bible Study #3 click here.