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David's harp had a significant impact upon the court of King Saul. This gifted composer and musician was able to go beyond what many talented musicians achieve. His music, though undoubtedly entertaining and exhilarating to the senses, possessed a unique and penetrating quality—it touched the innermost being of the listener—it reached into the very spirit of his audience.

Yet what is most striking about David's harp is not merely the influence it had upon human audiences and the human spirit, but that it also had an impact over demonic beings. While the harmonic strains of other musicians might pass through the ears of evil spirits with little effect, David's music proved to be a source of power over them. The Lord demonstrated through this shepherd musician that the skillful application of melody and harmony on a musical instrument can be anointed by the Spirit of God to disperse the oppressive influence of demons.

"The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and an evil spirit from the Lord harassed (terrorized) him. Saul's servants then said to him,

'Behold, now an evil spirit from God is harassing you. Let our lord now command your servants to seek a man who is skillful on the harp. When the evil spirit is upon you then he shall play the harp and you will be well.'

So Saul said to His servants, 'Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.'

Then one of the young men answered and said, 'Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one wise in speech and a handsome man; and the Lord is with him'...

Then David came to Saul and attended him...so that it came about that whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed, and the evil spins would depart from him. (I Samuel 16:14-23)

The Origin Of The Anointing

Young David acquired this quality of musical expression during the years he tended his father's flocks. On the hillsides of Judea he composed and performed for an audience of One. Later, when his musical gift was given a wider public platform in Saul's court, David continued to perform primarily for the same singular audience: "the Shepherd of Israel." It was this characteristic in his heart that allowed his music to possess a "Spirit-breathed" dimension. This trait within young David made it possible for the Spirit of God to rest upon him in strong measure. The anointing of the Lord was upon him as a servant of Jehovah.

Consequently, his musical gift was simply the vehicle through which his spiritual gift could be expressed.

From the human perspective David possessed all the qualities that would make him admired and influential. Yet it should be carefully noted that Saul was also described in similar glowing terms when he was a young man. He also was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be king over Israel. Saul was impressive from the natural standpoint. Samuel himself was swayed by the tall, handsome and seemingly capable man from the tribe of Benjamin. Even the seasoned prophet had much to learn about the true evaluation of a man from God's point of view.

David was a different man. His work in the field of music originated in a heart that sought after the living God. The final phrase of I Samuel 16:18 is the key to understanding the life of this shepherd king musician: THE LORD WAS WITH HIM. While the music of other minstrels might impress and thrill their contemporaries, David's music had the capacity to cut through the soul into the very spirit of a person. The Spirit of God endowed the natural melodies and harmonies rising from David's soul with supernatural capability.

The pleasing sounds rising from his instrument transformed his harp into a strategic weapon of war which drove the enemies of God into agitation and retreat. Why? THE LORD WAS WITH HIM. Remove this characteristic and the same harp and fingers might at best entertain King Saul. Without the anointing of the Spirit the finest music might produce in Saul mere sentimental feelings yet leave the demonic being firmly entrenched.

David's harp served to remind evil spirits of the music they had once known in heaven. It is reasonable to suggest that each demon who came in contact with such music experienced a painful memory of the indescribable and extraordinary music that surrounded the throne of God. What sublime and awe-inspiring music they must have known before they were thrust away from His holy Presence following their rebellion! Undoubtedly the music of these hellbound creatures eventually disintegrated into chaos and distortion. Melody was twisted into turmoil and harmony degenerated into discord. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that when demons hear music anointed by the Spirit of God, whether instrumental or vocal, they are driven to dis- traction and confusion not to mention a profound sense of regret over the memory of their former habitation.

Much has been written and taught in recent years concerning the power of vocal praise as a vital weapon of spiritual warfare. However, little has been said about the strategic role instrumental music can play in warfare, worship and intercession. It is interesting to note that David's vocal compositions (the Psalms) are not mentioned in the passage pertaining to the demonic harassment of King Saul. Only David's instrumental music is indicated. Though it is safe to assume that he also sang his Psalms in the royal court, what is striking about the passage is that only his harp is mentioned.

Instrumental music has the potential to powerfully affect the spiritual realm in which we live. Melody and harmony are capable of taking dominion over disorder and discord in the auditory dimension even as light overcomes darkness in the visual dimension. Herein lies a profound spiritual truth.

Many Christians have discovered the benefits of playing music tapes of instrumental and vocal praise in their automobiles, homes and offices. Such music is uplifting and can soothe the atmosphere with peace and joy. The fruit of the Holy Spirit can flourish in those circumstances. Anointed music creates an environment for Satan that is similar to a "pressure cooker." Consequently, he is agitated by the "heat" and his relentless efforts to induce oppression are diminished. The objective is to coerce the demons to depart; even if only for a season.

Performance And Worship

The Spirit of God is seeking to train His musicians to discern the subtle difference between the performance mode and the worship mode. Both modes have a legitimate place within the work of the Kingdom. This realization, however, must take place first in the musician's heart before it can be manifested through his instrument or voice. In the performance mode the artist entertains and communicates primarily to a human audience. In the worship mode the artist/musician ministers primarily unto the Lord and draws the human audience along with him. In the performance mode the attention will tend to be drawn to the artist, his music and his message. In the worship mode the attention must be drawn to the Lord. In a sense, a worship leader seeks to disappear so that a greater One may appear.

Performance and worship are not watertight categories. It is possible for true worship to be entertaining (when properly understood) and yet remain pleasing to God. It is also true that the anointed entertainer can present a worshipful and prophetic performance. However, it is inappropriate for any of the Lord's musicians to deliberately draw attention to themselves whether performing or leading worship. Even the most undiscerning audience can detect an inflated ego on stage! Attention must be given to motives, attitudes, body language, displays of instrumental technique and use of the voice. The servant must decrease so that the Lord may increase in the eyes of those watching.

Yet, humility for a musician does not imply dullness. Bland and tasteless music does not reflect the life-giving creativity of our God. We are commanded to "play skillfully" upon our instruments. This implies practice, preparation and enhancement of our musical gift through disciplined effort. The musician who brings the greatest glory to God is one who has prepared both his heart and his talent to the best of his ability. The Spirit Himself will gladly impart wisdom to such a servant so as to make discerning use of his skill.

Prayer And The Prophetic

Instrumental music can also influence intercessory prayer. Not only can it be used to provide accompaniment to intercession but can actually be transformed into intercession itself in the hands of a musician led by the Spirit of God. Even as the "Spirit Himself intercedes for [in] us with groans that words cannot express" (Romans 8:26), it seems reasonable to suggest that melody and harmony can also be mediums of expression that the Spirit will also facilitate. Furthermore, the instrumentalist can be utilized by the Spirit for the release of the prophetic word. When the kings of Judah and Israel sought the word of the Lord from Elisha, he called for a musician. As the strains of the minstrel's harp filled the air, "the hand of the Lord came upon Elisa" (II Kings 3:15). Thus the prophet was enabled to hear and deliver a message from God. Such music clears the channel between heaven and earth. It is not difficult to imagine David praying, worshipping and prophesying as he played the harp. One of the sons of Korah wrote: "My mouth will speak words of wisdom and the utterance of my heart will give understanding. I will turn my ear to a proverb; with the harp I will express my riddle" (Psalm 49:3,4).

David's music possessed healing properties because the Healer was with him. I Samuel 16:23 states that Saul was not only refreshed by David's harp but was also "made well." Many musicians are capable of "moving" their listeners. But not all musicians know how to release substantial and eternal transformation into the lives of their audience under the power of the Spirit.

There is a crucial need in the contemporary Christian music scene for men and women with the heart of David to rise up. The heartcry of such musicians will be expressed in David's own words: "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek Him in His temple" (Psalm 27:4). The truly prophetic musician not only seeks the face of God as his highest calling but also allows his music to be hammered into shape on the anvil of God's purifying Presence! It is in the secret chamber of intimate fellowship with the Master Musician that instruments and voices are brandished into swords that cut through superficial expressions of music. Furthermore, authentic creativity springs to life from the frequent and secluded activity of meditation upon the creative Word.

Is such an anointing available for today's musician? Can there be a release of divine power through our melodies and harmonies that would take authority over demonic oppression and release intercession, worship and the prophetic word? Can we have the same results as David? Yes! The story about the shepherd musician was recorded in the Scripture as an example for us. David stands as the prototype for the contemporary servant musician. The primary qualification has never changed: THE LORD WAS WITH HIM!



John Elliott is a singer, songwriter, and producer who resides in Nashville, TN. Two of his most recent releases are "Let All The Thirsty Come," and "Piano Peace."

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