The Shepherd King, Pt. 2 - Spirit-Filled Music

Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:1-23
Date: 01/21/2017 
Music does have a power and it can draw, it can repel, it can inspire in good ways and bad.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

I want to welcome everybody again and wish you greetings and a blessed Sabbath. We are very thankful for any visitors that may be here today with the Granite Bay Congregation. You will notice that things look a little different in the background. That’s because we are in the infancy of a series called the Shepherd King, Lessons from the Life of David. And today’s presentation will be the second installment talking about Spirit-Filled Music.

I remember reading about George Frederick Handel, the composer of that famous song, the Messiah, and many others. He was just a very talented organist. One day when he was visiting a church in another city, at the conclusion of the sermon, the organist used to do what they call ‘play the people out.’ And we call it a postlude. And he went over to the organist and he said do you mind if I play the people out? He said, oh, please. It’s customary, a visiting organist, be happy to.

Well, he sat down and he began to play and as the ushers went up to the aisle to ush people out, nobody got up because the music was just so mesmerizing and so enchanting and so thrilling that they all stayed there. He played on for quite a while and then eventually the local organist either got hungry or he got jealous and he said, well, I don’t think you’re going to do a very good job of playing them out, maybe I should take over. Absolutely, and he handed back the organ and as soon as he started playing, the people got up and left.

Music does have a power and it can draw, it can repel, it can inspire in good ways and bad. And in our second presentation today talking about David, I want to take you back to 1 Samuel 16 and we’re going to be talking about the last few verses in that chapter about the power of music. It also gives us some insights on what it means to be spirit-filled and, heaven forbid, to grieve away the spirit.

Karen is going to stop me because she says my chapstick in my front pocket is distracting. Okay. I want to do a survey. Did anybody else, raise your hand, if anyone here noticed the chapstick in my front pocket? You are all excommunicated, those of you who raised your hands. All right. Husbands loves your wives, even as Christ loves the church.

Okay. Where was I? Oh, we were at the beginning. So go with me to 1 Samuel 16 and we’re going to go back to verse 13. Do you remember in our last presentation, we were talking about David being anointed as king and Samuel made that special clandestine visit there to Bethlehem to anoint David as king while there’s still a king on the throne, who by the way, also had been chosen by God and filled by the spirit of God several years earlier.

And so it says here, after he took the oil, again 1 Samuel 16:13, “Samuel took the horn of oil. He anointed him in the midst of his brothers and the spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.” So Samuel arose and he went to Rama. He said I’ve got to get out of here because it could be viewed as treason to anoint another king while there’s a sitting king on the throne.

But notice verse 14, it says the Holy Spirit comes on David, “But the spirit of the Lord department from Saul and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him.” Now, this is a very important verse. David is spirit-filled, but then it says the spirit departed from Saul.

And that manifested itself a number of ways. You can read, for instance in the writings of Josephus. He was a Jewish historian and he said he represented that Saul became demon-possessed at this point. He was almost suffocated and strangled, as well as distracted at his councils. He became weak and foolish. He lost courage and greatness of mind. He was timorous, meaning fearful and alarmed by everything and he was full of envy and suspicious, rage and despair.

As you read out in the remaining chapters of 1 Samuel, you see that a lot of that proved to be true. How sad to have the words written, the spirit departed.

That tells us that God can give his spirit to somebody and he can take it away. That’s a very important point, because you know there’s a good segment of dear Christians that believe that once you are saved and spirit-filled, you cannot be lost. The bible does not teach that. The bible teaches that the Holy Spirit can be grieved and these words are in the sacred record as a warning for all of us so that we will know that we need to guard against grieving the spirit and do everything in our lives to embrace and to welcome the spirit to be in our lives.

Again, it says in Ephesians 4:30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you are sealed for the Day of Redemption.” Now, the only reason Paul would say do not grieve the Holy Spirit is because the Holy Spirit can be grieved. And when you completely and finally grieve the spirit away, then you’ve done what is defined as committing the unpardonable sin.

Now, I don’t believe Saul had done that yet. It is possible to grieve away the spirit or to grieve the Holy Spirit. It is possible to be even spirit demon possessed and not be finally lost. Didn’t Jesus save people that seemed utterly demon possessed?

You know the story about the demoniac there by the Sea of Galilee that ran around naked dragging broken chains and cutting himself and crying and living pigs and living in a cemetery. That guy was pretty far gone and Jesus saved him and turned him into an evangelist. Mary Magdalene had seven devils cast out of her. And so there are people who like the prodigal, they knew God. They were in the Father’s house, they wandered away. They end up in the pig pen and they can be saved again. But there is a point of no return.

And before the story is over, I’m sad to say what you already know, Saul ultimately does reach the point of no return. But I don’t think he was there yet. But it is a scary thing to think that you could grieve away the spirit and it’s possible to do it and not know it.

You read for instance the story of Samson. Judges 16:19, a very famous passage, “She, Delilah, lulled him to sleep on her knees and she called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. The she began to torment him and his strength left him.” Remember it was the spirit of the Lord that came on Samson, gave him that supernatural strength. “And she said as a test, the Philistines are on you, Samson.” So he awoke from his sleep and said, I’ll go out other times and I’ll shake myself free with his supernatural strength.” And this is the verses that you shouldn’t miss. “But he did not know the Lord had departed from him.” There are those words again. What happened after the Holy Spirit came on David, it says, but the spirit departed from Saul.

I don’t know if that frightens you, friends, but it frightens me. The thought makes me shudder that I might grieve away the spirit and not know it. You wonder. Saul continued as king for years. Is it possible for people to go through all kinds of religious ceremonies and rituals and not even know they’re doing it without the Holy Spirit? Saul continued in the office as king. And the priests that condemned and crucified Jesus continued with all the rituals of religion devoid of the spirit.

I read a quote once that probably 80 percent of what happens in churches happen without the spirit’s involvement. So all kinds of things that can go on that the Holy Spirit is not doing. That’s why David, when he prayed, David knew what had happened to Saul.

Psalm 51, when David sinned with Bathsheba, you know what his big fear was? He said, “Do not cast me away from your presence and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.

I want to direct you to 1 Chronicles 17:13, Nathan comes to talk to David. He’s talking about your son is going to build a temple, Solomon. And this is what Nathan says. “I will be his father,” speaking of Solomon, “He will be my son and I will not take my mercy away from him as I took it from him who is before you. Who is that? Saul. Nathan is telling David, God is telling David through Nathan. I am going to be with your son until he finishes his house. I will not take my spirit from him, my mercy from him, as my I did from him who is before you.

So the spirit of the Lord, mercy of God, the grace of God was taken from Saul and it left him in shatters. Now, are there others in the bible that had that experience? Was Belem a spirit-filled prophet? Was he? But at one point he was, but he began to covet the rewards of Balak, the king of the Moabites, and he eventually grieved away the spirit and he was killed by Israel in a battle. The bible talks a lot about Belem.

What about Judas? You know, the bible says Jesus sent out the 12 apostles preaching and teaching. While he was still alive, Jesus sent them on missionary endeavors. They came back and said, praise the Lord, even the devils are subject to us. Don’t think for a moment that Judas wasn’t inspired in moments. But you know what you read in the bible. At one point, the Holy Spirit left Judas and he committed the unpardonable sin.

You can also read about Dimas in the New Testament. Paul said Dimas has forsaken me having loved this present world. And so I’m not saying that to frighten you. It’s just really an important warning that we ought to be aware that, yes, once you are saved, you can be spirit-filled, you can be saved, but that relationship with God and the Holy Spirit must be nurtured. If you persist in rebellion, what happened to Saul can happen to you. What happened to Samson and Belem and Judas can happen to you. Now, Samson, he repented at the end. Saul did not.

Now, this then begs another important question. The wording here that you find is a little bit concerning for some people. You notice what it says in verse 14. It says, “The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him.” A distressing spirit from the Lord? Does God send evil spirits? This is a passage that often makes people wonder. Well, some of this actually just comes from the way the Old Testament and the Hebrews understood that God is all-sovereign and He is. And so the devil can’t do anything without the Lord at least loosening his leash. He has to give him permission.

As in the story of Job, it says God said to the devil, it was the devil that harassed Job, not the Lord. But God had to say, all right, I’m going to give you a certain amount of liberty, but there’s limits.

That reminds me of the verse that you find where Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10, “God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted what you are able. God must allow limits on temptation, but does God tempt? No.

I want to read another verse. James 1:13, “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” So is that clear? God doesn’t tempt anyone and God will measure, He will make sure that the devil is not allowed to tempt you above what you are able, so don’t ever say, oh, Lord, I gave in because I just couldn’t help it. Yes, you can. Because God promises that He is not going to tempt you above what you are able to resist with His power. Amen? If you’ll access the power that He makes available.

So you can also see another example when all these false prophets had gathered before King Jehoshua, Fab and Ahab and Micaiah the Prophet said in 1 Kings 22:23, “Look, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours. And the Lord has declared disaster against you. The Lord put a lying spirit? Now, when you read the whole story, it says that God allowed these spirits to go to Ahab and deceive him. God didn’t send the spirits. The spirits went on their own volition. God is always protecting us. God has a hedge about us. But sometimes there’s a break in the hedge if we reject God.

Let me give you one more verse, just to tie that off. I want to make sure everyone is clear on this. 2 Thessalonians 2:9, “The coming of the lawless one, according to the working of Satan with all power, signs and lying wonders.” That’s that lying spirit. It says, “Three unclean spirits like devils go forth to the kings of the earth to deceive. And with all unrighteousness and deception among them who perish,” why, here’s the part, “because they did not receive a love of the truth that they might be saved for this reason God will send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie and they all might be condemned who did not believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

Do you see how it works? God gives you the Holy Spirit, welcome, nurture the Holy Spirit. Reject the Holy Spirit, there is a vacuum that the devil will fill. If it rains on good soil, something is going to grow. If don’t nurture what grows, you’re going to get weeds. But something is going to grow. Your heart is not a vacuum and if you don’t have God and His spirit inside, there’s only one other alternative.

You remember the story where Jesus this man had the evil spirits cast out, but he did not replace it with anything good and the evil spirit came back and said, look, my house is empty. It’s swept and vacuumed. He brought seven other spirits worse than the first. And so it’s not neutral. There’s no Switzerland in this battle between good and evil that you can say, I’m going to sit on the sidelines, I don’t want to be involved. Jesus said, if you’re not with me, you’re against me.

And so when the spirit of the Lord left Saul, what’s left? If darkness should leave this room, what happens? I’m sorry. If light leaves this room, darkness comes in. And if you want to get the darkness out, you don’t use a snow shovel. You simply bring in the light. The darkness goes out. And our hearts are something like that. They’re never just neutral.

So as a result of this, Saul is terribly troubled. I agree with what Josephus said that he became jealous, he became raging. One reason Samuel had gone to King Saul and said, because of your unfaithfulness, I’m taking the kingdom from you and from your dynasty and I’m going to give it to your neighbor who is better than you. The Lord has sought out a man whose heart is after his own heart.

Now, what is Saul thinking? Somewhere out there in my kingdom is my replacement. He was brooding and he was jealous. Instead of repenting and humbling himself, he tried to stop it from happening. He was fretful and he just had totally the wrong attitude. He was blaming God and saying this isn’t fair and it’s my prerogative to be king. Who knows what he was thinking, but an evil spirit had come into his mind.

It might not have been all physical. Sometimes circumstances can try upon, even stresses and different things. It may not have been all spiritual, but it’s like there’s this old proverb, “Satan likes to fish in troubled waters.” Saul had become so troubled by these things that it gave the devil an advantage. And so some demonic harassment takes advantage of physical weakness. That’s very important. Did you catch that? There are people who are harassed by the devil and the devil makes the most of what may be physical or mental weaknesses to take advantage. Is that true? I believe so.

So what’s the fallout from this? His servants see that Saul was brooding and he’s difficult and he’s unhappy and he goes into fits and it seems like he’s lost his confidence. He’s lost his courage. And it says in verse 18, “Then one of his servants answered and said, look, I’ve seen a son of Jesse, the Bethlehemite,” look at the irony of God, “who is skillful in playing,” this is the first reference we hear that he’s skillful in playing, in particular, the harp. We’ve got a beautiful example of an ancient harp up here. “One of the sons of Jesse, skillful in playing,” now listen to this, what a wonderful recommendation is given here, “A might man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, a handsome person, and the Lord is with him.” Wow. How would you like to have a recommendation like that. He’s talented, brave, patriotic.

Matter of fact, I heard one pastor’s son, but at this way he talks about his person, his pastime, music, his patriotism, he’s from Bethlehem, his piety, his power. Talks about all this in one verse about David.

Now, even though David is keeping sheep, you’ll notice, we don’t know how much time passed between the spirit filling David and evil spirit filling Saul. Months, maybe even years went by. David just stayed with the sheep and waited on God’s timing. Sometime during the course and while David’s taking care of the sheep, a bear comes, a lion comes. We’ll talk about that more next week. Word got out, this is a brave young man.

Now, I know some of you are wondering, you know that song, only a boy named David. And how many of you have seen illustrations of David and Goliath where, you know, it looks like David is about eight years old. That’s great for teaching Sabbath school, but it’s not accurate.

See, in the Hebrew law, you could not be a soldier, couldn’t even be a soldier until you were 20. In a lot of countries, they need all the military they can get and they say 18. The more desperate they get during the civil war, there were 14-year-olds that went out there. When Hitler’s forces were just disseminated, they had Hitler youth and Hitler was sending out 12-year-olds to fight and defend the homeland. And they kept lowering the age. But, you know, God realized that you’ve got to have a little bit of fuzz on your chin before you can go, you know, and be part of the soldier, the army.

And so David wasn’t quite 20 yet, but he wasn’t 12. There’s a lot debate when you look at how long Saul reigned, how old Samuel was. It tells us David was 30 when he began to reign and do you some of the math. And I don’t have time to map that all out for you, but I think the evidence is pretty good that David was probably somewhere between 17 and 19 at this point. And he ran from Saul for several years and he finally gets coroneted when he’s 30. But David had already demonstrated some valor and it says he’s a mighty man. You know, he was at the verge of where he’s being called a man. But he wasn’t a little boy at this point.

So it tells us that he was talented, he was musical and he didn’t just have the ability to play music. It says he’s skillful. Now, everybody loves music and we’re going to spend some time talking about music. And just wondering, how many of you out there play an instrument? Let me see your hands. How many of you like to sing? How many of you like to sing, but you don’t sing very well?

Heard about this lady for her daughter’s birthday, she bought her piano lessons. A few days later her friend came over and said how are your daughter’s lessons going? She said, well, I bought her a clarinet. She said, well, I thought she was doing okay with the piano. She said she was, but she can’t sing with the clarinet. She had the gift of piano, but not singing.

So, he says, all right, let’s send for David. And so listen to what happens next here. 1 Samuel 16, “Therefore, Saul sent messengers to Jesse,” now, did Jesse know about David being anointed king? He did, because Samuel had to come and get his permission, gather all his kids. And it says in the midst of his brethren, he was anointed. The brothers knew, the father knew, the immediate family. And they probably had to keep that real low key because it’s a threat to the kingdom.

And then all of a sudden that messenger comes from the palace. Send me David. Now, if you’re Jesse, would you be nervous? Uh-oh, did somebody leak some information? How did he find out about David? Is he going to be executed? And so Jesse is a little worried. It says, “Send me your son.” When someone says give me your son to a father, especially a king that’s not balanced. Did our Father send his son into a world that is ruled by a king that is not balanced? Jesus is the son of David, isn’t he? “Send me your son, David, who is with the sheep.”

Do you know how often we notice that David is with the sheep? He keeps going back and taking care of sheep. I count at least three times that says David went back to his sheep. He took care of the sheep. He was a good shepherd. Jesus calls himself the good shepherd and as we go through our serious on David, I’m going to often highlight the parallels between David and Jesus, the son of David.

He said, “Send me David,” and when Jesse hears that, he said, oh, I better send a gift. In case he’s heard something, I want to. And it says, “Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and he sent them they his son, David, to Saul.” So here David comes and he’s got bread and wine and a sacrifice.

You know what was at the last supper? Jesus said there’s bread. When they finished the Passover, the sacrifice, and there was the grape juice there, the wine. And so here’s David, the son of Jesse, and he’s coming and he’s bringing these offerings to the palace.

Now, the irony, I just have to stop and the reason the story of David is so great, it’s like the story of Joseph. It’s like the last thing you’d expect. He comes to Bethlehem to anoint a king and the last one they would expect is the one that is chosen. And then, the irony that Saul needs to find somebody to help him with his mental distress and of all the people in the kingdom who he might have called upon that had PhDs that could counsel him or skilled musicians that could play for him, guess who gets invited to the palace? God’s providence is amazing, isn’t it, how he works things out? And so David is called, of all people. Now, David must be tip-toeing in and he must have been very cautious and very careful.

Something I don’t want to rush past, when you look at the recommendation that’s given earlier where it talks about David, not only did it say that he was a man or war, prudent in speech, you think of a shepherd boy being articulate and choosing his words carefully and having a good vocabulary, usually you don’t think of a shepherd that way, right? You usually think of a Shepherd as being uneducated and not very articulate. But just because you were a shepherd back then, as I mentioned, and they may have been a poor family, but Jesse was a leader in the community. They read the scriptures in their family. They communicated well. You look at the Psalms that David writes and you find out that he was a poet. He a tremendous grasp of language. He communicated and he articulated himself beautifully.

And so they said, there’s a young man. He has an incredible gift of speech. And it also says he’s a good-looking young man. Because, you know, it was typical in ancient kingdoms that they bring into their palace people that look good. And I know today we would call that discrimination. But, if you want to know the truth, they did it. When kings and queens brought different couriers and people into their palaces, they said they would look good in their palace. They wanted the best people. Because other dignitaries would come and they’d say, wow.

Like when the Queen of Sheba came to Solomon and she said she when saw his servants and their clothing, she was breath-taken. She was breathless, as the way it translates. No more spirit left in her. And so they used to want to bring the good-looking people and people that could communicate in the palace that would not embarrass the crown. And so they also recommended David that way.

So David comes to Saul. He brings this gift and then in the palace, you read 1 Samuel 16:21, “So David came to Saul and he stood before him. He, Saul, loved him greatly.” Saul looked at him and I don’t think he spent a lot of time talking to him, as you’ll see later. But he looked at him and said, what a fine-looking young man. And he heard him talk and said, hey, he’s a very articulate young man. He seems wise. He seems to conduct himself well. And most importantly, he could play. And it says, finally when he saw him and maybe he heard him audition, he sends a message back to Jesse, please let David stand before me for he has found favor in my sight.

Now, here, it’s so amazing. Saul, when he’d have his fits of rage, he was looking out there, scanning the horizon, wondering who out there in the Kingdom was the one that was going to replace him. He said, oh, man, this is starting to bother me. David, play something. And the boy, the shepherd boy, who’s come to play the harp for him, last person in the world that Saul, at first, thought might be the one that was going to be his replacement, he invites him to the palace.

Isn’t it amazing how God works? Saul would be pacing back and forth, looking out his window, he’d be wondering, looking at all the dignitaries and the warriors and wondering who was going to replace him as king and it started bothering him. He’d say, oh, man, I’m just stressed by this spirit and I’m depressed. Bring in David, have him play for me, and there he was, the one that was going to replace him. It was the musician. I don’t know, is it just me or is that irony amazing?

So David came and stood before him. And then I want to spend some time on the last verse here or one of the last verses. 1 Samuel 16:14-23, “And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul,” he’s talking about this evil spirit that would come because God had given permission. He was his protection and the evil spirits would make the most of Saul’s jealousy and his insecurities that he’d begin to brood and become depressed and he couldn’t get anything done and he’d want to go fight these battles and he’d just sit there and play darts with this spear. “David would take a harp and he’d play with his hand and Saul would become refreshed and well and the distressing spirit would depart from him.”

You know, David is described as the sweet Psalmist of Israel. Not only could David play, but David could play and sing. I used to tell Steven when he was taking piano lessons, I’d say, you know, I wish you’d also take up the guitar because you sing beautifully and you can’t carry your piano with you. Sorry, Michelle, I like the guitar. And you can’t carry your piano around with you everywhere. And it’s kind of interesting. Nathan took guitar lessons, but now he’s taking piano. And the last time you saw Steven, Steven’s picking up the guitar. We’re lucky because both of our boys are good-looking and they can sing and play and they are single, if you want to know. Single bachelors out there.

So David could sing, but what was it that he did so that he’s singing, the evil spirits are driven from Saul or at least he’s alleviated. Wouldn’t you like to hear? You know, you’ve got 150 Psalms of David, so you can read them. But these are the words and there was music that went with them and there were interludes.

Sometimes when you’re reading in the Psalms, you’ll notice you’ll run into the word selah, right? Do you know what that means? It basically means think on this and they believe that those were scattered throughout the Psalms of David or the Psalms of Asaph and that mean meditation. Think about this. And that means that there was a pause. It was like a musical interlude at that point. The problem was, they didn’t know how to write music the way it was developed in the 15th, 16th century with all the notes and dots. I don’t know exactly when they developed that, but to put music down.

When the Jews were conquered and scattered, a lot of those melodies were lost. There may be a few songs that the Hebrews sing today that the melodies go all the way back to the time of David. But there’s not many. So we don’t really know, but wouldn’t you like to hear? Wouldn’t be fun to get to heaven and say I’d like to get David’s CD. I want to hear David play the music that could drive the evil spirits from Saul. Wouldn’t you like to have just that kind of music?

Now, if it’s possible to have good Godly music that would drive away evil spirits, is it a stretch to believe that there’s also very bad music that will invite evil spirits? You’d be surprised. There’s a lot of people that think music is neutral and that it doesn’t matter. You know, there’s good music, but it’s whatever it feels like to you. And if it blesses you, then it must be good.

I respectfully disagree. I think music is like theology. Music is a vibration. It communicates just like the words I’m speaking communicate. Different kinds of music communicate different kinds of thoughts and feelings. And there is good music and there is bad music.

I’m just wondering, how many of you agree that there’s music from God. Do you believe there’s music from the devil? We all agree so far, but do you know where the difference would come, if I said all right, I want you to show me where to draw the line between the two. You’d be surprised how many Christians out there are struggling to live Godly lives while they’re listening to diabolical music and they don’t realize there’s a connection. I’ve heard some very interesting testimonies of people that say, you know, I’ve tried to be a Christian for years and finally I became convicted. If I could get rid of my rock-and-roll library, I know it’s a struggle, because they were addicted. And they did and the Holy Spirit came into their lives. They never really had made the connection.

Now, I’m giving you, you know, radical examples here, but there’s a lot of nuances in between and even as I share this with you, I need to tell you, I feel a little insecure because I’m not training in music. I mean, my mother was a songwriter and we had great composers in our house. Some of them were winners of Tony Awards on Broadway, so we heard just incredible music. Not all of it Godly. Very talented. Some was good, some was bad. You know, you could have good music and bad words. You can have some bad words and good music.

As a matter of fact, I’ve heard some songs out there that just outstanding music, but the words were awful. And some people think, well, that sanctifies the message. You can’t have both together. And I’ve heard some rock-and-roll music and they’re howling, they’re jumping up and down, they’re cracking their guitars over each other’s head and they just say the name Jesus in spirit every time and it’s supposed to be Christian music.

You know, I’m exaggerating a little bit, but there’s a lot of people that say we’ve got to give them the music of the world and we’ll put some Christian’s words in to create a bridge to bring the young people into the church. And so you’ve got these ostensible Christian groups that go out there and they play this Christian rock to create a bridge to bring the young people into the church. But you know what happens. The kids that grow up in the church hear that and it creates a bridge that leads him out. That bridge goes both ways. I’m not even sure it goes the right way. Ask me how I feel.

But I grew up listening to the music of the world, but I saw what it did to me and what it does to me. I still hear it. Walking through the market. I like going to Chipotle and every now and then I’ll take a phone call while I’m there and the music is awful. And more than once, I’ve had to go up and ask them, I say, you know, I like your food, but I don’t care for your music. Can you just turn that down a little bit? You don’t have to turn it off, just turn it down. I can’t even talk. Someone will call me and they’ll hear it and they’ll go, Pastor Doug, where are you? Now I’m self-conscious, you know. I’ll pick up the phone and go, look, I can’t help it, I’m in the mall or wherever it is, you know. But we’re surrounded with it.

And the reason I said what I said is I’d be lying to you if I acted like none of it attracts me. It does. The devil doesn’t use bait that doesn’t work. All of us have something within us and that music pulls different parts of our hearts. And so we just need to know that even though I might like it and it might be attractive, there’s a lot of sweets and things that I know I like the taste of, but I don’t like what it does to me. It’s that way with music. There’s music out there that’s not neutral. You can’t listen indiscriminately to anything that’s out there and say this is not affecting me spiritually, because it does. For good or for bad. And so you need to be very careful what you listen to.

David played and the devil left and there’s a lot of music that Christians play today and the devil comes in. And the sad thing is we do it deliberately. We don’t even make the connection. I’ve heard some people say, well, David was a shepherd and so he probably played country music. So country is okay, right? I’m sure there is some country music that’s okay. But I can tell you a lot of that music is talking about who’s cheating on who and, you know, you need to know when to fold them and hold them and she left me and I’ve got a pregnant cat and all these things are going wrong. It’s just depressing.

I really have heard some of the folksy people in the church, they’ll say, yeah, that wicked rock-and-roll music. A boy asked his dad one day, had you ever heard rock-and-roll when you were young? He said, yeah, one time, a truckload of ducks collided with a truck of empty milk cans. That was the closest thing I came to hearing rock-and-roll. So the thing is, rock-and-roll is wicked, but country music, you know.

In almost every category there’s -- well, let me say this differently. Some people will say, well, every culture has different music. We say it’s just a cultural thing. In our culture, it’s rock. We come from a rock culture and you old fogeys, in your generation, you don’t appreciate rock music and insist that it’s not a cultural thing. I’ve been all over the world. Every country I’ve been in, the principles of music are the same. In any country I’ve been in, when mothers went to put their babies to sleep and they sing a lullaby, lullabies will all have the same principle. None of them play a screaming electric guitar with loud drums to try to put the kid to sleep. It would make the kid neurotic.

They found even plants respond to music differently. Do you know that? I just saw a study within a month, not a Christian study, that came and said they’re showing that certain kind of music and things, like classical music, that plants are more productive. And they said, well, it may not have to do with it. It just might be that the vibrations are helping.

But animals respond to music. I was even watching as our sister was playing the flute, her dog. That was beautiful music, by the way. I sure appreciated that. But there’s something within us, these vibrations affect us.

When soldiers go to war, there’s a music for war. They don’t sing as they’re marching, not lullaby music. That’s when you want your war music. No, I’m not going to sing that, no. And then there’s romantic music. I think that’s true. I think there’s good romantic music. There’s a lot of songs, right? Isn’t there a book in the bible called the Song of Solomon? And so that’s appropriate, within the context of an appropriate relationship, romantic music.

But you don’t sing marching music if you invite your fiancé over and you’re going to have dinner and say, could I put on a little music to set the mood? Sure, please do that. And you play marching music. So when people say, oh, that’s a cultural thing, war music, romantic music, lullabies, these different music principles are the same in every culture. There will be cultural differences, but they fall within the principles. So there are Christian principles for music that we need to understand.

Martin Luther, he believed very strongly about the importance of music. Luther said, “The devil takes flight at the sound of music,” speaking of Christian music, “as he does at the words of theology. For this reason, the prophets often combine theology and music, teaching of the truth, enchanting of the songs and hymns.”

As a matter of fact, you look at some of the old songs and the old hymns and they had profound, almost like a sermon, in the hymn. The idea was the music was there to enhance the words, to teach and to reinforce the truth.

Have any of you ever read the Song of Moses? It’s like 33 versus. I’d love to hear the music that went with that. But he was teaching them about following God and their journeys. That’s quite a song.

I’ve got a friend whose family was from the Reform Church in Finland and he said, oh, yeah, in our family, they would sing a song 25 minutes, one song. I said, was it the same words over? No, no, no two words were the same. They would have this sermon that they’d put to music there in Finland and they would sing these sermons. They don’t have to be long. You do have Psalm 117. It’s one of the shortest chapters in the bible, but it’s right next to Psalm 119. I’d love to preach on that someday, but that’s a long chapter.

And then, while I’m on the subject of length and the number of words, I should probably talk about some of the popular contemporary songs that we often call them praise songs. That doesn’t mean that I believe that all praise songs are bad. I think there’s an appropriate time for simple praise songs. Just some very simple songs we teach the children that have very simple words and that’s wonderful.

But the theology is not what it used to be in some of the old songs. You’ve probably heard the expression 7-Eleven songs. That’s because they sing the same seven words eleven times, just over and over. I get kind of irritated. I like lyrics and so I like words that mean something. So many of them just sound like love songs and a lot of just over and over, oh, Jesus, you’re so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, oh, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. And I don’t mean to be sacrilegious, but teach me something. Lift me through the words.

The reason for this music is theology and when David would play on his harp, I can’t help but wonder if he wouldn’t also sing some truths of God. Where do you think David got his ideas for his songs? David comes from the pasture to the palace and he is a magnificent musician and he has composed a lot of songs already, I think. He was out there surrounded by the things that God made and he would see the mountains and he would see the majestic sunsets and he’d see the stars at night.

You’ve read the Psalms where it talks about when I considered the heavens and the things that your hands have made, what is man that you are mindful of him or the Son of Man that you visit him. As the sun goes forth in its strength, he talks about the sunrise. As the dew upon the grass, he talks about the grass. Read Psalm 23, “You lead me beside the still waters.” So many of David’s Psalms were obviously influenced by the things that God made. And so the purpose of the music was to glorify God. But music is not a neutral medium.

J.S. Bach said all music should have no other end and aim than to the glory of God and for the soul’s refreshment. Were this not remembered, there is no real music, only a devilish hub bub.” That’s what Bach said. Something else you may or may not know, every composition by Bach began with a J.J. at the top left and that meant it was Jesu Juva, which meant Jesus help me. And he ended every composition with S.D.G. and that meant Soli Deo Gloria, to Gods alone be the praise. Every composition, the start and the beginning, the sought as a divine opportunity.

Martin Luther said after theology, I give the highest place and greatest honor to music. As a matter of fact, one of the things that sent the Protestant Reformation going is Luther not only translated the bible, he wrote a hymn book. They had new songs to sing because you realize at the time of Luther, all the monasteries, they all would come into the church and they’d chant in Latin and it was almost hypnotic. And again, I’ve got to illustrate because we’re thinking about audio things, so I’m not trying to be funny. But have you ever heard some of these monastic chants? Some of them are very pleasant. You get all these voices together. But often it sounds like [sings], but when I came into the church, I kind of come of Eastern Mysticism, went through all these Eastern religions and they’d all get together and they’d do all these mystical chants. They’d kind of make these off tones, almost like spa music that’s supposed to put you in a hypnotic trance. And then all of a sudden, the people couldn’t sing. They didn’t know Latin.

Luther gives them a book and the songs and that’s why he would take some of the great music, you know that song, All Mighty Fortress, that was a melody the people sang, sometimes even in the bars. It was a great melody. And Luther said there is nothing wrong with the melody. The words are terrible. I’m going to put new words to that great melody. And all of a sudden they were singing songs like that and everybody was singing the song.

Who was it that said, here we go, Confucius, of all the people I might quote, “If one should desire to know whether a kingdom is well-governed or if its morals are good or bad, the quality of its music will give you the answer.” What does that bode for us as a nation?

Andrew Fletcher said, “I knew a very wise man who believed that if a man were permitted to take all the ballads he needed, not care who should make the laws of the nation, if he could write the ballads, the songs.”

Plato said, “Give me the music of a nation and I will change the mind of the nation.” Do you think it’s an accident what has happened to music or is the devil trying to do something with the nation? It’s another means of communication that’s very powerful. Something about those vibrations go beyond the part of our brain that processes speech and gets down into our soul.

Have you heard music that will just make you weep? Whenever I’m sad, I sing. That way other people can be sad with me. No, I’m not talking about that kind of weeping from music. I’m talking about you’ve heard music that just moves you to tears and you don’t even know why. I’ve heard music in other countries where I don’t know what they’re saying, but the music is mesmerizing. You know what’s neat about music?

Sometimes there will be a great song, for instance, if I should just hum, [hums] everyone know what that was, even though I don’t sing on key? Did you have the words in your mind? So when you hear the melodies, it brings the words back. And so by combining words, good theology, with these beautiful vibrations, the divine, good music, it inspires towards truth.

We can’t underestimate the power of music, friends, and I just don’t have time to give it the attention it deserves.

In the book Education, page 62, “Music forms a part of God’s worship in the courts above and we should endeavor in our songs of praise to approach as nearly as possible to the harmony of heavenly choirs. It’s our goal here as a church and the pastoral staff, with the music leaders, to say Lord, what is the music, not that the world likes, but what will glorify you? What will please you? I know sometimes we probably miss the mark, but that’s our goal is to be evaluating and studying and it’s worth studying, isn’t it, to know what is truth in His word and what is good when it comes to music.

In 1 Testimonies 497, “Music, when not abused, is a great blessing. But when it is put to a wrong use, it is a terrible curse.” So the purpose of music is to glorify God.

Psalms 71:22, “Also with lute, I will praise you and I will praise you faithfulness, oh, my God. To you I will sing with the heart, oh, holy one of Israel. My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing to you and my soul, which you have redeemed.”

Psalm 57, “I’ll praise you, oh, Lord, among the peoples. I will sing to you among the nations.” So one of the reasons that they would sing their music is not just to teach, it was also an outreach. The heathen will hear. I’ll praise you among the nations. Music is a very powerful tool evangelistically.

Anyway, so back to David. God in his providence, he brings David to the palace and David wasn’t there full time because the king would not make slaves of the people that come to serve him in that way. He said, Jesse, can you send me your son? He will be someone who will serve me, but he’s not a slave. He’s not an indentured slave. He can still go home. Saul did not live in Jerusalem. Saul lived in Gibeah, which is about eight miles north of Bethlehem. So David, when he went to Saul, he went up to Gibeah. That’s where the court was back then. He’d get the message saying you need to come and help the king. He’s having a hard time. And he’d come and he’d spend some time and he’d play in the palace.

And while he was there, this was so providential, not only did it bless Saul, but David, by watching how things were conducted in the palace, by watching as Saul was interacting with leaders from other countries, by watching the intrigue and the jostling, he was on the sidelines in a lot of meetings. Sometimes where are high-level meetings that are happening in the country and the leaders don’t notice the servants. They’re not paying attention to the waiters. They’re not paying attention to the butlers. They’re talking about international intrigue.

David, while he’s in the background, he’s providing background music, he’s brilliant. He’s spiritual, too. He’s taking it all in. God used this providence to prepare him because, let’s face it, there’s a distance between being a shepherd and being a king.

And God said, look, I need to give you a little bit of a learning curve in the palace. I’m going to let you observe what’s happening in the palace and how to conduct yourself. I’m going to let you learn from Saul’s mistakes so you don’t make the same mistakes. He’d often hear people flatter the king so they could get what they want. And it taught David, they’ll tell the king anything to get what they want. And he said I don’t want to be fooled by that. He saw that the king would be so full of himself that he wouldn’t really care about anyone else. He said I want to be a king that really cares about the poor people. He saw the good things that Saul did. He saw the bad things that Saul did. And God was preparing David to be the greatest king of Israel as he sat in the corner and played his harp. Isn’t that amazing?

It also tells you about the power of music. I thought, as we close this out, it would be a good idea for us to sing in a way that would glorify God. One of my favorite songs, number 86, How Great Thou Art. Can you say Amen?

Why don’t we stand together and we’ll sing this. You’re going to think this is terrible, but why don’t we sing the first, second and the last verse. Is that good. Okay, let’s stand together.

Do you remember the memory verse we started with? The young man did a great job reading that. All the musicians sang, they played and the glory of the Lord filled the house so the priests couldn’t even go in. Wouldn’t you like to have that kind of experience that we could rediscover the value of music and just the glory of God? What happened to the temple back then, happens in our body temples with the right kind of music. The glory comes in. Do you want that?

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