Daily Office Readings for Thursday of Proper 9: Year 1
“Now the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. And Saul’s servants said to him, ‘See now, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord now command the servants who attend you to look for someone who is skilful in playing the lyre; and when the evil spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will feel better: (1st Samuel 16: 14 to 16).
Three times the words “evil spirit from God” is written or said. I don’t accept it. Nothing about God is evil. God is love. God is the pure Spirit of Love. This language about and evil spirit from God is used in other places in the Bible. But as praying believers we have every right to object to such language, written or spoken, that we know is not our God. I believe evil is a human construct that happens when we reject the will of God.
I do however, like the insight given to look for a musician to sooth the suffering soul. As one who practices several musical instruments I agree with the soothing effect of melodious contemplation. Soft music can thwart sad thoughts or even evil inclinations that occur should we turn way from the will of God. Whether I play such music on piano, guitar or horn, or it comes from an electronic device, there is nothing more soothing for me than Native American flute music. It just puts me at peace and inclines my soul towards the Holy.
Also, that a musician becomes head of state, or a spiritual advisor, is probably not a bad idea. David is referred to in our reading for today where in addition to being one who plays music, he will slay Goliath. As an aside, David is also given credit for most of the Psalms of Scripture.
It was Saint Augustine of Hippo who said “singing is praying twice.” When I look at the numerous times we hear about singing in the Bible (songs sung after crossing the Red Sea in Exodus, to the Song of Mary in Luke), and especially in the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John where many times the elders folded themselves to the ground singing to the One on the Throne; it becomes obvious to me that singing and/or music is important to God; and should be to us as well.
Chanting is music as well. When monks chant they slow down the words and let them be carried throughout the halls and corridors of their monastery where all can benefit from the pleasing, peaceful sounds that perhaps drive off evil thoughts and intentions. And maybe, just maybe, the love of God will fill the void. There is nothing evil about God but calming music will cast out man’s self-generated evil. Sing one of your favorite hymns today and see.
Let us live in order that we might love, rather than just live to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John