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  • Writer's pictureW.S. BARNETT

Music Calms the Troubled Soul

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

"David took the lyre (harp) and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him." (1 Samuel 16:24)

I recently traveled to the Netherlands with friends for the trip of a lifetime. We visited massive historic cathedrals adorned with vibrant stained glass windows and beautiful works of master artists. Walking the footsteps of the Dutch masters – Van Gogh, Vermeer, Rembrandt, and so many others, was an inspiring and enriching experience. During the tour, all of the Netherlands was celebrating the 350th Anniversary of Rembrandt van Rijn, the greatest master of the Dutch Golden Age, with public museum exhibits and symposiums. After visiting every museum in the Netherlands that featured Rembrandt's masterpieces, we ended the tour in the Hague, visiting the Mauritshuis Museum. There, for the first time, I saw Saul and David (c. 1651 - 1654 and c. 1655 – 1658) a vibrant, colorful yet dismal painting. For many years there was doubt if this painting was, in fact, a genuine Rembrandt. In 2015, after years of scrutiny and research, the painting was confirmed to be an original Rembrandt. Rembrandt powerfully depicts the story of a demented king.

An insecure King Saul suffers from depression and fits of rage. David returns from conquering the Philistines and is praised by the people. Saul sees David as a threat to take over his failing position. David is playing the harp passionately, lost in his music. Saul is touched profoundly by the music, and he dries his tears on the curtain while clutching a spear in one hand. The mad king is plotting to kill David.

Rembrandt's Saul and David is a picture of the healing power of music. Music helps to ease anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders, soothing the soul and boosting overall well-being. Theologian Martin Luther said, "Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us".

David's music had a powerful, healing impact. God used his music to calm the inner torment of Saul. And, God lovingly sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17), soothing our souls and lifting our burdens.

When is the last time you felt the healing touch of music?

Copyright 2020 William S. Barnett All rights reserved

Saul and David: Wikipedia

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