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Musical Medicine

Today's Devotional

David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul. 1 Samuel 16:23

When five-year-old Bella was hospitalized for cancer in North Dakota, she received music therapy as part of her treatment. Many people have experienced the powerful effect of music on mood without understanding exactly why, but researchers have recently documented a clinical benefit. Music is now being prescribed for cancer patients like Bella, and those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and trauma.

King Saul reached for a musical prescription when he was feeling tormented. His attendants saw his lack of peace and suggested they find someone to play the lyre for him in the hope it would make him “feel better” (1 Samuel 16:16). They sent for Jesse’s son David, and Saul was pleased with him and asked that he “remain in [his] service” (v. 22). David played for Saul in his moments of unrest, bringing him relief from his anguish.

We may only just be discovering scientifically what God has known all along about how music can affect us. As the author and creator of both our bodies and music itself, He provided a prescription for our health that’s readily accessible to all, regardless of the era in which we live or how easy it is to visit a doctor. Even when there’s no way to listen, we can sing to God in the midst of our joys and struggles, making music of our own (Psalm 59:16; Acts 16:25).

How has God used music to soothe you? How can you bring music to someone as David did to Saul?

Father, thank You for creating music and using it to soothe my heart and mind during times of struggle.


In the ancient Near East, it was common for court musicians to be hired for reasons such as entertainment or religious ceremonies. In the case of Saul in 1 Samuel 16, his attendants believed his mental torment would be eased by lyre music (v. 16). Since David was a skilled lyre player as well as a warrior (v. 18), he became both a musician and armor-bearer (the carrier of shield and weapons) for King Saul (vv. 21–23). David’s father, Jesse, sent gifts of food and wine with David (vv. 19–20), perhaps showing gratitude for the honor of having his son chosen to serve the king.

By |2023-03-11T01:33:19-05:00March 11th, 2023|
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