Demons & Music | Walter Chantry

In his book, David: Man of Prayer, Man of War, Chantry walks through the life of David, making penetrating application for us today. The following quotation comes from the third chapter, which expounds upon 1 Samuel 16:23 (David being summoned to play music for the tormented Saul). I trust that you will find his insights as meaningful as I have.

Even as a youth, The Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him Even as a youth, he looked into the crazed eve of Saul, possessed of an evil spirit. Although greater was he that was in David than he that was in Saul, and although God delivered David from a madman and a devil, yet David could not cast out the evil spirit.

He might become king, but he would learn his limitations and his dependence on the Almighty Spirit. The dispositions and moods of human spirits are not influenced only by social and material environments: they are acted upon by divine and demonic spirits. Thus all who labour to soothe the troubled spirits of men must be humbled. At times they are involved with spiritual powers not wholly subject to counselling, scientific analysis, or chemical manipulation.

The Lord sends his Holy Spirit to some and evil spirits to others. No spirit is subject to human processes but by the grace of God. Musical therapy for oppressed minds is not a modern discovery. There are sacred and secular records of this treatment dating from ancient times. Human spirits may be improved greatly by the use of appropriate music. The positive effect may only be temporary, but it may utterly reverse the influence of evil spirits upon a man’s soul. How many are prescribing music for tormented minds in our day? ‘And whenever the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him’ (1 Sam. 16:23).

When we read such an account, it is impossible to imagine that all music is neutral and that only the words of songs have positive or negative impact. We are not told that David sang to Saul but that he used instrumental music for his spiritual wellbeing, Have you not heard some music designed to inflame passions, create agitation, foment rebellion, and even create fear? A man haying the Spirit of the Lord (which Spirit brings righteousness and peace and joy; see Rom. 14:17), plays for a man having an evil spirit (which spirit produces anger, murder, tumult and fear).

This music, influenced by the Spirit of the Lord, drives away the evil spirit. The music itself is not neutral! Is it impossible for those who are made wise by God’s Word to judge the spirits in music? How did David know what to play? How will you know what tunes will soothe the troubled hearts of the saints in worship?

Pp. 20-22

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