Playing in the Spirit

So…onto 1 Samuel now…there is so much in here I don’t even know where to start, but one subject seemed to jump out at me so I’ll go with it.

We see a major change going on – God has rejected Saul as King of Israel because of Saul’s repeated and blatant disobedience in leading the people. The Bible says that the “Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him.” (1 Sam 16:14) First of all – notice the difference between the “Spirit” (big S) and a spirit (little s). The Holy Spirit was taken away from Saul – in other words his leadership is no longer empowered by God, as a matter of fact God, in his sovereignty over all things, then uses a harmful spirit to bring about the leadership change…but more on that later.

The Spirit was then given to David as we see in 16:13 – so we know that David is now full of the Holy Spirit. Not only that, we learn that David is quite the lyre player. As a matter of fact, whenever Saul is feeling particularly tormented his servants come up with a great idea to have him feel better – they will get someone to play the lyre and that will sooth Saul. But let’s look at this a bit here, there are three main things I see in that:

  1. David is a skilled player.   (1 Sam 16:18)  In other words, he is a cat.  A dude.  He can hang, he can play – he gets lots of calls to sub..ok, well, not sure how much subbing he did, but we do know that he is skilled.  A Biblical basis for being diligent to be good at what we do – strive for excellence in our playing, singing, sound mixing…each aspect of our worship-serving should be done skillfully.  Practice, learn….study – get GOOD at what you do.
  2. David knows what to play that will soothe Saul.  1 Sam 16:23 tells us that David’s playing actually does what they wanted it to do.  When he plays, Saul finds his happy place again.  This requires discernment…or “taste” in knowing what to play, how loud to play, what touch to use, song selection…the whole 9 yards.  See where I’m going with this?  David’s playing isn’t really about him, right?  It’s about making Saul feel better, so he has to play songs that may actually do that…he can’t just walk in and play whatever songs David feels like playing.  Likewise, we as worship leaders and team members are not playing to please ourselves…we are ultimately playing to please God but also to inspire others to encounter the greatness of God in worship (thank you Bob K).  Over my musical career, I’ve played hundreds of weddings.  We never walked into a wedding gig and played just what we wanted, we played a variety of music that would please the bride, (the Bride’s MOM), but also the wide variety of tastes represented by the guests – we had to play everything from the 40’s swing up to today’s (unfortunately) Top-40.  Do we ever approach our worship sets as songs that we really like to play? or that we want to play?  Remember, it’s definitely not about us.
  3. David plays in the Spirit. David is anointed with the Holy Spirit and thus when he plays, his playing is empowered by God.  David is most likely worshiping God in His playing – reflecting on the God he is playing before. (Not Saul…) That is really what makes his playing effective – God working thru him.  Is our playing Holy Spirit powered?  I think the first thing that jumps to mind is this is why  I’m a big proponent of having Christian musicians on your church worship team.  (I know, call me crazy)  We as believers in Christ all have the Holy Spirit living within us (John 3:1-8) – if you are playing on a worship team the Holy Spirit will then empower our playing.  Do we take the time to invite a special blessing of the Holy Spirit before we play?  We should.  We should ask the Holy Spirit to come and bless us more with His presence so that we may play more for the glory of God and less for the glory of ourselves.

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