The Healing Touch of Music

Sunday, April 5, 2020

And whenever the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre harp and played it with his hand; so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him. 1 Sam. 16:23, RSV.

King Saul was troubled, his conscience pricked. As he tossed upon his bed, sleep evaded him. There was no Nyquil, Sleep-eze, or Nytol in those days. So in the late hours of the night he would call for David, the young shepherd, to play soft melodic cadences on his stringed instrument, and sleep would come. Music refreshed him, calmed his nerves, and made him feel better.

The noted philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in 1889 that "without music, life would be a mistake." Music has a tremendous impact on the human psyche. In fact, it's now an accepted healing agent in modern medicine.

As a result of graduate study a few years ago at the University of Southern California, I became extremely interested in using music as a way of changing behavior in people. In my work at Life Care Centers I've seen how music in its many facets has changed the moods of people within minutes. Some older individuals who mostly sleep through the day, or perhaps just sit and stare vacantly, will begin tapping their toes and clapping their hands when they come to music therapy. Music reaches them when no person can.

Whitcomb reports that music is a "battery charger for the brain, and some people will frequently begin to reminisce, and verbalize thoughts and feelings in ways thought to be long dormant."

Satan, that musical genius, knows the effect music has on people. But instead of soothing them, he delights in just the opposite. Studies have shown that sensory overload can increase anxiety. He causes this with a fast-pulsing beat and loud, chaotic sounds. Music with less than 72 beats per minute (normal pulse rate) has a calming effect. Faster, loud, clashing sounds increase anxiety.

I can testify to the truth of Ellen White's words: "When turned to good account, music is a blessing; but it is often made one of Satan's most attractive agencies to ensnare souls. When abused, it leads the unconsecrated to pride, vanity, and folly. When allowed to take the place of devotion and prayer, it is a terrible curse" (Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 506).

The next time you have trouble sleeping, don't pop a pill. Relax and fall asleep with God's beautiful music.

Used by permission of Health Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.