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Music and the Mercy of God (2 Kings 3:14-17)


sheet music

14 And Elisha said, "As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you. 15 But now bring me a musician." And when the musician played, the hand of the LORD came upon him. 16 And he said, "Thus says the LORD, 'I will make this dry streambed full of pools.' 17 For thus says the LORD, 'You shall not see wind or rain, but that streambed shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, you, your livestock, and your animals.'  (2 Kings 3:14-17 ESV)


In the beginning—God created music. Now, although Genesis does not document the creation of music, it also does not detail for us the creation of angels nor Satan’s fall into sin. Yet, we read that when God created the earth, all “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy…” (Job 38:7) In other words, when the angels saw God’s immense creative power, calling into existence out of nothing the earth, sea, and the sky—they shouted for joy! As the mighty mountains and dry land burst out from the depths of the sea and God sank the foundations of the earth into place, anchoring the continents of our planet into the earth’s mantle, the angels were absolutely awestruck and these “sons of God” burst out into songs of praise though they had never attended a school of music! 


Now if music is rightly defined as sound ordered in time, it is understandable why music should be a medium for praise to God. Notes in harmony, not dissonance, organized in a rhythmic fashion to create a sense of melody and counterpoint, transcend human language and speak directly to our souls that were made to worship our Creator at the very core of our being. Music by its very nature lifts our spirits and evokes in us a sense of utter wonder that reflects the fact that our God is not a God of confusion but a God of peace and order. Just as the Garden of Eden was meant to be cultivated by man to declare the brilliance and orderliness of God to our eyes, so also is the careful cultivation and arrangement of musical tones meant to declare the brilliance and orderliness of God to our ears. It is no wonder then that the Lord has chosen on a number of occasions to use moments of musical worship for the revelation of his perfectly harmonious and good plans.


Here, a curious scene unfolds as Elisha the prophet advises the Israelite king with a word from the Lord—but not before calling for a musician. Now, the Israelites were in serious trouble. They had no water for their army and their very existence as a nation hung by a thread as a Moabite army threatened to obliterate them. But in spite of this very immediate danger, the prophet reacts, not by calling for a counsel of war, nor by offering a sacrifice, but by calling for a song. And although not explicitly stated, given the miraculous response, what was played could only have been a song of worship to God. Now if music is a medium by which the heart pours out its worship and draws near to God, is it not then fitting that the hand of the Lord would reveal God’s merciful plan in response? The Israelites had no hope whatsoever, but God in his mercy observed their deferential posture and chose not to just give life through the water that miraculously appeared, but also used the very same water to bring death to the enemies of Israel. All this because one man prioritized the worship of God.


There is a lesson for us here. Believer, in life’s most difficult circumstances, have you ever thought to face your difficulties with a song on your lips? Not just a merry tune to please your ears, but a new song of praise from your heart to God? Even though your circumstances might be dire and you are overwhelmed by grief, the greatness of God, his beauty and his splendor, and his sheer mercy in saving an undeserving sinner like you will never change. Christ died under God’s wrath, so that all that we might face in this life is but a light momentary affliction compared to the cross. Therefore, never forget that crisis is not a time to stop and sit in despondency, but rather, a time to stand and sing to your God and king. And as you make music to the Lord with your heart and lips, may you have the joy at seeing his mercy as he fights for you. He who did not spare his own Son for you will surely do it. 


Article by: Samuel Chua

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