“And so, it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him” (l Samuel 16:23).
It is interesting to notice that most of the biblical characters who had depressive symptoms or signs of mental unbalance were righteous people. Saul, however, is an exception. When God sent him in a military campaign against Amalek, Saul did not destroy everything as God had commanded him but put aside the best part of the earnings as prey, forgave the enemy king’s life and took that great victory as a personal triumph. The Lord told him that because of his disobedience he would no longer be the lawful king of Israel anymore. The prophet Samuel revealed by divine inspiration that the mistake was not an innocent one but one of «rebellion» and «stubbornness» which is comparable to witchcraft and idolatry (l Sam. 15:23).
The king became desperate. His mental condition got worse and, because of his persistent worrying, at times he became almost insane with the thought of imminent disaster to himself and his household (Signs of the Times, August 3, 1888). His mood became so effective that his counselors advised him to seek the services of a skillful musician to play before the king as a way of treating mental problems. This is how the young David (interestingly already anointed as King) served as emotional relief for Saul. Maybe this service was one of the first pioneer acts of music therapy in the history.
A group of researchers, under the direction of Jaakko Erkkila, conducted an experiment published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. The study was carried out in Finland in order to investigate the therapeutic power of music on depression. They randomly divided 79 participants, who were all diagnosed with depression, into two groups. For ten weeks, one of the groups (forty-six people) received the usual treatment and the other one (thirty-three people) also received the same treatment but paired with music therapy (which consisted both in listening and performing music) twice a week. At the end, it was noticed that the patients who received music therapy had considerably reduced depressive symptoms compared to the other group. These differences were visible even after three months.
Unfortunately for Saul, the end of his story is very sad because selfishness and vanity were at the root of his problem (l Sam. 15:17-19).
If you are affected by any emotional disorder, God will help you find solutions of temporary relief just like in Saul’s case. But the final solution will come only when you reach out to Him in humbleness, as He promises you eternal life in His kingdom.