What does the Bible say about melodic music and its influence/affect upon man’s spirit, God’s Spirit, and demonic spirits? And what does God think about melody in music (as opposed to rhythm or harmony being the main element in music)?
First, let’s read 1 Sam. 16:14-16, 23 carefully. It states in 1 Sam. 16:16 that Saul’s servants already knew that harp playing would make Saul well from the evil spirit that was on him. How did they know this? Either God told them this or, more likely, it was common information gained from seeing or hearing about similar situations that occurred on multiple occasions over past years, decades, or centuries. And in 1 Sam. 16:23, it states that “whenever” the evil spirit would come upon Saul that David would play the harp and Saul would be refreshed, made well, and the evil spirit would leave. This is no one time occurrence, and it’s not conjecture or extrapolating Scripture that melodic harp music affected not only Saul’s spirit, but the evil spirit as well on multiple occasions.
Second, while Scripture doesn’t specifically state in direct words that melody affects a person’s spirit, it certainly can be deduced both logically and biblically from Scripture that melodic music does affect people spiritually.
John 4:24 states that God is to be worshiped in “spirit” and truth. And how were people assisted at times in worshiping God in “spirit”? Psalm 98:5 states, “Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre (a harp-like instrument); with the lyre and the sound of melody.” This is not merely a suggestion, but a command. Notice, God is to be worshiped with the sound of “melody”. The lyre, harp, timbrel, and flute were rather quiet instruments producing a soft, pleasant, soothing sound, melodic. But why does it say with the sound of melody, rather than harmony or rhythm?
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines melody as “a sweet succession of sounds”. Notice what Psalm 81:2 states: “Raise a song, strike the timbrel, the sweet sounding lyre with the harp.” God wants sweet sounding music, and melody is sweet sounding music. In Ephesians 5:18-19, Christians are commanded to “be filled with the Spirit” and, when so controlled by God’s Spirit, to speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with their hearts to the Lord. Why melody? Because melody is associated with sweetness, the worship of God, God’s Spirit, our spirit, spiritual communication between God and man, between man and man, and the rebuff of evil spirits.
Dr. Homer Kent in his commentary on Ephesians, page 98, states that making melody in your heart to the Lord describes the inward spiritual communion of the believer with his Lord, the unvoiced praise of meditation and worship in the person’s heart (i.e., spirit, as Dr. Charles Hodge states in his commentary on Ephesians, page 106). So God wants, in fact demands, melody to be directed to Himself from/in your heart/spirit. Melodic music is the kind of music the Spirit-filled Christian makes to the Lord in his heart/spirit.
Now look at 1 Chronicles 25:1-6. Here we see king David and his commanders setting apart for service certain musicians. And what were they to do? They were to prophesy with lyre, harps, and cymbals (instruments for melodic music). With the harp, they were to prophesy in giving thanks and praising the Lord. They were to sing in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, for the service of the house of God. Do you see how melodic music is associated with worshiping God and with the spiritual aspect of men?
Then in 2 Kings 3:14-17, the prophet Elisha commands that a minstrel (a harp player) be brought to him, who he then had play the harp/minstrel. At this point, the hand of the Lord (that is, God’s Spirit) came upon Elisha so that he prophesied God’s words. Drs. Walvoord and Zuck in their Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, page 543, state that “harp music helped put Elisha into a frame of mind in which he could readily discern the Lord’s direction”. Drs. Pfeiffer and Harrison in their Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 343, state that this music brought Elisha into a proper disposition to hear the Lord’s word. Or, as Matthew Henry states in vol. 1 of his commentary on page 934, Elisha called the musician to play the harp and with sweet music, it would cheer Elisha’s spirits, settle his mind, and help to put him into a right frame, both to speak to God and to hear from Him.
In 1 Samuel 10:5-7, the prophet Samuel tells Saul that he would meet a group of prophets who had harp, tambourine, flute, and a lyre accompanying them and that they would be prophesying, and that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon him mightily and he would prophesy and be changed into a different person. Matthew Henry in his commentary on page 934 states, “those that desire communion with God must keep their spirits quiet and serene” to which harp and sweet music contribute. Again, we see how melodic music is closely associated with affecting a person’s spirit/spirituality.
In conclusion, we see that melodic music is what God desires, pleases Him, and even moves Him to action in His relationship to us. It’s also how He wants to be worshiped. Melodic music seems to drive away demonic spirits while at the same time refreshes man’s spirit.