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Ministry Critics: Are You Holding a Harp or a Spear?

Years ago, a friend of mine asked me what I thought about some big artist’s new worship CD, and I remember taking the opportunity to (ever so subtly) slander the artist. I was able to word it in a way that it sounded impersonal, objective, and merely a matter of opinion, but deep down, I was giving in to a nasty little sin.

Soon after, I started studying through the relationship between Saul and David in 1 Samuel (chapters 16-19). What I saw in Saul was disgusting, even pitiful, and what’s worse was that it was exactly what I was seeing when I looked in the mirror.

Saul started out legitimately loving David, even “greatly loving him.” (16:21) Saul was the first king of Israel, and for a while, things were going pretty well for him, but no amount of external success could’ve protected Saul from what was growing within his heart. Before long, David was becoming wildly popular, having single-handedly delivered Israel from the hand of the Philistine army, and something switched in Saul. His disposition toward David moved from great love to suspicion (18:9). And then the spears started flying as suspicion turned to fear (18:12), and fear grew into outright dread (18:15). The result? Saul commanded David be put to death (19:1).

There’s a little subtext throughout this story that’s worth mentioning. Look how the Bible says it: 1 Samuel 18:10 Now it came about that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul’s hand.

You’ll start to notice how often it speaks of David and his harp, and conversely, Saul and his spear. If it weren’t so sad, it would be comical (see 19:19, see 20:33, where Saul chucks his spear at his own son, and then see 26:7, where Saul is now sleeping-SLEEPING!- with his spear).

So you have David with harp in hand, and you have Saul with spear in hand. One was an instrument of healing, the other an instrument for hurt. One was used to deliver, the other to destroy. One was a tool for soothing, the other for striking.

I have to ask: What’s in your hand? What would people who are close to you say is in your hand?

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Aaron has served as the worship pastor at Grace Fellowship Church (outside Atlanta, GA) for the past eight years. His heart is to restore the Word of God to the foundation of corporate worship, and to see a shift in the next generation of worship leaders (who lead songs) to becoming more biblically empowered worship pastors (who lead people).