When five-year-old Bella was hospitalized for cancer in North Dakota, she received music therapy as part of her treatment. Many people have experienced the powerful effect of music on mood without understanding exactly why, but researchers have recently documented a clinical benefit. Music is now being prescribed for cancer patients like Bella, and those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and trauma to reduce anxiety, muscle tension, and sleep problems, or to release sadness.
King Saul reached for a musical prescription when he was feeling tormented. His attendants saw his lack of peace and suggested they find someone to play the lyre for him in hopes it would make him “feel better” (1 Samuel 16:16). They sent for Jesse’s son David, and Saul was pleased with him and asked that he “remain in [his] service” (v. 22). David played for Saul in his moments of unrest, bringing him relief from his anguish.
We may only just be discovering scientifically what God has known all along about how music can affect us. As the author and creator of both our bodies and music itself, He provided a prescription for our health that’s readily accessible to all, regardless of the era in which we live or how easy it is to visit a doctor. Even when there’s no way to listen, we can sing to God in the midst of our joys and struggles, making music of our own (Acts 16:25; Psalm 59:16).