1 Samuel 16: 23bDavid would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him.
It was 1996 and my son Josh, a pre-schooler, was infatuated with the movie Space Jam. Swackhammer, an evil alien theme park owner, needs a new attraction. His gang heads to earth, kidnaps Bugs Bunny and his Looney Tunes buddies. Bugs challenges the gang to a basketball game to determine their fate. The aliens agree but they steal the power of NBA players including Larry Bird and Charles Barkley, making the alien team unbeatable. But Bugs solicits the help of Michael Jordan. An epic basketball game ensues; in the dying seconds Jordan realizes that cartoon physics applied to him in this world and he supernaturally extends his arm to score the winning point. The Looney Tunes win and are released from captivity.
I recall my son’s delight when Jordan demonstrated this supernatural ability to defeat the forces of evil. Some would argue that Jordan demonstrated some of those powers on the earthly basketball court during the Bulls’ 6 NBA championships in the 1990’s. Yet what reporters would refer to as “impossible shots”, albeit incredibly difficult and unlikely, there was nothing supernatural about them.
In the previous devotional, “What is Your Sling?”, I brought up the concept of using the God-given talents we have. The analogy came from David using a sling and a stone to slay the giant Goliath, a sling which he learned to use during his everyday dreary job of herding sheep. Saul’s armor and sword were useless to David because they weren’t his talent, but the sling was. And we are encouraged to recognize what our sling is (our natural talent) and use it to the glory of God.
As Christians, we have more than a sling though. We have a harp. This analogy comes from Rob Wegner and Brian Phipp’s book Find Your Place[i]. Regarding the harp, they refer to the story taken from 1 Samuel 16:14-23. Saul was no longer following the Lord’s commands and we read: “Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord terrorized him.” (vs. 14). Saul’s servants had heard of David’s harp-playing skills and thought some music therapy might be the answer. David’s playing, however, did more than make Saul feel better. We read: “So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him.” (vs. 23). When David payed the harp, something more than musical notes filled the air, the supernatural power of God was invoked that caused demons to flee.
Wegner and Phipps remind us that as Christians we are given something more than our natural abilities (the sling) – we are given supernatural powers (the harp), which are our spiritual gifts. Paul says: “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that” (1 Corinthians 7:7). 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:3-8, and Ephesians 4:11-13 list 18 spiritual gifts including wisdom, serving, teaching, encouraging, leadership, evangelism etc. The scriptures are clear – every believer, has at least one spiritual gift (God’s supernatural ability). It is the Spirit of God who distributes them as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11), and the gifts are given to serve others, the “common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). What is the harp God has given you to serve others?
[i] Find Your Place, Wegner, Rob and Phipps, Brian. Zondervan Publishing 2019.