The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their musick. The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning. (Lamentations 5:14-15)
The other day on my way to the office, I was listening to a song by The Doobie Brothers entitled “The Doctor.” (Yes, I do sometimes indulge in listening to that godless music!) A line in that song says, “Music is the doctor of my soul,” and the premise of the song is basically that no matter what ails you, music (in this case “rock” music) will make it all better. That made me think: what happens when the music stops? What of your soul then?
We live in a very sensual era, where (it seems to me) people constantly seek one thrill after another. I notice many people walking around with ear buds plugged into their ears and their faces simultaneously plugged into their personal communications devices. It’s as if they desperately seek to shut out the world around them and seclude themselves to a fantasy world of their own creation. Perhaps that explains why many are oblivious to what goes on in the world around them. After all, unless one is firmly grounded, the ugliness of this world gives good cause for depression. Who needs that! So, crank up the tunes, focus on mindless matter, and invent your own reality. But, what happens when the music stops? What happens when “the doctor of your soul” dies?
When Jeremiah wrote the passage above, the Jews had serious cause for depression. Their nation had been ravished by the Babylonians, and all but the feeblest had been carried away captive to a foreign land. They said:
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land? (Psalm 137:1-4)
For them, the music had stopped, but note God’s response to their lament:
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. (Jeremiah 29:5-7)
In other words, live your life where you are. Face it; the world around us is not getting any better, and trying to drown it out with music and entertainment will not make it go away. At some point, the music stops, and we have to deal with life – real life with all of its ills. Jesus reminds us, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Trouble and tribulation are just part of life, but for the child of God there is the assurance that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Paul knew about this. He said, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13). Note that this is something that is learned; one does not come by it naturally, and one does not learn it without living through it. Music is not the doctor; life is, but for the child of God, the power comes from Christ who has overcome the world and gives us to power to face all of life’s circumstances.
I enjoy music – all kinds – but when the music stops, “My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2).