(We don’t know, for certain, that this was the very first musician to have ever lived, but he is the first person mentioned in the Bible who was highly influential in music.)
“And Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. And his brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.” (Gen. 4:20)
Jubal was the father of all the musicians in that day and age.
Jubal’s name is very interesting. It means: “a stream, or watercourse, to carry.” It fascinates me that the name of the father of the musicians had a name like this. A name in the ancient Biblical world had meaning and carried a sense of the destiny of its recipient.
When I think of a river, I think of several things: 1) Nourishment, 2) Refreshment, 3) Flowing, and 4) Cleansing.
Those who either listen to or participate in music, to any degree, would attest to the fact that good music brings nourishment to our souls. It refreshes us.
As a musician, I am particularly interested in the flowing nature of the melodic lines and the general direction or flow of the composition. As a worshiper, I am endeavoring to always be aware of where the flow of the service is going, what direction it’s taking. The ability to ‘flow’ in music and worship may ultimately be the most important thing for the musician to learn.
The current of the river carries you. You don’t manufacture it. You can’t change its flow; it would futile to try. You simply relax and allow yourself to be carried from one destination to another by the river’s pervasive power.
Sometimes the river is ‘wild’, impassioned and driving, while at other times it is peaceful, tranquil, and serene. One who is traveling its path cannot dictate when or where these things might happen, he must simply ‘go with the flow’.
In creativity, whether spontaneous improvisation or meditative pre-planned composition and arranging, there is a flow that is already there, just waiting to be ‘tapped into’. It is when we step into this River that we have the most rewarding times of bringing forth the new. That which will be created flows out of that which already is.
Fourthly, a river brings cleansing. We should be listening to and participating in the refreshing waters of music and worship, rather than the murky waters of stagnate pools. If a music or worship experience leaves you feeling empty or dry, it’s probably because the River was not in it. However, when you participate in the flow of the River, you always come out knowing it. You feel refreshed, nourished and clean.
We should always endeavor to tap into the source of this flow, the flow that is already happening…a flow which cannot be controlled or manipulated. (Oh, we can navigate, but we cannot ultimately control its onward momentum.) We must simply ‘connect’ to it and participate, not fighting against the current, but relaxing in it, as we are carried to our next destination.
Perhaps Jubal is not only the father of ancient Biblical musicians, but also of all those who enjoy participating in the same River from which he himself flowed.