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Thanks, Neil Diamond, for clearly ‘pointing’ beyond in “Play Me”

A beautiful feature of our “source book” (the Bible) is how it uses a vast body of vivid analogies for how God relates to us, and how we relate to Him.   We see a shepherd and his sheep. There is a healer and the sick person, the slave / servant and the master, the king and his subjects, the lost and the seeking / finding rescuer, the one in danger and the savior, the one on a journey and the guide, the one in the dark and the one with the light. We are called to be the child of God the Father, to be the bride of Jesus the groom, to be ambassadors of the King. Are there more? Oh, yes. I assume you could come up with more Biblical analogies that point to particular facets of God and our relationship with Him.

It appears inescapable that both God, and we humans, are too much to be completely encompassed by one term, one metaphor, one analogy, or one descriptor. They have to be multiplied, bundled, and prioritized. Such is the Creator God and such is His creation.

Those thoughts were working through my mind on one of my daily workouts which provide both physical and spiritual benefits. The song, and the analogy, that nailed it for me was “Play Me”, sung by Neil Diamond.  You may be, or maybe aren’t, a Neil Diamond fan. Nonetheless, this musical gem is very relevant to the point I am trying to make. To listen, click www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HD6O9patDE. Here are the lyrics:

She was morning and I was night time
I one day woke up to find her lying
Beside my bed; I softly said
“Come take me”
For I’ve been lonely in need of someone
As though I’d done someone wrong somewhere
I don’t know where come lately

You are the sun, I am the moon
You are the words, I am the tune
Play me.

Song she sang to me
Song she brang to me
Words that rang in me
Rhyme that sprang from me
Warmed the night
And what was right
Became me

You are the sun, I am the moon
You are the words, I am the tune
Play me.

And so it was that I came to travel
Upon a road that was thorned and narrow.
Another place, another grace
Would save me

You are the sun, I am the moon
You are the words, I am the tune
Play me
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Two items jump out to me as I listen to the music. The first is that in the song’s analogy both the tune and the lyrics are needed, but the words proclaim the message while being borne by the music. What a beautiful analogy of the relationship between God and humans!! God, the Lyricist’s author, not only spoke; He also created us human to be the tune which carries the words.   What an honor to be the tune!! Or, to be the instrument that is used to produce the tune. In Diamond’s lyrics his desire is the humble one of being a beautiful tune carrying the words. He doesn’t seek to replace the words, but to be played for the sake of the words.

Secondly, I see the last stanza, where the man/woman scene gives way to a new one. The “pointing” feature of music again strikes me. As the girl was the word and the fellow was the tune to be played, now the fellow is on a thorny and narrow road (he can’t get much more into Jesus imagery than that, can he?) But, he can! The road is in another place, with another grace, a grace that would save him.

So, we have the gem of a beautiful piece of music (the tune and words of “Play Me”), that in turn raises the analogy to another level – another set of tune and words (the girl and the fellow), that finally points to an even further state of affairs – a grace that saves in midst of a thorny and narrow road. Is Neil Diamond consciously drawing our eyes and imagination to God? I don’t know. But, perhaps.

In any case, thanks, Neil, for giving to us beautiful music, a fascinating three step progression of thought, and a fruitful pointer to our gracious God and Savior. And, to personalize and interiorize it, we can say to God, “Play me.”

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