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In these chapters David organizes the service to God in the temple. He is a type of the Lord Jesus in the future. How this service will be in the millennial kingdom of peace is described in Ezekiel 40-48. David is also a type of the Lord Jesus now, how He organizes the service in the church. Also now there are priests, on the basis of His work (1Pet 2:5; Rev 1:6). The purpose of this service is to offer sacrifices of praise, thanksgiving and worship.
If we need to give a job description of the Levites and the priests, we can say the following. Levites are given to the priests as gifts to make priestly service possible and to promote and deepen it. Priests bring sacrifices.
In principle, every believer is a Levite, not only those who serve with the Word. The Lord has entrusted each one with a certain task. The great characteristic of the Levites’ service is that they help the believers to become better priests or better worshippers and better servants. Every believer is a gift to every other believer. It is a service that believers do to each other for the purpose of better service to God.
The tasks of the Levites are mentioned in 1 Chronicles 25-27. Seven tasks are mentioned, which does not mean that there are no more tasks:
1. Singers (1Chr 25:1-31)
2. Division of the gatekeepers (1Chr 26:1-19)
3. Keepers of the treasure (1Chr 26:20-28)
4. Officers and judges (1Chr 26:29-32)
5. Commanders of the army (1Chr 27:1-15)
6. Chief officers of the tribes (1Chr 27:16-24)
7. Other officials and counsellors (1Chr 27:25-34)
1. The Singers
In 1 Chronicles 15-16 David has already nominated and appointed the singers. Singing is missing in the tabernacle service. In the temple there must be regular singing. Every believer is a singer. We have meetings to sing. The Lord Jesus Himself sang a hymn with the disciples after the Passover meal. That is just before He goes to the cross (Mt 26:30).
David chooses the singers together with the commanders of the army (1Chr 25:1). This indicates that there is a connection between singing and war. We have an example of this in the history of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20. Jehoshaphat receives a special encouragement from a prophet, who encourages him to go up fearlessly. Then the Levites praise the LORD with a powerful voice. Then the singers go out before the armies and the moment they sing the praises the enemy is defeated by the LORD (2Chr 20:21-22). Especially at critical moments the believer may pray and sing. When Paul and Silas are captured because of their struggle in the gospel, they sing in the prison at night (Acts 16:25a). In the song the believer raises his heart in praise to God.
For the service work of the singing, “are set apart … [some] of the sons of Asaph and of Heman and of Jeduthun” (1Chr 25:1). Asaph is the writer of the Psalms 50 and 73-83, Heman of Psalm 88 and Jeduthun of Psalm 39 and possibly Psalm 62. Asaph means ‘one who gathers’, Jeduthun ‘a choir of praise’ and Heman ‘faithful’. In these names we see what should characterize a local church that comes together to worship.
Singing to the glory of God is called prophecy three times (1Chr 25:1; 2; 3). We can say that this service, according to the New Testament meaning of the word ‘prophecy’, has an upbuilding, exhorting and comforting character (1Cor 14:3). It is also called a “service”. This means that, at a time when everything is in decay, we must work to ensure that this service is also provided by us. The service of singing is a service just like preaching the gospel or another service among believers. This service of singing is focused on God.
The service of the singers is a spiritual service. As mentioned above, we read several times that singers ‘prophesy’ by singing, which means that their service has a spiritual effect. This shows that there is a connection between the song and prophecy. In this sense Paul also speaks about this to the church in Ephesus: “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph 5:19a).
The aspect of “speaking to one another” occurs in different songs. We just have to pay attention to that when we sing a song. Songs in which we ‘speak to one another’ are songs in which a call is made to each other. An example of this is the song ‘Onward Christian soldiers’, in which we call upon and encourage one another to go forward in the struggle we experience as we follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus.
Someone has seen a prayer in the meaning of some of the names of the sons of Heman (1Chr 25:4). Starting with Hananiah, the sixth son of Heman, the names of the rest of his sons can be translated from Hebrew. If we examine the meaning of these names in order, a prayer arises that well describes Heman’s work as “the king’s seer” (1Chr 25:5) and as a poet:
(6th-Hananiah)--------Be merciful, Yahweh,
------ (7th-Hanani)--------be merciful to me!
(8th-Eliathah)-----------My God, You,
------ (9th-Giddalti) --------I have praised
------ (10th-Romamti-ezer)---and exalted because of help.
(11th-Joshbekashah)----Though sitting down desolate,
------ (12th-Mallothi)--------I have proclaimed
Songs must also be according to God’s Word (1Chr 25:5), they must ‘interpret’ that Word. If a song is in accordance with the Word of God, it gives strength in the service, of which the lifting of the horn speaks (exalt is literal: lift up the horn). Many songs in our time contain little from the Word of God or even have a content that contradicts it or is purely focused on the emotions, with many repeats. The connection between the Word of God, or the service of prophecy, and the song is beautifully seen in what Paul says to the Colossians: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms [and] hymns [and] spiritual songs” (Col 3:16).
The house of the LORD (1Chr 25:6) is a house of singing. The singers are supposed to be there and not to stay at home or to be busy with something else. This finds its application in the gathering of the church, “in the household of God, which is the church of the living God” in this time (1Tim 3:15). We are warned not to forsake “our own assembling together” (Heb 10:25).
As a father Heman is in charge of his (musical) family. He draws up his children for the singing service. It must have been a pleasure to see Heman and his children come to the temple and hear them sing. The children do not rule the service, neither at home nor in the house of God, but follow their father and do what he says. It is not in accordance with God’s thoughts that there are praise services only for young people, or that they determine the service in the church.
Father Heman sets a good example, because he himself is also “under the direction of the king”. Spiritually, the fathers in Christ lead the youth and little children in Christ in the praise of God. They can only do so if they themselves acknowledge the authority of Christ over their lives. They are under Godly control (cf. Jn 4:24). In the letter to the Hebrews, the sacrifices of praise are also correctly connected with those who lead and watch over souls (Heb 13:15-17).
From singing songs power emerges. Giving out a song in the meeting that is sung by the church should be the result of spiritual exercise. It happens “under the direction of the king” (1Chr 25:6), which means to us by the direction of the Lord Jesus. It needs exercise in the school of God, to be “trained” in “singing to the LORD” (1Chr 25:7), to give out a song that can be sung by all. It is about “singing to the LORD”. Every believer, young and old, is involved in this (1Chr 25:7-8; 1Chr 24:31; cf. Mt 21:16).
The expression “singing to the LORD” appears three times in the Old Testament. The first time “singing to the LORD” is done by Moses and the Israelites, when the people are delivered from slavery in Egypt (Exo 15:1). The deliverance is the reason of this song. Here, in 1 Chronicles 25, it is mentioned for the second time. The emphasis here is on who can do this service: those who are called and spiritually trained. The third time it occurs, it’s about when to sing: when the burnt offering begins (2Chr 29:27). There is also another mention of singing “the LORD’s song” (Psa 137:4). There the question is where to sing: not in a foreign land, but in Jerusalem.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Chronicles 25". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19