An Honor to Serve

As for the divisions of the gatekeepers: of the Korahites, Meshelemiah the son of Kore, of the sons of Asaph. And Meshelemiah had sons: Zechariah the firstborn, Jediael the second, Zebadiah the third, Jathniel the fourth, Elam the fifth, Jehohanan the sixth, Eliehoenai the seventh. And Obed-edom had sons: Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, Sachar the fourth, Nethanel the fifth, Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peullethai the eighth, for God blessed him. Also to his son Shemaiah were sons born who were rulers in their fathers’ houses, for they were men of great ability. The sons of Shemaiah: Othni, Rephael, Obed and Elzabad, whose brothers were able men, Elihu and Semachiah. All these were of the sons of Obed-edom with their sons and brothers, able men qualified for the service; sixty-two of Obed-edom. And Meshelemiah had sons and brothers, able men, eighteen. And Hosah, of the sons of Merari, had sons: Shimri the chief (for though he was not the firstborn, his father made him chief), Hilkiah the second, Tebaliah the third, Zechariah the fourth: all the sons and brothers of Hosah were thirteen. 1 Chronicles 26:1-11.I don’t know if it’s fair to compare our times to David’s, because there were very few opportunities for people to use their gifts compared to today. David chose men of great ability to be gatekeepers and temple functionaries. And since the wars were over, you had a lot of leadership talent standing around.Today there are so many other places to use your talents, in the business world and the entertainment industry, that the church has to take what it can get. That is not to say there aren’t gifted people in the church, but there are relatively few opportunities to make a living.Before the civil Rights era, African Americans had fewer chances to succeed and many great singers and musicians found their groove in the church before being discovered by broader audiences. The church was happy to use your talent, and you had fewer options if you were black.How many of us are called away to other opportunities because the church does not value or use our talent?

Music and Inspiration

David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals. The list of those who did the work and of their duties was: Of the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asharelah, sons of Asaph, under the direction of Asaph, who prophesied under the direction of the king. Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with the lyre in thanksgiving and praise to the Lord. Of Heman, the sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, and Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, Mahazioth. All these were the sons of Heman the king’s seer, according to the promise of God to exalt him, for God had given Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. They were all under the direction of their father in the music in the house of the Lord with cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the order of the king. The number of them along with their brothers, who were trained in singing to the Lord, all who were skillful, was 288. And they cast lots for their duties, small and great, teacher and pupil alike. 1 Chronicles 25:1-8.

I am reminded what John Adams told his wife in 1780:

I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.

Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.

David’s indulgence of the arts is to glorify God, but it also takes place because he had the liberty to do so. And that liberty came at the cost of much blood. Peacetime does not just happen. It must be won against other people and their false gods.

Instructions and Accountability

The divisions of the sons of Aaron were these. The sons of Aaron: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. But Nadab and Abihu died before their father and had no children, so Eleazar and Ithamar became the priests. With the help of Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, David organized them according to the appointed duties in their service. Since more chief men were found among the sons of Eleazar than among the sons of Ithamar, they organized them under sixteen heads of fathers’ houses of the sons of Eleazar, and eight of the sons of Ithamar. They divided them by lot, all alike, for there were sacred officers and officers of God among both the sons of Eleazar and the sons of Ithamar. And the scribe Shemaiah, the son of Nethanel, a Levite, recorded them in the presence of the king and the princes and Zadok the priest and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the priests and of the Levites, one father’s house being chosen for Eleazar and one chosen for Ithamar. 1 Chronicles 23:1-6.

David wasn’t just bored, now that his enemies were all defeated. He was creating systems to make sure worship continued after he was gone. It is a huge mistake to let people simply do what is right in their own eyes. They need instructions and accountability.

We are no different today. Too many Christians in America are just left to their own devices and we do “the least we can do” to obey our God. We have instructions, but few follow them. Jesus said to make disciples, and to teach them to obey whatsoever he commanded. Yet few are discipled, or even know what that means.

Worse yet, if you decry our wholesale disobedience, you aren’t considered a prophet, but a legalist. And the machinery of ministry goes back to sound checks and dusting.

A Levite’s Work is Never Done

These were the sons of Levi by their fathers’ houses, the heads of fathers’ houses as they were listed according to the number of the names of the individuals from twenty years old and upward who were to do the work for the service of the house of the Lord. For David said, “The Lord, the God of Israel, has given rest to his people, and he dwells in Jerusalem forever. And so the Levites no longer need to carry the tabernacle or any of the things for its service.” For by the last words of David the sons of Levi were numbered from twenty years old and upward. For their duty was to assist the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of the Lord, having the care of the courts and the chambers, the cleansing of all that is holy, and any work for the service of the house of God. Their duty was also to assist with the showbread, the flour for the grain offering, the wafers of unleavened bread, the baked offering, the offering mixed with oil, and all measures of quantity or size. And they were to stand every morning, thanking and praising the Lord, and likewise at evening, and whenever burnt offerings were offered to the Lord on Sabbaths, new moons, and feast days, according to the number required of them, regularly before the Lord. Thus they were to keep charge of the tent of meeting and the sanctuary, and to attend the sons of Aaron, their brothers, for the service of the house of the Lord. 1 Chronicles 23:24-32.

David declared the days of hauling the Tabernacle around was over. God was giving His people rest, and the days of conquest were over. And yet, this was only a picture of a future event, as it is written in Hebrews.

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Hebrews 4:6-10.

Preparing for Solomon

“Now, my son, the Lord be with you, so that you may succeed in building the house of the Lord your God, as he has spoken concerning you. Only, may the Lord grant you discretion and understanding, that when he gives you charge over Israel you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the Lord commanded Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed. With great pains I have provided for the house of the Lord 100,000 talents of gold, a million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond weighing, for there is so much of it; timber and stone, too, I have provided. To these you must add. You have an abundance of workmen: stonecutters, masons, carpenters, and all kinds of craftsmen without number, skilled in working gold, silver, bronze, and iron. Arise and work! The Lord be with you!” 1 Chronicles 22:11-16.

David did all he could to set Solomon up for success. He defeated all his enemies so his son could build the temple during peacetime. He collected the materials and the workers. And he did it all to glorify God.

What will the next generation say of us? They will see mountains of debt, crumbling roads and bridges, neglected houses of worship, a flood of hostile migrants, and laws that oppress the innocent and let the dangerous go free. They will see precious little forethought.