So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people. Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army, and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder, and Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were priests, and Seraiah was secretary, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over[a] the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and David’s sons were priests. 2 Samuel 8:15-18
This statement about David’s sons being priests is a controversial one. Many translators could not bring themselves to translate the Hebrew word, that is translated as priests in many other places, as priests. They decided to go with Chief advisors or something similar. So, what are we to think?
Perhaps David and his sons were fulfilling generic priestly roles apart from the high priests’ duties in the holy of holies. David often called for the Ephod, a priestly garment, when he wanted to hear from God. He had been anointed to be king, which made him gods representative in governmental matters. It is a somewhat priestly function. Back in the days of Abraham, Melchizedek was this king and priest to whom the patriarch paid tithes. So a priesthood existed before the law gave a priesthood to the Levites. It seems like David and his sons did not supplant the levitical priesthood, but served as God’s intermediaries in other ways.
In the new testament, Peter says we, believers in Jesus, are a royal priesthood, a holy nation. That does not mean we can now sacrifice bulls and rams on an altar. It means we are now Christ’s ambassadors to the world, announcing that the last sacrifice was given, and teaching what this means to all of us.