Following on from the previous article, we saw how King David celebrated the relocation of the ark of the covenant, into the City of David (Jerusalem). However, David didn’t just recognize God’s presence and God’s faithfulness with a single event. This wasn’t a 15-minute ceremony where the ark was placed in a prepared tent, and then everyone acknowledged that and went home.
Let’s continue reading in 1 Chronicles 16:
He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to extol, thank, and praise the LORD, the God of Israel: Asaph was the chief, and next to him in rank were Zechariah, then Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel. They were to play the lyres and harps, Asaph was to sound the cymbals, and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow the trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God.
1 Chronicles 16:4-6 NIV
You might not recognize these particular people from the tribe of Levi, even if you read the Bible regularly. However, these were real, specific human beings, assigned by David for a particular purpose. (If you read the previous article, did you notice Obed-Edom in that list? It looks like he got to continue serving God, even after the ark was moved from his house to Jerusalem.)
I’d like to point out two things about the people named in these verses:
First, they had specific roles. Everyone had their jobs. It sounds like Asaph was the leader (“chief”, in verse 5), but he didn’t play the harp, here. Maybe Jahaziel wanted to play the cymbals, but his place was on trumpet. If you’ve ever taught grade-school children (or tried to lead certain adults!), you know that if we all try to do what we want, it’s going to be a mess. When selfishness directs our choices, God isn’t likely to be glorified through our chaos. Yes, God can be glorified despite our sins. However (as we find with examples in the Bible like Pharaoh, Herod, and King Saul), we may not want to be the means through which He is glorified in that case.
Can you imagine what would happen if all of these Levites decided that they were going to play the cymbals? What a racket that would have been! Conversely, often unrelated to musical ability, we get to be part of a greater “symphony” in praising God, doing our own part in harmony with everyone else who is similarly committed to glorifying Him.
Instead of just making noise, I expect that each of these appointees did exactly what they needed to (even if they didn’t get to be in charge), in order to achieve David’s goals here. This included not only praising and glorifying God, but also telling people about what God had done.
Secondly, their appointments were to address God. You might not be able to play the harp or a trumpet (although I imagine that most of us could play the cymbals), but whatever God has appointed you to do, you can use it to praise and thank God. However, this isn’t automatic: you (and I) must choose to do that. By default, we could go about our day as a chore, or a duty, or a drudge. The superior alternative, though, is go about our day seeing it as a chance to do our very best for God’s glory, making a point of doing so. Then, we can thank Him privately for the chance to serve Him, and we can give Him the credit publicly. He deserves glory and fame both for being a great God, and for giving us the ability to do what we do in service to Him.
We don’t just have the names of Asaph’s “band” and the instruments that they played, though. Verses 8-36 recount a song (or poem, chant, or other proclamation) that David gave to them to share. I encourage you to read through that, to appreciate how they praised God on this special occasion. After all, David was quite a psalm-writer. Matthew Henry points out “1 Chron. 16:7-23 is taken from Ps. 105:1-15”, and he shows us how other portions of this song for Asaph’s team here can be found in the Psalms. As he suggests, this is a great way to praise God, by taking what has already been written about Him, and sharing it with others!
How about us? Would we be willing to stand in God’s presence – maybe in front of something that reminds people about Him – and proclaim these words, both to Him and to anyone else who would hear?
- Would we be willing to say (or sing or write) these words to Christians, and invite them to join in? Are we so overwhelmed by God’s glory and mercy that we will continue to tell people about it, reminding them of this good news, even when this fallen world tries to drown it out?
- Would we be willing to share these words with skeptics, non-theists, and those of other beliefs, to invite them to join us in getting to know the God of the universe better? Are we willing to risk being mocked by others, simply because we have gotten to know God to the point that we can’t keep silent about Him?
I’m reminded of Jesus’ disciples who were told “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (see Acts 4:1-22, especially verses 18-20). Their response was that they couldn’t help but to do so. If you are a follower of Jesus, do you feel that same way?
Like the people who passed by Asaph and his group of proclaimers, we who follow Jesus should remember that we serve a holy and glorious God. It’s easy to fall into a cycle of wasting our days on ourselves, or even doing honorable work without choosing to do it in His name and for His glory. Just as God provided the ark of His covenant as a symbol of His presence, we (who are living under the new covenant brought to us through Jesus Christ) can serve as reminders of God’s presence and His holy nature. Like the musicians in David’s time, we can proclaim the good news about God to all who pass by. And, like the Levites who carried the ark properly to this tent (after David learned his lesson), we can make decisions that are guided by the Holy Spirit and match up with God’s instructions, showing respect to Him as part of our worship and praise.
From Sunday School lesson for May 30, 2021
- The Lookout, May 30, 2021, © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Matthew Henry. 1706, via BibleGateway.com.