Today: [1 Chronicles Twenty-Five] The Singers of Song in the Temple. In this chapter David appoints singers and musicians in the temple. There were so many singers and musicians set aside that David needs the help of the captains of the host in the task of identifying and organizing them as a veritable army. Their job was to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness in hymns, songs and spontaneous songs as well – prophesying with their voices and their instruments. Thus was shall see that the temple was a place bathed in song and constantly filled with music and melody.
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[1Ch 25:1-31 KJV] 1 Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was: 2 Of the sons of Asaph; Zaccur, and Joseph, and Nethaniah, and Asarelah, the sons of Asaph under the hands of Asaph, which prophesied according to the order of the king. 3 Of Jeduthun: the sons of Jeduthun; Gedaliah, and Zeri, and Jeshaiah, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the hands of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp, to give thanks and to praise the LORD. 4 Of Heman: the sons of Heman; Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, and Romamtiezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, [and] Mahazioth: 5 All these [were] the sons of Heman the king’s seer in the words of God, to lift up the horn. And God gave to Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. 6 All these [were] under the hands of their father for song [in] the house of the LORD, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God, according to the king’s order to Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman. 7 So the number of them, with their brethren that were instructed in the songs of the LORD, [even] all that were cunning, was two hundred fourscore and eight. 8 And they cast lots, ward against [ward], as well the small as the great, the teacher as the scholar.
When David moved the ark of the Covenant to mount Zion there was a great increase of appointed musicians and singers. The understanding was that they didn’t just play on their instruments but they actually prophesied on thier instruments. The word used here to “prophesy” means to “bubble up, flow forth, and stream”. This speaks to us of the spontaneous playing upon an instrument or singing without prior arrangement or orchestration (which may later have been recorded to be played again and again). There are 9 references in the bible to singing a “new song” to the Lord “on psaltry, and harp”, etc. The new song was played on instrument and it was also sung with spontaneious lyrics and vocal harmonies. In Rev. 5:9 and 14:3 there is a new song sung before the throne of God, once by the 144,000 and once by the 24 elders which we referenced yesterday regarding the 24 courses the Levites were divided into by David in order to serve in the temple before the Ark of the Covenant. The apostle Paul encouraged the Ephesian church in the new song:
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Thus we understand that the Old Testament people were a people of song and the temple was a place of constant song, worship and instrumentation. All of the people appointed in this chapter were singers and musicians skilled and anointed not only to sing known songs and hymns but to compose on the spot sponateous songs, instrumentation and melody to extol the Lord’s mercies and praise Him in the beauty of holiness.
9 Now the first lot came forth for Asaph to Joseph: the second to Gedaliah, who with his brethren and sons [were] twelve: 10 The third to Zaccur, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 11 The fourth to Izri, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 12 The fifth to Nethaniah, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 13 The sixth to Bukkiah, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 14 The seventh to Jesharelah, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 15 The eighth to Jeshaiah, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 16 The ninth to Mattaniah, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 17 The tenth to Shimei, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 18 The eleventh to Azareel, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 19 The twelfth to Hashabiah, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 20 The thirteenth to Shubael, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 21 The fourteenth to Mattithiah, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 22 The fifteenth to Jeremoth, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 23 The sixteenth to Hananiah, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 24 The seventeenth to Joshbekashah, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 25 The eighteenth to Hanani, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 26 The nineteenth to Mallothi, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 27 The twentieth to Eliathah, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 28 The one and twentieth to Hothir, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 29 The two and twentieth to Giddalti, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 30 The three and twentieth to Mahazioth, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve: 31 The four and twentieth to Romamtiezer, [he], his sons, and his brethren, [were] twelve.
I think in some ways modern worship has lost the quality of the new song. I remember growing up in the Charismatic movement when the congregation would spontaneously sing a new song to the Lord. Sometimes this was done in tongues and at other times in our known language. The melodies and the sounds of whole congregations bubbling forth prophetically in new song was captivating and always left me with a deep sense of awe and of God’s presence. Can you imagine the Shekinah of God resonating over the mercy seat and responding to the rythyms and melodies of spontaeous song, instrumentation and praise before the Lord. What a privileged and blessed people they must have been yet how inexplicable to us that they would have known the glory of God in such a way and yet so often turned to idolatry and sin.
The Heman mentioned in this chapter is another named given in scripture for the prophet Gad. His daughters are included with his 14 sons because they were a part of the appointed choir and musicians to bring forth instrumention and song before the Lord. Asaph had four sons that were included and Jeduthun’s six children totaling again the number 24 which is the number of Davidic courses the Levites we divided into and the number of the elders before the throne of God in Revelation.
The total number of singers and musicians was 288 who were directly involved in singing or playing of instruments as leaders furthermore being accompanied by assistants, backup musicians and singers numbering a total of over 4000 serving in a rotation of ministry in song week by week. Dividing the number of square feet in the temple but the number of musicians tells us for every square foot of the temple there were 80 musicians and singers appointed over it! God is a God of song. He has put song on the inside of us. We should seek to explore and give expression to the song of the Lord in our hearts.
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