I Chronicles 23

 

 

This chapter is the first of four employed on the subject of the Levites and

the services distributed among them. The twenty-four orders of priests,

sons of Aaron, occupy ch. 24. The twenty-four orders of the singers and

musicians occupy the contents of ch. 25. And the divisions of the porters,

with their gates; and of those Levites who had the keeping of the treasures

of the house of God; and the officers and judges, fill up ch. 26. After which

the compiler is again awhile clear of the Levitical tribe.

 

Returning to our present chapter, it gives an account of the numbers of the

Levites, of their classification, of David’s fresh arrangement of them and

fresh distribution of their work (vs. 1-6). But altogether the largest

portion of the chapter (vs. 6-32) is occupied with the rehearsal of the

heads of houses composing the four Levite families, and their offices.

 

 

       The Numbering and the Classification of the Levites (vs. 1-5)

 

1 “So when David was old and full of days, he made Solomon his son

king over Israel.” These words give the key note of what remains in this book.

David made his son king, as he himself acknowledges (ch.28:5), under the

superintending direction of God. The manner in which the formal event

was precipitated by the conduct of Adonijah is found at length in I Kings 1:11-53.

The original occasion alluded to there more than once, on which David promised,

and sware to Bathsheba, that her son should be his chief heir and successor

to the throne, is not distinctly recorded. We can easily assign one convenient place

in the history for it to have found monition, viz. in II Samuel 12:25. The brevity of

the statement which composes this verse, when compared with all the deeply

interesting matter recorded in I Kings 1:11-53, is one among many other very

clear illustrations of the purposed silence of our present history in certain directions.

 

2 “And he gathered together all the princes of Israel, with the priests

and the Levites.” As on an occasion of supreme importance, David,

in view of his own death and of his son’s succession at the present time,

calls together the full council, and the highest possible representative

council of the nation. So ch.22:17; 24:6; 25:1; in which last passage the word

captains should have have been rendered “princes” (yric). The arrangement

of the Levites, and the distribution of their functions in the presence of the princes,

as here described, and as it is even more strongly put (ch.25:1), “by” them, simply

points to the fact that the ultimate outer authority, as between Church and state, lay

with the state. The Church was made for it, not it for the Church. And it was

 the duty of the state to defend the Church.

 

 

3 ‘Now the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and

upward:” -  The thing which Joab had rightly resisted (ch. 21:3-6) and shrunk from

doing was now rightly done. There was now a practical and a legitimate object for

doing it. This consideration helps to determine what it was that “displeased the Lord”

in the former general census of David. In connection with this clause, ch.27:23 should

be noted, where we read, “But David took not the number of them from twenty

years old and under: because the Lord had said He would increase Israel like to

the stars of the heavens.” The period from the age of thirty years up to fifty

(Numbers 4:3,23,35,39) was fixed under Moses, for those “that came to do the

 service of the ministry, and the service of the burden in the tabernacle of the

congregation (Ibid. v. 47). It is not certain, however, that this census did not

inquire, in point of fact, respecting some below this limit of age. For we may note

v. 24 in the first place, and this is partly explained by Numbers 8:23-25 -  and

their number by their polls, man by man, was thirty and eight thousand.”

The number “thirty and eight thousand” of our present verse may be compared

with the “eight thousand and five hundred and four score” of Numbers 4:47-48.

It is to be observed how promptly the national council did on this

occasion commence with the arrangement of the ministers of religion, “the

Levites.” As we read (Ibid. ch.4:3) of “thirty years” of age as the

appointed age for the commencement of their ministry, and (Ibid. ch.7:3) of the

present or “offering” of “six covered wagons and twelve oxen,” which the

twelve “princes of Israel, heads of the house of their fathers, princes of the

tribes,” offered “before the Lord,” which greatly lessened the laborious work

of the Levites; so we find the commencing age reduced from time to time, to

twenty-five” years (Ibid. ch.8:24), and to “twenty years” of age, as in our

present chapter (vs. 24-28).

 

4 “Of which, twenty and four thousand were to set forward” -   (Hebrew j"Xen"l],

Piel conjugation). The strict meaning of the word here is to superintend. The word

has already occurred in the same sense in ch.15:21 - “the work of the house of the

LORD; and six thousand were officers and judges:  (Hebrew

μyfip]vow] μyrim]vow]). The explanation of the nature of the work of these, as

really outward work, for the “outward business of Israel,” is distinctly

stated in ch.26:29; II Chronicles 19:5-11. These officers are mentioned under the

same Hebrew term in Exodus 5:6, in a very different connection. It is plain that they

were generally foremen, or overseers; while the judges took cognizance of matters

which involved the interests of religion. This verse and the following give between

them the four divisions of Levites, afterwards to be more fully described. The fuller

account of the “twenty-four thousand” priests (including attendants)

occupies ch. 24.; the “six thousand” officers and judges, ch.26:20-32; the

four thousand” porters, (Ibid. vs.1-19; and the “four thousand who praised

the Lord with the instruments,” ch. 25.

 

5 “Moreover four thousand were porters;” -  (Hebrew μyri[]vo); doorkeepers.

The word is so translated in ch.15:23-24. It was the duty of these to keep

the entrances of the sanctuary, by day and night, in their courses (see also II Kings

7:10-11). The Chaldaic equivalent of this word is [r;T; (Ezra 7:24; Daniel 2:49).

There is no connection between either the word or idea we have here, and those

of Psalm 84:11, where the Hithp. conjugation of pps; is used, and the sense of

residence probably intended to be conveyed -“and four thousand praised

the LORD with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise

therewith.”  Possibly the quotation of a short sentence often on David’s lips.

Men given to music may have been very conscious of it, in ancient days, as well

as in modern.  The language, however, does not necessarily assert that David

claimed the inventing or in any similar sense the making of these musical

instruments, but that he appointed them for the service of praise. What some

of them were may be seen in II Chronicles 5:12 — “cymbals, psalteries, harps,

trumpets(see also II Chronicles 29:25-27; Nehemiah 12:35-36; Amos 6:5).

 

6 “And David divided them into courses among the sons of Levi, namely,

Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.” Here begin the families of the Levites, as

arranged in courses by David. These arrangements were scrupulously observed

by Solomon (II Chronicles 8:14; 29:25).

 

 

Orderliness Required in God’s Service (v.6)

 

The chronicler here reviews the arrangements made by David for the

efficient conducting of Divine service in the tabernacle and temple, and the

importance of order in worship is suggested for our consideration.

 

·        SUCH ORDERLINESS SECURES DUE PREPARATION.

Anything like hurry is unsuitable in connection with Divine worship

and work. Each man should know beforehand his place. “Hands should

be laid on no man suddenly.” (I Timothy 5:22).  Seriousness, quietness,

and thoughtfulness ARE PROPER IN THE HOUSE OF GOD.   Now

men need to “sanctify themselves” (v.15) by meditation and prayer before

going to the temple, just as the old priests and Levites did.

 

·        SUCH ORDERLINESS AIDS THE DEVOTION OF THE

WORSHIPPERS. Stillness and regular occupations that do not call off

the attention or disturb meditation are important helps to worshippers.

Remember Keble’s lines on the sacramental season —

 

“Sweet awful hour! the only sound     

One gentle footstep gliding round,

Offering by turns on Jesus’ part

The cross to every band and heart.”

 

·        SUCH ORDERLINESS GIVES RIGHT TONE TO WORSHIP.

Show here how distinct the idea of worship is from mere sermon-hearing,

or mere receiving of religious instruction, or exciting of religious feeling.

Worship should take us wholly out of the self-sphere, and set us in the

God-sphere. And order, quiet, the beautiful in form and expression, are

important associations of worship. Illustrate by the way in which our

feelings are toned on entering the cathedral or sharing in stately cathedral

service. No section of Christian people can safely neglect this element of

orderliness; and each Christian worshipper should personally and anxiously

aid in its maintenance. Here some of the forms in which modern worship

fails may be dealt with: these will differ as apprehended by members of the

different religious communities. “Order is Heaven’s first law.” Order is

man’s witness for God, who rules and tones all things. Order may be the

characteristic feature of all worship, whatever may be its form — whether

it be severe as the Puritanic, or artistic as the Roman Catholic. Illustrate by

the moral influence exerted by the well-ordered home, and its relation to

the comfort, peace, and good culture of the family.

 

7 “Of the Gershonites were, Laadan, and Shimei.”  The heads of the houses

of the first Levite family, viz., of Gershon, are now enumerated. The subject

occupies the five verses that close with the eleventh. The family of Gershon branches

into two — the name of the one Laadan (so written again in ch.26:21; but in

ch. 6:17, 20, as well as in Exodus 6:17 and Numbers 3:18, written Libui), and t

he name of the other Shimei.

 

8 “The sons of Laadan; the chief was Jehiel, and Zetham, and Joel, three.”

This verse contains the names of the three so-called sons of Laadan, but

(ch. 26:22) the last two appear to have been grandsons.

 

9 “The sons of Shimei; Shelomith, and Haziel, and Haran, three.

These were the chief of the fathers of Laadan.”  This verse purports to give

the three sons of Shimei, but not the Shimei of v. 7, but of a descendant of

Laadan. This is made clear, not only by the remaining clause of this verse, which

says, “These were the chief of the fathers of Landau,” and again by the

enumeration in v. 10 of sons of that Shimei who is coupled with Landau in v. 7,

but also by a comparison of ch.24:22; 26:21-26. It is, of course, possible that the

name stands here in error for some other name, but the supposition is gratuitous.

 

10 “And the sons of Shimei were, Jahath, Zina, and Jeush, and Beriah.

These four were the sons of Shimei.”  (See Zechariah 12:13.) The Zina of

this verse is Zizah in the very next verse, which difference of form cannot be

accounted for by any mere clerical explanation. The name Jahath seems to have

been a favorite name in this family (ch.6:43).

 

11 “And Jahath was the chief, and Zizah the second: but Jeush and

Beriah had not many sons; therefore they were in one reckoning,” -

The Hebrew of the word here translated “reckoning” is hD;qup], i.e.

 enumeration.” The meaning is they were accounted as only one “father’s house.”

The derivative significations of the word are “care,” “custody,” and generally “office”

(II Chronicles 23:18). The total of Gershonite houses will amount to nine, three of

These being houses of Shimei, and six of Laadan -  according to their father’s

house.”

 

12 “The sons of Kohath; Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, four.”This and

the following eight verses give the Kohath heads of houses (ch.6:2-3,18;

Exodus 6:18; Numbers 3:27), four in their leading divisions.

 

13 “The sons of Amram;” - From Amram, the first-mentioned son of

Kohath, come the two great names of “Aaron and Moses: (Exodus 6:20) –

and Aaron was separated, that he should sanctify the most holy things,

he and his sons for ever,” -  This statement must be read, both with v. 3 —

into the number of Levites mentioned in which Aaron and his sons do not count —

and with v. 14, which implies that Moses and his sons did count into that number.

The sons of Aaron are dealt with in ch.24:1-19, infra -  that he should sanctify

the most holy things,” -  The Hebrew text renders it doubtful whether the

rendering here should not rather be, “Aaron was separated to sanctify him

as most holy,” etc. If it be so, this is the only place where the forcible term,

holy of holies” (most holy), is used of Aaron - “to burn incense before

the LORD, to minister unto Him, and to bless in His name for ever.”

The duties of the priest are described as threefold, in this place, viz.: “to burn

incense before the Lord,” — this will carry the idea of making atonement;

to minister to God,” on behalf of man, ¯ this will be one part of the work of

a mediator; and “to bless in the Name of God,” — this will fulfill the remaining

part. For ever -  The proviso may, no doubt, include reference to the “ever-living

High Priest.” The threefold summary of solemn and beneficent duties receives ample

illustration from many passages, and in special connection with the names

of Aaron and his sons (Exodus 28:1,38,43; 29:1,35,44; 30:7-10; Numbers 6:22-27). 

 

 

Separation and Consecration (v.13)

 

Aaron was separated in order that he might be consecrated to the

sanctifying of the most holy things” (see Exodus 28.). All of us should be

consecrated, but some of us may be also called and separated unto some

special service. Expressing the consecrated separateness of Christian

believers, Peter says, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual

house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to

God by Jesus Christ” (ch.2:5).

 

·        THE DIVINE REQUIREMENT OF CHARACTER. Personal

holiness and the refined culture of all faculty and virtue are necessary

if we would serve God in any sphere. It should be distinctly apprehended

that God calls to His service not mens powers, but men with their powers,

and so a man’s character God wants consecrated for Him and to Him.

 

·        THE DIVINE ELECTION TO SERVICE. Much of the difficulty felt

concerning God’s election has arisen from our fixing attention on election

to privilege, and setting in quite the background election to service. But

God puts first “election to service,” and bases such election on the known

fitness of particular men for particular work. The attendant “privilege” is

little more than the accident attending on, or the reward given to, faithful

service. Aaron was honored by his place and sphere of work.

 

·        THE DIVINE SEPARATION TO PARTICULAR SERVICE. God

condescends to the minutest things, and fits His people for the smallest

places. We easily recognize the Divine call of men upon emergencies, and

the special call of the men of genius in every age; but we should feel that

every one of us, in the family, the Church, and the world, is called of

 God, and separated unto his particular work; and “every man,

 wherein he is called, should therein abide with God.” (I Corinthians

7:24).

 

·        THE RELATION OF ALL SEPARATED ONES TO THE WHOLE.

Each, in his separated sphere, is to become an example, and so a

sanctifying power, upon the rest. There is a tendency in us all to feel the

force of an example shown in some other sphere than our own, and in this

way each one of us exerts a real influence on the whole. Aaron pleaded by

his example for the sanctified life of every Israelite. Common consecration

to God, and openness to yield to all Divine calls and separations, are

the secrets of deliverance from all jealousies and envies.

 

14 “Now concerning Moses the man of God,” -  This title is distinguished by the

presence of the article. The ‘Speaker’s Commentary’ mentions it as occurring only

nine times, of which five instances belong to Moses (Deuteronomy 33:1; Joshua 14:6;

II Chronicles 30:16; Ezra 3:2; with the present place); three instances show the title

applied to David (II Chronicles 8:14; Nehemiah 12:24, 36); and once it is applied to

Shemaiah (I Kings 12:22) - “his sons were named of the tribe of Levi.” Although

the sons of Moses belonged, as is here said,  to the tribe of Levi, they did not belong

to that portion which discharged priestly duties

 

15 “The sons of Moses were, Gershom, and Eliezer.”  We read of the birth of

Gershom to Moses and Zipporah (Exodus 2:22; see also 18:4, where Eliezer is

also spoken of).

 

16 “Of the sons of Gershom, Shebuel was the chief.” Shebuel (compare

ch.24:20, where the name appears as Shubael; and 26:24).

 

17 “And the sons of Eliezer were, Rehabiah the chief. And Eliezer had

none other sons; but the sons of Rehabiah were very many.” Rehabiah.

He was the chief (varh;); but it happened that he was also the only son. Hence

it is added in antithesis that his sons were very many (see the name again, ch.26:25).

The non-priestly Amramites are therefore seen to correspond with the houses of

Shebuel and Rehabiah.

 

18 “Of the sons of Izhar; Shelomith the chief.” - While six names in all are

mentioned under Amram,  only one, Shelomith, is found under his next brother,

Izhar.  This Shelomith (spelt Shelomoth in ch.24:22) is not the same with the

Shelomith of ch.26:25-26.

 

19 “Of the sons of Hebron; Jeriah the first, Amariah the second, Jahaziel

the third, and Jekameam the fourth.” Hebron. This third son  of Kohath

furnishes four houses. So again in ch. 24:23)

 

20 “Of the sons of Uzziel; Micah the first and Jesiah the second.”

Jesiah; in ch. 24:25 written Isshiah. The two houses from Uzziel given in this

verse make up the number of houses from Kohath to nine (as given again in

Ibid. vs.20-24), and to these must be added the priests through Aaron and his

sons, two houses, making in all eleven.

 

21 “The sons of Merari; Mahli, and Mushi. The sons of Mahli; Eleazar,

and Kish.”  This and the following two verses give the houses of Merari,

contributing four houses, and, with the nine Gershonite and eleven

Kohathite, adding up to twenty-four. Merari is the third son of Levi

(Genesis 46:11). The Mahli and Mushi of this verse were possibly

grandson and son of Merari, if we follow the guidance of ch.. 6:47. Yet it

would seem far more natural to explain this last-quoted passage by our v. 23,

which would then parallel it. Otherwise we must account for the name of Mahli

habitually standing first, as here, as in ch.6:19 also, and ch.24:26, as also in

Exodus 6:19; Numbers 3:20,33, etc.; in all of which places the statement is as

distinct as in this verse, that Mahli and Mushi were sons. This and the

following verse must be compared particularly with ch.24:26-29; the Jaaziah

of which passage was evidently no son of Merari, on a par with Mahli and Mushi,

but a later descendant. His descendants were three — Shoham, Zaccur, and Ibri

(Beno being no proper name, but signifying “his son”).

 

22 “And Eleazar died, and had no sons, but daughters: and their

brethren the sons of Kish took them.” - i.e. their kinsmen, as margin,

took them” to wife (Numbers 36:5-12). (For the sons of Kish, see

ch. 24:29.)

 

23 “The sons of Mushi; Mahli, and Eder, and Jeremoth, three.”

(compare ch.24:30).

 

24 “These were the sons of Levi after the house of their fathers; even

the chief of the fathers, as they were counted by number of names

by their polls, that did the work for the service of the house of the

LORD, from the age of twenty years and upward.” This and the remaining

verses of the chapter contain some general provisions regarding the offices and

future work of the Levites — in part David’s last edition of such provisions.

(On the present verse compare Numbers 1:1-4; 4:1-3, 21-23, 29-30; 8:23-26.)

It is not easy to reconcile this verse with v. 3. Keil cuts the knot at once by

supposing the “thirty” years of v. 3 to be the error of a copyist, to whose memory

the Mosaic census was present. And with Bertheau, he objects to the

supposition that this verse describes a supplementary census, in conformity

with “David’s last words” (v. 27), and as contrasted with his former

directions. With the exception of what is contained in vs. 25-27, it is true

that these do not offer themselves sufficient indications to make one feel

confident of this explanation. On the other hand, to set down the number

thirty” in v. 3 at once to the mistake of a copyist is too summary and

convenient a way of escaping an awkward difficulty. It is evident that the

following three verses do purport to explain why at this time the age of

allowable service was altered to a standard so much lower than of old, and

to assert that this alteration was recognized by the last orders of David.

 

Work that Young People May Do (v.24)

 

The time of Levitical service dated from the age of thirty, but service of particular

kinds was accepted from those as young as twenty. Some things are beyond the

young people. They could not do them well. They require gifts and maturity which

the young do not possess. It is well for them to learn what is within their reach —

what they may do, and what they may not do.

 

·        YOUNG PEOPLE SHOULD ACCEPT THE FACT OF THEIR

LIMITED POWER AND LIMITED FITNESS. This would check

their characteristic disposition to over self-confidence.

 

·        YOUNG PEOPLE SHOULD ESTIMATE FAIRLY THE MEASURE

OF THEIR POWER, and so work up to their highest limit. John gives

his advice to young men “because they are strong.  (I John 2:14)

 

·        YOUNG PEOPLE SHOULD HOLD ALL THEIR POWERS AT

GOD’S SERVICE, seeing that He asks for life’s morning as well as life’s

noontide.  (“My son, give me thine heart!” – (Proverbs 23:26)

“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth while the evil

 days come not nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have

no pleasure in them.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

 

·        YOUNG PEOPLE SHOULD BE SURE THAT THERE ARE

SPHERES OF SERVICE EXACTLY MATCHING THEIR POWERS.

And they should be watching, ever ready to enter upon all such.

In the faithful doing of the least things of our youth-time alone lies our

hope of training for the undertaking of more and better work as manly

powers unfold. The noblest of God’s workers HAVE CONSECRATED

THEIR YOUTH-TIME TO HIS SERVICE!

 

25 “For David said,” -  The “for” of this clause cannot be supposed

to account exclusively for the inclusion in the census of Levites beginning

from the age of twenty years; it accounts no doubt for the whole

proceeding. Since there would be no more journeying for people, for

buildings, or for sacred vessels, it was now fully time to organize religious

duty and “the service of the house of God” in a manner adapted to

permanent institutions. In order to this, the first step was to know and to

arrange the number of those who were answerable for sacred duties –

“The LORD God of Israel hath given rest unto His people, that

they may dwell in Jerusalem for ever:”

 

26 “And also unto the Levites;” -  Emphasis is laid on the thought of

the relief that permanent habitation in Jerusalem conferred on the Levites

over and above the whole body of the rest of the people. They will no

more be mere burden-bearers, though the burdens they bore were of the

most sacred character -“they shall no more carry the tabernacle,

nor any vessels of it for the service thereof.”

 

27 “For by the last words of David” -  Although there are many instances of

the expression, “the words of” David or some other king, as equivalent to

his “doings” (ch.29:29; II Chronicles 9:29), and not a few instances of the

same phrase, standing for the “account” or “history’ of any one (ch.27:24;

29:29, three times; II Chronicles 9:29), the expression here may rather parallel

passages like II Samuel 23:1; II Chronicles 29:30 -“the Levites were

numbered from twenty years old and above:”

 

28 “Because their office” -  i.e. probably the office or position of all,

including the younger Levites. The development and greater detail of their

varied duties, as the working staff of the “sons of Aaron,” are alluded to

here; and how priests, Levites, and Nethinim (ch.9:2) all now formally undertook

the whole range and scope of their functions is suggested. The work of these

assistants of the “sons of Aaron” is detailed in three or four items, so far as

this verse goes. was to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the

house of the LORD, in the courts, and in the chambers, and in the

purifying of all holy things, and the work of the service of the house

of God;”  They are first generally for the sacred service of the house of the

Lord. That sacred service is in the matter of the courts (Exodus 27:9; I Kings

6:36; Conder’s’ Bible Handbook,’ pp. 376-378, 2nd edit.); of the chambers

(ch.9:26; Ezekiel 40:17; 42:1; Nehemiah 10:38; Conder’s ‘Bible Handbook,’

 pp. 376, 380); of the purifying of all holy things: and of the work, i.e. the

performing of the sacred service of the house of God.

 

29 “Both for the shewbread,” -  Seven other specifications of service are

continued in this verse, with which we may compare ch. 9:26-32. For the

shewbread. The first mention of shewbread is found in Exodus 25:30. The

directions for making it are found in Leviticus 24:5-9. The twelve unleavened

cakes of which it consisted, heaped on the table in two piles, represented the

twelve tribes, and intimated the Divine acceptance of the offerings of each faithful

tribe (see also II Chronicles 13:11) - “and for the fine flour for meat offering,”

This is spoken of in Exodus 29:40; Leviticus 2:1-7; 6:14-15, 19-27; 23:13; 24:5 –

and for the unleavened cakes, and for that which is baked in the

pan, and for that which is fried,” - These are spoken of in Leviticus 2:4-7 -  

“and for all manner of measure and size; - Hebrew hD;miW hr,Wcm]Alk;l]W.

These two words occur also in Leviticus 19:35-36, where they are rendered

respectively “in measure” and “in meteyard.” Perhaps the exacter rendering

here would be “for all matters of liquid and solid measure.”

 

30 “And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and

likewise at even:”  (so v. 13 of this chapter and ch.25:7). Though Bertheau sees

no special sign in the connection for this description to be confined to the

four thousand whose special work and privilege it was, yet it is in entire

analogy with the whole context so to confine it.

 

 

The Mission of Those Who Praise (v.30)

 

Some were to “stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and

likewise at even.” This was the special work of certain of the younger

Levites, whose voices retained their tone and power. They formed a choir

to aid in the interest and beauty of Divine service. As this subject has been

somewhat fully dealt with in previous outline homilies, we do but suggest a

new framework, which the earlier materials will enable the reader to clothe.

Deal with the mission of church choirs and singing bands, and show:

 

·        THEIR MISSION TO GIVE EXPRESSION TO OTHERS’

FEELINGS, and to strengthen them by expression.

 

·        THEIR MISSION TO INTEREST OTHERS IN DIVINE THINGS.

 

·        THEIR MISSION IN AROUSING OTHERS TO RELIGIOUS

ANXIETY, as with the singing of revival hymns.

 

Then press the importance of cultured spiritual fitness for the efficient

fulfillment of this mission. They who sing for the religious helping and

teaching of men must themselves be sincere, devout, earnest, and pious. It

is as true of this as of any other form of Christian service, that “we can

only kindle fire when we are ourselves on fire.” “In order to the high result

intended, THE MUSIC OF RELIGION MUST BE RELIGIOUS.   There

must be a distinction of sounds. As this language is given for the heart, it becomes

a first principle that it must be of the heart, else it is an unknown tongue.

And so true is this, that nothing can really fulfill the idea of religious music

which is not the breathing of true love and worship. Even instruments

without life will not speak the true notes of power unless the touch of faith

is on them, and the breath of holy feeling is in them; how much less the

voice itself, whose very qualities of sound are inevitably toned by the

SECRET FEELING OF THE SPIRIT!   

 

 

Morning and Evening Praise (v.30)

 

The work of the Levites was “to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service

of the house of the Lord” (v.28).  It was, therefore, to some extent servile and

menial. Yet the work was dignified and hallowed by the fact that it was

truly rendered to THE GOD OF ISRAEL, THE LORD OF ALL!  The

function, however, described in the text is the most honorable that can be

performed by man.  The glorified assembly above, the angelic hosts before the

throne, are thus perpetually occupied.

 

  • THE OFFICE ITSELF OF PRAISE. The Levites were doubtless

organized by David, as never before. His poetical and musical gilts were

consecrated to the praise of Jehovah. His psalms from that time forward

became the vehicle of human thanksgiving and adoration. The

instruments of music which he appointed became essential to the

ecclesiastical orchestra of the temple. And whilst thanks and praise

are due from all intelligent beings to the God of providence, the

human race has a special song to present, a special service to offer —

THANKS AND PRAISE TO THE GOD OF ALL GRACE AND

SALVATION!

 

  • THE PERIODICAL OFFERING OF PRAISE. It was appointed for

the Levites to stand, in due order and according to their courses, in the

presence of Jehovah. And every morning and every evening the

 sacrifice of praise was offered as regularly as the burnt offering

itself. How suitable was this arrangement must be apparent to every

reflecting mind. Each day brings with it new favors, (Lamentations

3:22-23) which should be welcomed with a grateful song. Each

evening summons us to record renewed instances of Divine mercy

and forbearance, FOR WHICH THE GIVER OF ALL GOOD

SHOULD BE WARMLY PRAISED!  “It is a good thing

to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto the

Name of the Most High.”  It is desireable to have a period of

Regular daily devotions “To show forth His loving-kindness

in the morning and His faithfulness every night.” 

 

31 “And to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the LORD in the sabbaths, in

the new moons, and on the set feasts, by number, according to the

order commanded unto them, continually before the LORD:”

And to offer; Hebrew, “and for all the offering of burnt offerings.” For

other references to the help which the Levites gave in the matter of the burnt

offerings, and for the number ( Numbers 28:1-31) of them, see Ibid. ch. 29:2-34;

II Chronicles 29:32-34; 35:2-12. The priests alone performed  the actual sacrifices.

The set feasts. These refer to the three:

 

o       the Passover (Leviticus 23:4-5);

o       the Pentecost (Ibid. vs.15-17);

o       the Feast of Tabernacles (Ibid. vs.33-37).

 

32 “And that they should keep the charge of the tabernacle of the

congregation, and the charge of the holy place, and the charge of

the sons of Aaron their brethren, in the service of the house of the

LORD.”   This concluding verse is equivalent to a quotation from

Numbers 18:1-7; in the first verse of which passage Aaron and the

priests generally are reminded both of their representative character and

position, and of the solemn responsibility which rested on them.

 

 

The Sacred Tribe: Their Service and Ours (vs. 2-32)

 

  • THE SPECIAL SERVICE WHICH THE LEVITES RENDERED

TO ISRAEL. This was four-fold:

 

Ø      Assisting at the service of sacrifice. They were “to set forward the

work of the house of the Lord” (v. 4); “their office was to wait on the

sons of Aaron for the service of the house of the Lord,” (vs. 28-29);

to offer [i.e. to help at the offering of] all burnt sacrifices,” (vs. 31-32).

 

Ø      Rendering the service of praise. Four thousand of them praised the

Lord,  (v. 5). These were to stand every morning and evening to

thank and praise the Lord (v. 30).

 

Ø      Administration of civic business and pacification: “officers and

judges(v. 4).

 

Ø      Guardianship of the gates; preserving from profanation, and so

from Divine displeasure: “porters,” i.e. gatekeepers (v. 5).

 

  • THE CHANGES WHICH OCCUR IN THE FORM OF SERVICE.

Even under the same dispensation occasional changes occurred of the way

in which God was served. An instance and indication of this is found here.

The Levites had no more need to carry the tabernacle from place to place;

they thus laid down one of their most solemn and important functions

(vs. 25-26). They were also henceforth to be numbered from twenty

(instead of thirty) years of age (vs. 27-28). And, further, they entered

now on the service of instrumental music, systematically arranged (vs. 5,

30). If such minor changes occurred in the same era of religions history,

how much greater changes in the order of service might we expect to find

when one dispensation gave place to another, when the Law was lost in the

gospel? Such we do find. We look, therefore, at:

 

  • OUR CORRESPONDING SERVICE UNDER CHRIST.

 

Ø      In the matter of sacrifice, the Levites cannot properly be said to have

any successors; for, the one all-sufficient atonement having been

offered, there is no sacrifice to be presented, and, there being no

officiating priest and no altar “in Christ Jesus,” there is needed no

ministering Levite. Only that we are all to be priests and Levites in

that we are all to present “spiritual sacrifices” (ch. 2:5) of prayer and

praise, and of “doing good and communicating,” (Hebrews 13:16),

continually unto Him. However, there are humbler services to be

rendered, needful work to be done, “for the service of the house of

the Lord” (v. 24); and in this useful and worthy ministry, those

who take their part cheerfully and do their work faithfully are

approved of Him.”

 

Ø      In the matter of praise, the Levites find their successors in

 

o       those who teach and lead in the service of song in the

Christian sanctuary;

 

o       all who join in and thus encourage others in that service.

And they who do their best to perfect the praises of God —

understanding by that not only attaining to the perfect scientific

form of service, but reaching the moral and spiritual ideal of a

service in which the music of the instrument and of the voice is

subordinated to the melody of the heart (Ephesians 5:19),

these render an invaluable ministry to the Church of Christ.

 

o       In respect of administration (officers and judges), as

ecclesiastical law has given place to civil law, this function

of Jehovah’s servants has passed into other hands; yet perhaps

they who are peacemakers between their fellows and help to

decide disputes between brethren may be said to be the

judges” of the present time.

 

o       As to guardianship of the gates, with the open throne of grace

and access at all times to all men, there is little room for us to

perpetuate this work of the Levite. But we can, and should,

take great pains to preserve the spirit of reverence and pure

devotion in the hearts of all who come to WORSHIP CHRIST!

 

 

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