I Chronicles 25



In this chapter we see the list of twenty-four orders of musicians in the order

determined by lot. The lot was a direct appeal to God, and by it all cases

were decided. It is for this reason that all chance games are wrong, and

should never be encouraged by the Christian. It is brining down a holy

ordinance to a profane level, and is, without doubt, a breach of the third

commandment. The expression “prophesied,” which occurs in vs. 2 and 3, is

used in its deeper signification of singing and playing to the praise of God, in the

power of the Spirit of God. In v.5 Heman is called “the seer of the king in the

words of God,” because along with his gift of song he was endowed with the

prophetic gift, and thus made known to the king revelations of God. The expression

to lift up the horn” in this verse also needs explanation. The Levites did not blow

horns. It was not one of the instruments of worship. The hiring up of the

horn signifies invariably to heighten or show forth the power of any one.

This is the meaning of the word in this passage. And the words “to lift up

the horn” must be connected with the words that follow, thus: “To give

Heman’s race power for the praise of God.  God gave to Heman fourteen

sons and three daughters. We also learn, in v.7, that there were those who were

instructed,” and were “cunning” or skilful in the songs of the Lord. From

these passages we may learn that families, and especially large families like Heman’s,

are God’s gifts for the purpose of being used in His service. And secondly, that in

all praise and singing, whilst we are never to forget the apostolic injunction, “Singing

and making melody in your hearts to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19), we are to

sing with the understanding also,” and that it is to be of the very best kind; and that

with it all there must be that without which it will be empty sound — singing in the

Holy Ghost, as they did who are named in vs. 2-3.  Thus “teachers” and “scholars”

(v. 8) will fill their divinely appointed places to the glory of God.



The Families of the Three Chiefs in Song (vs. 1-8)


The twenty-four courses of those who were to be engaged in the temple service as

singers and musicians fill up this chapter. They are to be taken from the three great

families of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun.


1 “Moreover David and the captains of the host” -  For the captains of the host,

as designating those who superintended the order of temple worship, see ch.22:17;

23:2; 24:6; as also Numbers 4:3; 8:23 - “separated to the service of the sons of

Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun,” -   (For a clear instance of the use of the

preposition (lamed) prefixed, as here, see Ezra 8:24.) The English should appear

the sons of Asaph.” Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun belonged respectively to the

Gershon, Kohath, and Merarite families (ch.6:18-32). Thus these singers and musicians

were drawn from each great branch of Levi; viz. from Gershon, four through Asaph; from

Kohath, six through Jeduthun; and from Merari, fourteen through Heman; while the



whole number of those trained to sing was two hundred and eighty-eight - “who

should prophesy” -  The Hebrew μyaiB]Gih" (Jeremiah 14:14,16) stands for Niphal

participle plural, the singular of which (aB;Nj") appears in the following two verses. These

were the utterers in song of the Divine mind and will. The essential meaning of the

expression evidently is to use the voice in sacred service, more or less under Divine

impulse“with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals:” -  These instruments were

used to regulate the time (compare this verse with ch.13:8). For some particulars

respecting these and other musical instruments used in Israel at this time, the article

“Music” in Smith’s ‘ Bible Dictionary’ may be consulted with advantage (below – CY – 2012).

 “and the number of the workmen according to their service was:” The literal

translation of the last clause of this verse is, And was their number, the men of work,

for their service, i.e. “And the number of workmen for the service was.” The workmen

 intend, of course, those who performed the service.


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.”  Four sons of Asaph are here given, the number, however,

not being expressed, although it is expressed in the cases of Jeduthun and Heman

(vs. 3, 5). “For Asaph,” we find twelve psalms inscribed, viz. Psalm 1.; 73-83.;

of some of which he was himself the inspired composer. When it is said “for Asaph,”

the meaning is for those “under his hand,” or direction, and who as a band bore his

name, and performed among other odes those which he prophesied. Zaccur. A

descendant after the Return is mentioned in Nehemiah 12:35. Asarelah. This last

of the four sons of Asaph is called in v.14, Jesharelah. Under the hands of…

 according to the order of. The Hebrew words are “to the hand of” and “to the

hands of.” Between the signification of these two forms, the one expressed in the

singular number and the ether in the plural, there does not seem to be any

distinction, and accordingly they might be better translated, under the

direction ofunder the directions of. The latter form is that found in vs. 3, 6.


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.” Six sons are here said to be under the direction of

Jeduthun (or Ethan, ch. 6:44). The name missing is Shimei, supplied by

v.17, and which the Alexandrine Septuagint places fourth in this list.

This is clear from the list of vs. 9-31, which contains all the same names

as are found in the present vs. 2-4, and one more, Shimei, which

therefore offers to supply the place vacant here. The name Zeri reappears

in v.11 as Izri -  Who prophesied (see headings to Psalm 39.; 62.; 77.:

we do not know, however, that Jeduthun composed any of these, nor does

the word “prophesy” necessitate it).



Prophesying with a Harp (vs. 1,3)


“Prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals;” “Who

prophesied with a harp.” The point suggested is that music, which is skill

of hand, may help song, which is skill of voice. The term “prophesying” is

variously employed in the Scriptures. Sometimes it seems to stand, in a

very general way, for sharing in religious worship. At other times the idea

of instructing people in the will of God, as it had been immediately

revealed to the speaker, is prominent. And at yet other times there is

reference to the fore-announcing of coming events. Here, in the passages

before us, the element of instruction is the prominent thing, or the exerting

of a gracious influence on others by music, which should bear direct

relation to the culture of their spiritual life. And this is the proper and the

high function of religious music. Consider:



involves a large view of instruction, as bearing relation to the whole man —

heart and feeling as well as mind. For the purpose of a man’s instruction —

edification, soul-culture — there need not be a direct appeal to his

intelligence, because his receptive faculties are not limited to his intellect;

a man receives even more through feeling than through brain and mind. But

in an age when there is an extravagant worship of knowledge, this point

needs consideration and prominence, in order that better attention may be

paid to the means for reaching the religious sensibility. John Howe has a

sentence which may bear on this possibility of culture otherwise than

through a man’s mind. He says, in one of his most serious moods, “Nor do

I believe it can ever be proved that God never doth immediately testify His

own special love to holy souls without the intervention of some part of His

eternal Word, made use of as a present instrument to that purpose; or that

He always doth it in the way of methodical reasoning therefrom.” It is

plain that in our general education a thousand other influences than the

intellectual reach us and aid us, and other men than those who can be

called intellectual influence us; and we may be sure that the same is true of

the education of our soul’s spiritual life. Let our idea of instruction pass

into the larger, broader thought of culture, edification, and then we see




CULTURE.  By many and various illustrations the refining, ennobling,

educative influence of music may be shown.


Ø      Childhood songs implant the first seeds of good.

Ø      Rhyme bears direct relation to memory, and materially aids the retention

of good sentiments and thoughts.

Ø      Music has a soothing power, as seen in King Saul (I Samuel 16:14-23);

and often becomes a moral preparation for the due reception of instruction

in the milder aspects of truth and the gentler forms of duty.

Ø      Music often finds relieving expression for emotions, either of joy or

of sorrow, which are too intense for language.


“Music!  Oh how faint, how weak —

     Language fades before thy spell!

Why should feeling ever speak,

    When thou canst breathe her soul so well?”


Illustrate by Mendelssohn’s ‘Songs without Words.’


Ø      Music bears direct relation to religious feeling. Sounds of music bear a

twin influence with the sights of nature: both bring home to human

hearts some sense of the eternal harmonies and beauties of the worlds

unseen, and of the glorious God who is above and in them all. Then the

gift of music, as well as song, must lie on God’s altar. Of the earth-

temple, as well as of the heavenly, it must be true, “As well the singers

as the players on instruments shall be there.”  (Psalm 87:7)


4  Of Heman: the sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel,

Shebuel, and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, and

Romamtiezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, and Mahazioth:”

The two names Uzziel and Shebuel, in this verse, reappear

respectively in vs. 18, 20, as Azareel and Shubael. It is remarkable that

the ninth and tenth names of this list, with the twelfth, thirteenth, and

fourteenth, when put together, run into two lines of verse, which may be

translated, “These bestowed great and high help; I have abundantly uttered

oracles.” Ewald suggests that these may be the commencing lines of some

ancient prophet’s oracles (Ewald, ‘Lehrbueh der H. Spr.,’ § 274, S. 672,

7th edit., cited by Keil).


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.”  For the expression, the king’s seer, and as other

instances of the office, see ch. 21:9; II Chronicles 35:15, in neither of

which places, however, have we the attendant phrase, in the words of

God. Yet we have the same sense strictly implied in ch.21:9, 19.

The expression needs not to be generalized into “in the matters of

God,” but evidently describes the seer (Heman, Gad, or Jeduthun) as the

authorized medium of verbal communication between God and the king.

There is difficulty in assigning the right place of the clause, to lift up the

horn. There can be no doubt at all that it contains no allusion whatever to

the horn as an instrument of sound (the almost solitary approach to which

use of the word is found in Joshua 6:5), but that it falls in with the very

frequent figurative use of the phrase as it occurs in the very same words

(Psalm 75:5-6; 89:17, 24; 92:10; 112:9; I Samuel 2:1,10, etc.),

and which means “to add to the strength” or “honor” of any one. The

allusion is to the number of Heman’s children being a mark of the honor

God set on him. The words cannot go with the latter part of the verse,

while the conjunction (vav) in ˆTeYiw" opens it. The possible order may be,

All these sons were to Heman, the kings seer, by the words of God, to lift

up the horn. The absence of the third personal pronoun suffix to ˆr,q, is

noticeable, place the clause where we will The statement of the fourteen

sons and three daughters belonging to Heman, in this verse, shows that

up to this point the word “sons” is used in its stricter sense, however true it

may be that the sense is amplified in vs.10-31.


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.”

This verse needs nothing except exact translation to make its

meaning clear and consistent, “All these (i.e. the names of vs. 2-4) were under

 the hands (directions) of  their father, in the song of the house of the

Lord, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house

of God, under the directions of the king, Asaph, and 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.”  This verse introduces a large additional number of those

called for the present brethren of the foregoing twenty-four. These brethren

(partly composed of their sons, as appears from vs. 9-31) were to aid in

the songs of the Lord, and were apparently under instruction for that

purpose. Each one of the twenty-four had eleven associated subordinates

with him, and for whose instruction and service he was probably

answerable. These would, of course, multiply up to the two hundred four

score and eight mentioned in the verse. This verse appears (contrary to

the interpretation of Keil, Bertheau, and others) with sufficient precision to

mark two classes ryviAydeM]lum], and ˆyBiMeh", the latter not embracing the

former, but the two together making up the two hundred and eighty-eight

spoken of. These two classes will surely satisfy the “teacher and the

scholar” classification of the following verse; the classes are denoted by the

same Hebrew roots. In v. 7 the passive Pual participle of the instructed

and the Hiphil participle of the cunning, or skilled, correspond exactly with

the “scholar” (dymil]t") and the “teacher” (ˆybiMe) of v. 8. The contents of

vs. 9-31 point to the same, being as they are without an allusion to any

other outsiders — to any but the already introduced names of “sons” and

“brethren.” The supposing, therefore, of any allusion here to the “four

thousand” of ch. 23:5 seems unnecessary and unnatural in whatever way they

were distributed — and probably enough it was in an analogous manner —

 no distinct reference is made to them here.



Instruction in Songs (v.7)


It was according to the King David’s order that schools of psalmody were

appointed in connection with Levitical ministrations. He was himself fitted

by temperament, by genius, by piety, by proficiency in art, to found such

schools, and to give them an impulse and inspiration. In the skill and

system with which he gave himself to this work, he showed his far-sighted

wisdom. For out of his labor and care sprang, directly, all Hebrew

minstrelsy of later times, and, indirectly, in no small measure, all Christian




hymns, the chanting of psalms, the vocal rendering of carols, canticles, and

anthems, be mere musical exercise and enjoyment, it is no psalmody in

God’s ear. In acceptable praise THE HEART IS THE ALL-

ESSENTIAL ELEMENT!   David felt this when he exclaimed,

“Sing ye praises with understanding” (Psalm 47:7); and Paul

when he admonished Christians to “make melody with their heart

unto the Lord.”  (Ephesians 5:19)



utterance of praise may be spontaneous. But if it is to be social, such as

many may join in, it must be prepared. Thanksgiving, when it assumes a

permanent shape and finds a social utterance, must come under the control

of the rules of art. Metrical language and melody and harmony thus became

the body of which adoration and gratitude, confidence and love, are the

soul. We see an illustration of these principles in the sacred minstrelsy of

David. He composed devout and spiritual odes, and directed that these

should be sung by trained choirs to the accompaniment of instrumental

music. However different may be the language and the music of our social

praise, we cannot dispense with art. The choice in psalmody does not lie

between spontaneity and art, but between bad art and good. Hence the

perpetual importance of what is called in the text “instruction in the songs

of the Lord.” There must be teaching and teachers, labor and skill,

adaptation to persons and seasons — all alike penetrated by



It is  important to give due attention to “the service of song in the house of

the Lord.”  There is a danger of carelessness and slovenliness, which spring from

and conduce to irreverence, thus desirableness of cultivating a devout and grateful

spirit towards HIM WHO  “inhabiteth the praises of Israel (Psalm 22:3)

and WHO RECEIVES  the unceasing adoration of the heavenly hosts.



Consecrated Song (v.7)


“Instructed in the songs of the Lord, even all that were cunning.” The

general subject of the consecration of song to the Lord’s service has been

dealt with in previous homilies. Here two points gain prominence. Men

who serve with song must be:


  • MEN WITH A GIFT. “Cunning,” clever, skilled, having this as a natural

endowment. Dwell on the importance of fully recognizing the Divine

distribution of gifts in our times, as truly as in the age of the apostles; and

then the practical importance of looking out the men and women among us

who have a Divine endowment. Each one of us should be anxious to find

his or her own gift, and each one should be quick to observe his brother’s

gift. The thing which lifts a man above commonplace is his gift, and in

honoring it we honor God in him.


  • MEN WITH THE GIFT CULTURED. In this matter our responsibility

comes to view. In our service to God we are bound to see to it that the

men and women of gifts among us have their chance of due instruction and

culture. Worldly men are keen to discover talent, and train it. But this

needs to be more fully done within Christ’s Church, and in respect

especially of the gifts of preaching, music, and song.


Dealing with the song-gift, it may be shown how dependent it is upon

culture; how it responds to instruction and practice, and what a power it

exerts on men, as hymn-power, anthem-power, chorus-power, song-power.

The ancient legend of Eurydice did but declare the wondrous spell that ever

goes with beauteous song:


Perchance at last,

Zeus willing, this dumb lyre and whispered voice

Shall wake, by love inspired, to such clear note

As soars above the stars, and swelling, lifts

Our souls to highest heaven.


8  And they cast lots, ward against ward, as well the small as the

great, the teacher as the scholar.”  This verse should be translated,

And they cast lots of attendance, small and great equally, teacher

with scholar. The Septuagint translates tr,m,vimi twOlr;wOg by the words

klh>rouv ejfhmeriw~n – klaerous ephaemerion – course; charge.



Small and Great, Teacher and Scholar (v.8)


We have here an enumeration of the several courses of the Levites, appointed by lot

to minister in due order. In the words which precede the enumeration, we have

summarized the variety of ages and classes, all of whom were employed and accepted

by the Lord in His service.



Our common humanity is consistent with great variety and intermixture of

elements. It has pleased God not only that generation should succeed

generation, but that members of the human race of all ages should exist

together in human society. It is obviously His will that mankind should be

composed of those who teach and those who learn.





we may expect to find a suitable provision made for the varied wants

of varied classes. Accordingly we find that the Bible is equally adapted

to YOUNG  and OLD; that the redemption of Christ is limited to

NO AGE or CLASS; that the Holy Spirit is poured out from

above without regard to the distinctions upon which men often lay an






small, and the small the great; the scholar is indebted to the teacher, who

in turn derives many benefits from his pupils. There is no member of the

human race who is not both a BENEFACTOR and a BENFICIARY!

 It is well that all should live in voluntary and cheerful compliance





The cause of Christ is one which the feeblest child may help to

advance, and which may employ the abilities of the greatest and

most learned. Our Lord disdains not the lowliest service i.e.; the

widow’s mite (Mark 12:41-44); and the loftiest  are honored in being

permitted to do His will and glorify His Name (“the kings of the

earth do bring their glory and honor into it.” Revelation 21:24).



    List of the Choirs in the Order in Which Their Lots Came (vs. 9-31)


The formula, his sons, and his brethren, which follows twenty-two out of the

twenty-four leaders’ names which now come before us, is absent from ver.

9, where we should have looked for it, viz. after the name Joseph. It has

been supposed that this is a mere omission of carelessness. But this can

scarcely be asserted conclusively. It is observable, for instance, that the

order of the formula in the same verse, on occasion of its very first

occurrence, is not identical with the other twenty-two instances of it, the

word “brethren” preceding “sons,” and the pronoun “he” being expressed.

The preposition (l) is sometimes expressed and sometimes not expressed

before both the proper names and the ordinal numerals of the list.

Examination of the contents of these verses shows, either that it was due to

the Divine direction of the lot (Proverbs 16:33) that an issue resulted

which looks so unlike mere chance, and the system of which is so

methodical and traceable; or that the lot-taking was not one of families and

sons, all thrown together from the first. This supposition would, of course,

leave room for some such ingenious hypothesis as that of Berthean, too

artificial by far to be defensible except as a theory that would indeed work

out the result. He suggests that the modus operandi was by two urns, one

for the first seven odd numbers, into which were put the names of Asaph’s

four sons and of the second, third, and fourth of Heman; the other for the

first seven even numbers, into which were put the six sons of Jeduthun and

the first of Heman. Turning from such a concocted theory to these verses,

we find that the first cast brings to the surface the second son of Asaph,

and the second cast brings up the eldest son of Jeduthun. At the end of the

seventh all of Asaph’s sons are exhausted, and what would have been his

next place (the ninth) is occupied by the second son of Heman, whose

eldest had just taken the sixth place so thrown out by the lot. At the end of

the fourteenth throw Jeduthun’s six sons are all used up, and all the

remaining places belong to Heman’s sons, but still in the order in which

they are thrown out by the lot.


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”- (see ch.15:18, 21) - No other of these

      twenty-four names is found elsewhere out of this chapter in the history, a

      just indication of the trustworthiness rather than the contrary  - “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


31 The four and twentieth to Romamtiezer, he, his sons, and his brethren, were




                        The Service of the House of God (vs.1-31)


In this chapter, which gives the musical arrangements made for the “service of the

house of the Lord,” we have suggestions which take our thoughts over the wider

ground of public worship. We have:



felt to be essentially incomplete without:


Ø      Praise. All who love the house of God delight “to give thanks and to

praise the Lord” (v. 3). We have such a God for our God that we can

give thanks, and praise” Him whenever we remember Him. The

devotees of heathen deities cannot do so; they can only prostrate

themselves abjectly before their gods, or deprecate their capricious

wrath: there is nothing in the beings they worship worthy of

their honor. In the only wise God, in the holy and pitiful Father

of our spirits, in the righteous Lord of all, in the merciful

Redeemer of mankind, in the patient, striving, cleansing

 Spirit of God, in THIS GOD, WHO IS OUR GOD, we have

ONE whom we can praise continually, and with all the

energies and faculties of our nature, and then feel that

we have failed to render unto HIM “THE GLORY DUE



Ø      Instruction. There were to be workmen “who should prophesy”

(v. 1), and they “prophesied with a harp;” i.e. their function was

to utter sacred, instructive, inspiring words in their capacity as

choristers. The music of the sanctuary was to be subordinated to

the utterance of Divine truth, the sound to the sense, the ear

to the soul. One musical leader was even spoken of as “the king’s

seer in the words of God” (v. 5). Here we have an argument

a fortiori. If in the act of praising, when the first end in view

is the offering thus presented to God Himself, we are to use

words which will be instructive and elevating to the worshippers,

how much more are we to provide that other parts of Divine

 Service shall be full of sacred instruction, shall tend to edify,

 to enlighten, to sustain!




Ø      Order. The whole chapter is an argument for this; the division into

choirs, with their respective leaders, and the arrangement as to their

turn of service, speak of careful orderliness. The beauty of holiness in

which we should worship requires that there be no confusion,

embarrassment, disorder (I Corinthians 14:33, 40).


Ø      Excellency. They were duly “instructed in the songs of the Lord”

(v.7). No doubt they were taught to take their parts well “under the

 hands of their father,” or of some competent teacher. In everything

we do in God’s house we should aim at excellency. Whether it be in

offering  prayer, or in reading, or in preaching, or in singing,


place where men and women should be so desirous of putting

forth their utmost talents as in THE HOUSE OF HIM  from whom

ALL FACULTY and  ALL OPPORTUNITY  have been received.


Ø      Variety. The instruments of music used were various — “cymbals,

psalteries, and harps.” Doubtless others would have been used if

they had been known and found fitting. We may do better to use

one instrument of music only, but we do not well to make God’s

service monotonous. We should make it as attractive with variety

of engagements, freshness of thought and newness of method as

is consistent with REVERANCE and PROPRIETY!


Ø      Amity. They cast lots… as well the small as the great, the

teacher as the scholar.” The arrangement was ‘made so that

there should be no partiality in the appointment made, and,

if possible, no dissatisfaction with the place taken. We should

shun giving offence, and also taking it. Happy the Church where

there is CONCORD from the choir and no DISCORD within it.



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