I Chronicles 25
by Pastor Mark Hudson
While this may not be the most riveting reading in the Bible, it does raise a number of questions. The larger context is David’s preparation for Solomon building the temple. Part of David’s preparation included money, supplies, peace due to his military success, bureaucracy, and the extensive worship planning. David left more than gold or silver for Solomon.
Richard Pratt provides a number of themes before he begins commenting on the verses of I Chronicles. His observations on music in this book is fascinating (see pp. 26-27).
1. The Chronicler makes is clear which families of priests and Levites were to play instruments and sing (I Chr. 6:33; 15:16,19, 22, 27; 16:4,7, 42; 25:1-31).
2. The divine will was discerned in these matters by casting lots (25:8).
3. He gives attention to such practical matters as the skills and training of Levitical musicians (15:22; 25:7) as well as their rotation of responsibilities (25:9-31)
4. The Chronicler also noted the wide range of instruments to be used in worship (13:8; 15:16).
5. He described some details of how and when music was performed in worship (2 Chr. 5:11-14; 7:6; 23:18; 29:27, 28; 30:21).
6. Finally, the Chronicler noted that Levites and priests performed music to lead Israel into battle. (II Chr. 13:12,14; 20:21-22 and to celebrate victory (II Chr. 20:28).
Obviously, music was important to the post-exilic community. Remember the events of David’s life are close to 1000 B.C. Yet the book of Chronicles was written sometime between the dates of 539 and 330 B.C. They were rebuilding the temple and restoring worship to its rightful place. This book was not just a history book but encouragement for them. This book is a testimony of God’s grace in the past that gave the Chronicle’s readers strong encouragement that God could do the same for them.
A chapter like 25 told them who was to be responsible for worship. When and how would music be used in Israel was important for this original community and also for the community during the time of rebuilding the temple. Also throughout this book, notice the joy and wonder associated with music. I Chr. 15:16 calls singing, “to raise sounds of joy.” Or as 2 Chr. 30:21 puts it, the people had “great gladness, and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, singing with all their might to the Lord.”
When you read the account of the post-exilic period there is not a lot of music and joy. So what the Chronicler is suggesting is when Israel served God with obedience, music was a big part of their experience. Joy and wonder is the normal experience for believers.
This chapter also reminds us that to serve God you do not have to have one specific gift like speaking, teaching, writing, etc. God uses gatekeepers, musicians, singers, etc. Yet music is important for a variety of reasons. God must love music since both earth and heaven are filled with music.
In 25:1-3 the verb used to describe to work of the Levites is ‘prophesied.’ Does this mean these Levites were inspired or they sang words of Scripture that were previously inspired or the word ‘prophesied’ has a broader semantic range? 2 Chr. 20:14 “and the Spirit of the Lord came upon . . . a Levite.”
It is hard to know exactly what prophesy means in this context. Is it telling forth the word of God? Whatever the sense is here, we certainly recognize how important music, the singers and musicians are to God. Music has a unique effect on us and especially when music is used in the service of God.
One of the applications for all who take part in a worship service is to be focused on helping others worship. Worship in a church or leading worship in prayer, etc. is primarily so others can worship. Those of us in front are helping others to draw near to God.
I can only imagine how careful these Levites were about their role in worship. Reading these last few chapters in I Chronicles, David takes such detailed care of the plans for worship. In 1 Chr. 28:11ff, David gives Solomon the plans for the temple complex. In verse 13, David gives Solomon plans, “for the divisions of the priests and of the Levites, and all the work of the service in the house of the Lord.” Solomon is handing all these plans. All the heavy lifting was done by David.
We are fortunate to stroll into worship, even come in late, and the table is set. The bulletin is ready, the sound team is prepared, the nursery is staffed, the musicians and singers are ready so all you have to do is sit down and enjoy.
Well, it is not that simple. Preparation, planning, coordination, arriving early, staying late is all part of what it takes to put a worship service together. And aren’t we thankful for all their work? Thank God for the work Sunday school teachers put into their classes. Thank God for those who count money after the service. Thank God for people who practice their instrument, practice during the week, and come early Sunday morning to practice again.
Finally, if God cares this much about worship, the details, the who does what and the fact that every aspect of worship is carefully planned, what does that tell you about how you plan for worship? For decades, some of us warm our hearts, even pre-heat them, at a Sunday School class where the Bible is taught. However you come, come prepared, ready and give God the respect of a prepared heart and mind. Then apply what you heard afterwards. Reflect and take the entire service to heart.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for I Chronicles. We see David’s concern for the details of worship and it reminds us how central worship should be in our lives. Pour Your Spirit into our hearts and draw us into Your presence wherever we are and wherever we go. Mold us into the image of Christ. We long to be in Your presence in heaven where the best worship is. For now, make us hunger and thirst for You in the company of fellow believers. May we experience all the joy You intend for us. In Christ’s name, amen.