One of the more obscure members of the Sons of Korah is a fellow named Shallum the Korahite. Nonetheless, this fellow is important enough that no only he but one of his sons is listed prominently in 1 Chronicles as servants of God. Let us therefore examine his faithful example of service to God and that of his son.
The Service of Shallum
Like Heman’s service , Shallum’s service was of such a nature as to receive the notice of both God and his fellow Levites. In 1 Chronicles 9:17-19 we read about Shallum: “And the gatekeepers were Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman, and their brethren. Shallum was the chief. Until then they had been gatekeepers for the camps of the children of Levi at the King’s Gate on the east. Shallum the son of Kore, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, and his brethren, from his father’s house, the Koraites, were in charge of the work of the service, gatekeepers of the tabernacle. Their fathers had been keepers of the entrance to the camp of the Lord.”
Shallum is apparently known by another name in 1 Chronicles 26:1, which refers to him as Meshelemiah the son of Kore, the son of Asaph. Here again he is referred to as the chief of the gatekeepers, and so it is likely that Meshelemiah was the same person referred to as Shallum elsewhere, including earlier in 1 Chronicles as well as in Ezra and Nehemiah. As is a common problem, especially among the more obscure people of biblical times, the identity of Shallum the Korahite has been clouded by the fact that the Hebrew scriptures refer to his name in more than one way, making it difficult for people to recognize his importance for what it is truly worth.
Despite the fact that Shallum is an obscure personage who does not speak directly in scripture, he is noted here in 1 Chronicles as the chief of the gatekeepers and having come from a family of faithful servants of God who served generation after generation as gatekeepers. The sons of Korah were in charge of ensuring that only the right people came in and out of the tabernacle, responsible for opening and closing it, a responsibility that allowed them to work closely with the priests (though they were not priests themselves). The sons of Korah therefore stood as a visible reminder to every believer who entered the tabernacle to worship or sacrifice of the mercy of God and of his grace to those who obey Him and refrain from rebellion. Among these gatekeepers Shallum was recognized as chief by his peers.
Shallum’s Family Example
However, not only Shallum was a servant of God but so was his son recognized as a faithful servant of God in a different fashion. 1 Chronicles 9:31-32 speaks about Shallum’s son and his responsibilities: “Mattihiah of the Levites, the first born of Shallum the Korahite, had the trusted office over the things that were baked in the pans. And some of their brethren of the sons of of the Kohathites were in charge of preparing the showbread for every Sabbath.” Here we see that while the father served in guarding the gate the son served in charge of what was cooked and prepared for the showbread for the priests. Both father and son therefore had a reputation for faithful service among their brethren of the Levites and a role that was recognized by those who served and attended around the temple and tabernacle.
This example of faithful service passed on from generation to generation is something that marks the Sons of Korah whenever they appear in scripture, an aspect that has not often been examined in detail. Just as the example of Elkanah’s godly service was passed down to his son Samuel and his grandson Heman, so we see the example of Shallum and his son Mattihiah in their faithful service. Despite being somewhat obscure people to us, in a part of the Bible that is not often read and even less often examined in great detail, their example has been recorded for all time for their faithful service to God to serve as an example to ourselves to pass down our example of service down through the generations.
Interestingly enough, this family example of Shallum the Korahite was remembered and recognized many centuries after his original service. We find in Ezra 2:40-42 a record of the Levites who returned from the captivity with Zerubbabel: “The Levites: the sons of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodaviah, seevnty four. The singers: The sons of Asaph, one hundred and twenty-eight. The sons of the gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, and the sons of Shobai, one hundred and thirty-nine in all.” The faithful service of Shallum as a gatekeeper was recognized even in the time of Ezra, more than six hundred years after the time of David. 1 Chronicles 9:16 notes that Berechiah the son of Asa, the son of Elkanah, among these sons of Korah, lived in the village of the Netophathites, a small village near Tekoa and some three miles southeast of Bethlehem in Judah.
Despite the fact that little is said in the scriptures about Shallum the Korahite and his family, what is said demonstrates that Shallum’s service was faithful and conspicuous and was a lesson passed down to his children after him. The faithful service of the Sons of Korah over the generations was a living testimony to Israel if they chose to examine it and reflect upon it, and it remains for us as well to reflect upon. Hopefully we may all serve as faithfully and set an example for our families to the extent of the noble Shallum.