1 Chronicles 16:1-6, 37-43: The Sons of Korah Sing At The Placement Of The Ark Of The Covenant In The Tabernacle, Part Two

Having previously examined the celebration that occurred during the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem, and the role of the Sons of Korah in that celebration [1], let us now examine the sequel to this arrival, the role of the Sons of Korah in the placement of the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle, which occurs in 1 Chronicles 16.

1 Chronicles 16:1-6:  The Offerings And Commemoration

In 1 Chronicles 16:1-6, we see the offering and worship that occurred at the tabernacle once the Ark of the Covenant had been brought by the Levites into Jerusalem:  “So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it.  Then they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God.  And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord.  Then he distributed to everyone of Israel, both man and woman, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins.  And he appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to commemorate, to thank, and to praise the Lord God of Israel:  Asaph the chief, and next to him Zechariah, then Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattihiah, Eliab, Benaiah, and Obed-Edom:  Jeiel with stringed instruments and harps, but Asaph made music with cymbals; Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests regularly blew the trumpets before the ark of the covenant of God.”

Let us examine some of the most notable elements of this celebration.  First, let us note that the entrance of the Ark of the Covenant into the tabernacle was celebrated with burnt offerings and peace offerings.  The Bible discusses the protocol for burnt offerings and peace offerings in Leviticus 1 and Leviticus 3, and they are two of the five main types of offerings under the Levitical priesthood system.  It is noteworthy that both types of offering are a “sweet aroma” to God.  This means that unlike the sin or trespass offerings, whose job in “covering” sin made them impure to God, the peace and burnt offerings were praise offerings of worship to bring into remembrance the salvation of God, and were therefore a sign of faithful obedience and worship.  Burnt offerings symbolized the totality of the commitment of believers to God’s way (similar to the way in which cities like Jericho were offered in holy warfare as burnt offerings to God), and peace offerings symbolized the reconciliation of man and God and the obedience of believers to God and their repentance from the rebellious ways of sinful man.

Next, let us note the behavior of David with regards to the Israelite believers.  Rather than demanding bread and meat from his people (which has long been the exploitative desire of tyrannical leaders), David here gives to all believers (male and female) a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a raisin cake, presumably from his own royal territories.  Thus he serves as a good king (a model of Jesus Christ) feeding his people rather than feeding himself off of them.  Interestingly enough, he gives them bread (necessary for life), meat (symbolic of the deeper truths of God’s ways), and a dessert with raisins (which come, like wine, from the grape), a meal deep in nourishment as well as symbolic importance.  Again, just as he did previously, David is serving as a shepherd king and servant leader rather than a bossy and controlling lord.

Finally, let us note in this passage that the Priests and Levites were called to three tasks–to commemorate, to thank, and to praise the God of Israel.  Their tool for doing these three things was musical worship.  They wrote, sang, and accompanied psalms that served to remind all of Israel about God’s historical blessings and protection, His present care for the needs and desires of His people, and His concern with their future and their ultimate destiny.  For this they offered hymns of commemoration and thanks and praise.  The fact that a large body of psalms comes from the Levites (including a substantial portion from the Sons of Korah themselves), and that many others come from David, songs which remain sung and read by believers in God more than 3000 years after they were written, demonstrates the value and importance of the musical service to God.  The fact that the Sons of Korah were prominent as psalmists and musicians means that they held an honored and respected place within the religious system of Israel.

1 Chronicles 16:7-36:  A Brief Overview

Since the hymn of David in 1 Chronicles 16:7-36 does not directly involve the Sons of Korah themselves, it is beyond the scope of this work to examine it at length or in depth here.  Nonetheless, it is worthwhile to note, for those who wish to read this psalm, that it contains a medley of previously existing pslams that appear elsewhere in the Bible.  1 Chronicles 16:8-22 correlates with Psalm 105:1-15.  Psalm 105 is an anonymous psalm praising the workings of God through the history of Israel (serving as the commemorative portion of David’s psalm).  1 Chronicles 16:23-33 correlates with Psalm 96:1-13.  Psalm 96 is an anonymous song praising God for His coming in judgment a psalm whose ultimate fulfillment lies in the return of Jesus Christ and in the Great White Throne Judgment of all beings who had been in rebellion against God’s rule, both flesh and spirit.  This part of the psalm therefore meets the requirement of David for the Levites to praise God through music and singing.  1 Chronicles 16:34-36 correlates with Psalm 106:1, 47, and 48.  Psalm 106 is a formally anonymous song with which the Sons of Korah are deeply associated [2] which thanks God for His forgiveness of Israel’s sins.  This part of the song therefore meets David’s requirement that the Levites thank God in their musical service.

We can therefore see, without going into too much irrelevant detail, that David himself constructed a psalm out of previously existing elements under the inspiration of God that served to meet His own command to the Levites to commemorate, praise, and thank God for all He has done for Israel.  Therefore he practiced what he preached, doing himself what he commanded others to do as well.  He was therefore no ungodly ruler who said “do as I say but not as I do,” but a godly servant leader who taught not only by his words but also by his faithful and obedient example.  And his deep commitment to helping the priests and Levites (including the Sons of Korah) to be faithful and obedient to God also allowed them to serve as an example of godly worship and faithful obedience to the people of Israel, who were themselves intended to develop within them the obedience to the standard of righteousness and service for priests and Levites so that all Israel could become a holy nation and a royal priesthood (see Exodus 19:5-6) in divine service towards the world at large.  This same mandate for the Church of God (see 1 Peter 2:9-10) means this responsibility of obedience and service also belongs to us as Christians.

1 Chronicles 16:37-43:  The Regular Maintenance of Godly Worship

In 1 Chronicles 16:37-43 we see how after the initial celebration and worship that the Sons of Korah (along with the rest of the Priests and Levites) were called upon to maintain godly worship in Jerusalem:  “So he left Asaph and his brothers there before the ark of the covenant of the Lord to minister before the ark regularly, as every day’s work required; and Obed-Edom with his sixty-eight brethren, including Obed-Edom the son of Jeduthun, and Hosah, to be gatekeepers; and Zadok the priest and his brethren the priests, before the tabernacle of the Lord at the high place that was at Gibeon, to offer burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar of burnt offering regularly morning and evening, and to do according to all that is written in the Law of the Lord which He commanded Israel; and with them Heman and Jeduthun and the rest who were chosen, who were designated by name, to give thanks to the Lord, because His mercy endures forever; and with them Heman and Jeduthun, to sound aloud with trumpets and cymbals and the musical instruments of God.  Now the sons of Jeduthun were gatekeepers.  Then all the people departed, every man to house house; and David returned to bless his house.”

We see from this passage that the service of the Levites (including the Sons of Korah) and priests was not an occasional matter on Holy Days or special events, nor was it even a weekly event on the Sabbath, but was a daily service.  The calling of God is something to be done day in and day out, morning and evening, not merely for a couple of hours on the weekend in the midst of one’s other activities.  Again, the service of the Levites, among whom specifically mentioned is the faithful and melancholy Heman [3].  Heman is indeed among the unrecognized heroes of the Bible, whose faithful service is mentioned several times in 1 Chronicles, but largely ignored by many believers.

Let us also note the closing of this passage.  While the Priests and Levites served daily, the brethren returned to their homes at the end of the celebration.  We may gather from the context that the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the tabernacle in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles, showing that God dwelt with men in a tent and temporarily just as Israel was to dwell in tabernacles to show their understanding that this life is but a temporary sojourn on the earth.  But as the people of Israel went home from their tents to their more permanent dwellings, the priests and Levites were to continue in their daily service to God that was their permanent responsibility.

Conclusion To Part Two

Having examined the second part of the ceremony for the placement of the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem, let us comment briefly on a few matters.  For one, this ceremony probably occurred (given the symbolism) during the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel was commanded to assemble to worship God.  For another, the worship included burnt and peace offerings and also extensive musical service by the priests and Levites, including the Sons of Korah, who are specifically mentioned (through Heman).  The hymns of the section demonstrate the importance of commemorating, praising, and thanking God for his past protection, present blessings, and future judgment.  Finally, the Sons of Korah and their brethren were called to daily service, even after the crowds of believers had gone home to return to their jobs and daily lives.  The daily life of the Sons of Korah was in service to God and in participation in the worship service of music and gatekeeping.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/1-chronicles-15-1-29-the-sons-of-korah-sing-at-the-placement-of-the-ark-of-the-covenant-in-the-tabernacle-part-one/

[2] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/2-chronicles-511-14-the-sons-of-korah-sing-at-the-dedication-of-solomons-temple/

[3] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/personal-profile-heman-the-ezrahite/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Christianity, Church of God, History, Music History, Sons of Korah and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to 1 Chronicles 16:1-6, 37-43: The Sons of Korah Sing At The Placement Of The Ark Of The Covenant In The Tabernacle, Part Two

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