May 1 Reading: I Chronicles 6 Commentary
“…David appointed over the service of song in the house of the Lord, after the ark came to rest. They were ministering with music before the dwelling place of the tabernacle of meeting…” (I Chron. 6: 31)
I Chronicles 6 – The Family of Levi
I Chronicles 6 gives special attention to the family of Levi. If you remember, Moses’ brother Aaron was from the tribe of Levi. God appointed him to become the first spiritual leader of the nation of Israel (Ex. 28:1).
God gave the tribe of Levi the special task of serving as priests for the nation of Israel during their journey to the Promised Land. They were responsible for the upkeep of the tabernacle and all the worship activities that took place there (Num. 18). This included all the sacrifices the people were required to make to atone for their sin and to honor/worship the Lord with.
The sons of Levi (Jacob’s son) were Gershon, Kohath and Merari. Of these three, it was through the line of Kohath that the priestly office was connected. Kohath’s children were Aaron, Moses and Miriam. Aaron was the first high priest, followed by his son Eleazar. Two of his other sons who were priests, Nadab and Abihu, offered strange fire before the Lord and were killed in the tabernacle 9 (Lev. 10).
Other priests of note in the genealogy include Abiathar, Zadok, Azariah and Jehozadak. Abiathar was the priest who sided with Adonijah in the rebellion against Solomon (I Kings 2). When he was exiled, Solomon replaced him with Zadok. Azariah was high priest ministered “as priest in the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem” (v. 10). And Jehozadak was the last priest before the exile. He was carried off to Babylon with the rest of the captives from Judah (v. 15). He was the father of Joshua, the priest who returned with Zerubabbel after the Babylonian captivity to rebuild the temple and establish the Jewish community again (Haggai 1:1, 12-14).
Musicians in the Lord’s House
David “appointed over the service of song in the house of the Lord, after the ark came to rest. They were ministering with music before the dwelling place of the tabernacle of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they served in their office according to their order” (vv. 31-32). So David clearly considered music an integral part of the worship experience in the temple.
Even these musicians in the temple were from the tribe of Levi. One name that stands out from this list is Asaph (v. 39). He was a gifted musician and poet. So much so that some of his psalms are recorded in the Book of Psalms (Psalm 50, Psalms 73-83). His responsibilities within the temple are listed in I Chronicles 16.
Dwelling Places for the Levites
Finally, God granted special dwelling places throughout the settlements in the land for the Levites. The rest of the chapter lists the allocation of these cities throughout the land. Each tribe was granted a certain number of cities for the Levites to dwell in.
They were not only granted cities to live in but the “common-lands” around the city. This allowed them to plant crops and have livestock outside the city limits, about 1,500 feet in every direction according to Num. 34-35.
Additionally, some of these cities became cities of refuge (v. 57, 67). Numbers 35 outlines how these special cities served as escape zones to which a person could flee if they had committed an unintentional killing. They could find sanctuary there and be safe until the case came to trial. There were six cities of refuge out of the 48 cities designated for the Levites.
Questions and Thoughts to Consider from I Chronicles 6:
Do you think that those who minister for the Lord today should receive special treatment from the people (i.e. the church) that they minster to? How can we show our appreciation to those who lead us spiritually?
It is ironic and ultimately sad that in churches everywhere, there are believers who refuse to use their breath to sing, praise and worship the same God who gave them breath in the first place.
Music has always helped us connect with, praise and worship God. David was a musician himself and appointed men to lead worship in the house of the Lord. What role does music play in your relationship with God? Do you find it difficult to praise him through music?
What other points would you want to know about in our I Chronicles 6 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.