Short history of music in the temple

The scripture for today, June 26 (6/26), is 1st Chronicles 6:26ff as found in the Old Testament of the Bible.   

“Elkanah his son, Zophai his son, Nahath his son, Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son and SAMUEL his son. The sons of Samuel: JOEL the firstborn and Abijah the second son.”

This is a little long, but I think you will enjoy it.

The prophet Samuel came from a musical family who descended from Levi’s son Kohath. Samuel’s son, listed in this scripture, was Joel. Verse 33 called the son of Joel and grandson of Samuel “Heman, the musician.”  Just what did Heman the musician do?

David told the Levites to appoint “singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps, and cymbals.”  Heman was the first one they appointed (I Chronicles 15:16f), and he had two assistants, ~ Asaph and Merari (I Chronicles. 6:39, 44). David put them in charge of the music in the house of the Lord, and they performed their duties according to the regulations (verses 31f).  

So what David appointed was a choir and orchestra.  When David first appointed them, Heman had 120 relatives in his clan, and his assistants had 220 and 130 in their clans (I Chronicles. 15:5-7; 19-22; 27-28), so they had a total of 470 musicians. Wow! And these musicians had a full-time job!

They were to minister before the Lord “according to each day’s requirements” of sacrifices as written in the Law of Moses. Heman and the others were responsible for sounding the trumpets and cymbals and playing the other instruments ~ lyres, harps, and cymbals (15:19-21) ~ for sacred song (16:37-42). In addition to playing the prescribed lyres, harps, and cymbals, trumpets were to be sounded to announce sacrifices, etc. (16:4-6).

By the time David was old, there were “four thousand…to praise the Lord with the musical instruments” (I Chronicles 23:5)! What an amazing choir and orchestra they had by this time! Remember, they were all male Levites, and were to help Aaron’s descendants, the priests, in the temple every day and at special feasts (verse 28, 30f). And what instruments were they still playing? Cymbals, lyres, and harps “for the ministry at the house of God” (I Chronicles. 25:1 & 6).

Years later after David died and his son Solomon had completed the grand Temple in Jerusalem (II Chronicles. 5:1), “all the Levites who were musicians…stood on the east side of the altar dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres, accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and singers joined in unison as with one voice to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and the other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the Lord” (verses 12-13).

Can you imagine such an orchestra and choir? The tinkling of the harps and lyres, with cymbals keeping the tempo, and trumpets calling attention to it all? And all those singers! Was God pleased? Indeed he was, for in the form of a cloud, “the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God” (verse 14).

All this occurred around 1000 BC. Three centuries later, when Hezekiah was king, the same instruments were being played ~ cymbals, harps, and lyres (II Chronicles. 29:25f). Why? Because they were prescribed by David, Gad the seer and Nathan the prophet as commanded by God through his prophets. (Acts 2:29-30 says David was a prophet too.)

So we see that during Old Testament times, God commanded that they have full-time musicians to sing and play during daily sacrifices and special feasts, and they had to be male Levites, and they had to play cymbals, harps, and lyres, sometimes accompanied by trumpets.

What a family Samuel had! And I’ll bet he was musical himself. How proud he would have been of his descendants.

Interestingly, although God specified every detail of the instruments that had to be played in the Old Testament, nothing like that was specified in the New Testament. Did God forget? Perhaps God took us to a higher plain in the New Testament era. We do know that in I Corinthians 14:15, we are told to both pray and sing with mind and spirit.

And in Ephesians 5:19, we are told to “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” The term “make music” in the original Greek language of the New Testament is to play on strings. Since we are to make music in our hearts, then it looks like we are to play on the instrument of our heart. How beautiful!

About 50 years ago, when my father died, the funeral was in a little country church. The music consisted of a small group from the congregation who sang hymns without the accompaniment of an instrument. They were not good performers ~ they twanged a lot and sometimes were a bit off-key. But it was some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard. Why? Because their singing was accompanied by their heart. They were telling my family, “We love you,” and I really felt that they did.

God looks down at our singing ~ no matter how good or feeble ~ and says, “I can tell you love me.” And that’s all that matters.

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A physical thing for a spiritual outcome

00-1st Century Worship KINDLE-COVER-ThumbnailThe scripture for today, June 8 (6/8), is Romans 6:8 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”

We all want to live with Christ, but how do we die with him? Earlier in this same chapter, God inspired the writer to say this: “We died to sin….don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead…we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:2-4).

So, just as Christ did a physical action to die for us, we do a physical action to die with him. And just as Christ’s physical death overcame spiritual death, so our physical action overcomes our spiritual death. Then we are born again, or as this verse says, we “live a new life.”

Some say this is water salvation. But it is no more water salvation than the cross was wood salvation. We live in a physical world, and God has us sometimes do physical things in order to obtain a spiritual outcome. Our singing praise songs is a physical thing, but it is no less spiritual in its outcome. Our eating the Lord’s Supper is a physical thing, but it is no less spiritual in its outcome.

Have you died with Christ?

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Painting rainbows

0-HS-592 VersesExamined-COVER-ThumbnailMy heart rushes to your heart, Oh God. I cannot bear the thought of being without you. I sigh at the thought of you. Sometimes I weep tears of loneliness. I have many friends and brothers and sisters in the family of God. But they are not the same. How I long to live in your heavenly realm and bask in your glory, the glory of my Maker. Though your light dawns on me every morning, I yearn for the true light of your presence. I worship you once again for, when you are near, it is always dawn.

Ah, my Lord. Every day that I read your Word, I think of your promises, your assurances to always love me. They are ever with me. They make me confident through the day that you will protect and guide my every step. It would be so wonderful to walk with you as Adam and Eve did in the garden. I cling to your words that it will indeed happen someday. There you will give me a crown though I do not know why.  Are there a million other worlds out there for each of us to rule under you?  You declared idleness a sin. Or will you assign artists to paint rainbows and jewelers to form emeralds and musicians to composed great and wondrous songs to your glory?  Whatever it is, I will always praise you. The gratitude in my heart bursts like a sunrise.

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Hmmm. I seem to be missing my tantrum.

0-Mefiboset-KINDLE ThumbnailThe scripture for today, June 1 (6/1) , is Psalm 6:1 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

“O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.”

This is not only a good request to God, but it is a good request to each other ~ family and friends alike. When you disagree with someone, do you “back it up” with loud yelling or throwing or hitting things? Do you believe that your point cannot be understood and will not be accepted without a “tantrum”?

This scripture indicates that it is indeed possible to rebuke someone without the tantrum. In fact, it is more effective. When you calmly tell someone you disagree with them, it does not raise their blood pressure and put them on the defensive. With tantrums, they may react as you want on the outside, but you drive them farther from you on the inside.

Calm rebuke does not mean you don’t mean it; it means you are convinced enough, your point of view does not need reinforcement. In that case, the other person is likely to be convinced too.

Today, practice saying calmly what you normally back up with a tantrum. Practice in front of the mirror.  Practice when driving. Practice when cooking or mowing the lawn or combing your hair.  Then, next time you disagree with someone close to you, you will be ready. Ready to not rebuke in your anger.

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The coward slinked away

05-Joseph-KindleThumbnailAh, my Lord, You are the only God and you are glorious. You are powerful in love, in justice, in mercy. You are life and must ever be creating life. Woe to those who kill, for they are fighting you.  Those who lie dare to deny you. Those who boost their will over yours are siding with Satan who desires to be over you.  Ah, my Lord God, I adore you and fall at your feet.  You are beyond understanding and fill my heart with the unspeakable joy of seeing you face to face some day.

Help me see myself as others do and as you do. Open my eyes to the real me. Make me go through things that reveal to me the stuff I am truly made of.

Thank you, Lord, for providing Words in writing so I know what and who my God is and how you react to people like me. You love me so and never stop thinking about me. Lord Jesus, thank you for being willing to go backward ~ leaving heaven to dwell on earth as one of us, resisting all the temptations of Satan. You went backward so I could go forward ~ leaving earth to dwell in heaven. You risked it all for me. What if Satan had succeeded? But you stood strong, head-to-head against him, refusing to obey him, side with him, or even to give you what he dared think you wanted ~ his kingdoms. They were not his to give. They were already yours. The coward slinked away in your mighty presence.

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