Bible Readings for December 5th
Bringing the ark into the temple is the final step before consecrating the temple for the worship of Yahweh, and the account we read here in 2 Chronicles 5 is largely the same as what we read in the corresponding account in 1 Kings 8. The major difference, though, is that what we find here includes the roles of the Levitical musicians who ministered through song during this time: “all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kinsmen, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with 120 priests who were trumpeters; and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD” (2 Chron. 5:12–13). In 1 Kings 8:10, we only read of where the priests were when the cloud of Yahweh came, but here we read that this was also during the singing of the Levites who served alongside the priests. What does this section add to the theology of the construction of the temple?
As we discussed in a previous meditation, the inclusion of the rest of the Levites provides a trajectory of greater inclusion of Yahweh’s people in worship.1 And yet, the reign of David isn’t the first place we find worshipers playing instruments and singing praises to Yahweh—a wide variety of people had been doing so before David was ever crowned king. Previously, we had seen women playing instruments, dancing, and singing praise to Yahweh in Exodus 15:20–21 and then again to celebrate Israel’s military victories in Judges 11:34 and 1 Samuel 18:6–7. Additionally, we had seen specific groups of prophets who played instruments and prophesied in 1 Samuel 10:5–6. Furthermore, we should remember that David himself was summoned to play his lyre daily to soothe Saul from being tormented by an evil spirit (1 Sam. 16:23, 18:10). It seems more accurate, then, to speak of the inclusion of these Levites to sing at the bringing of the ark into the new temple not as a brand new innovation to the worship of Israel but as an official reintroduction and reorganization of the musical worship in which Yahweh’s people had participated from the beginning.
But additionally, these passages look forward to the worship that God would command to us in the new covenant. All of us are commanded to sing praises to Yahweh, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:20; Col. 3:16). In Christian worship, music must not be for the sake of performance, as though we were passively listening to a concert, since the new covenant now provides that we all—not just the priests and not just the Levites—may participate fully in worship by singing praises to God through Jesus Christ.
1 See the November 28 meditation for 1 Chronicles 24–25.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.