Bible Readings for November 29th
David assigns a group of the non-priestly Levites who were not called to the ministry of music to serve instead as gatekeepers in 1 Chronicles 26 (cf. 1 Chron. 9:17–32). While some of these gatekeepers were Merarites (1 Chron. 26:19), the primary group are called the Korahites (1 Chron. 26:1)—that is, the sons of Korah, who was the Kohathite who led the rebellion against Moses in Numbers 16. Though their ancestor Korah had sinned grievously against Yahweh, they are nevertheless called near to a particular place of privilege to serve as gatekeepers of the house of God. The influence of the Korahites, however, extends far beyond the gatekeeping duties that they executed thousands of years ago. They left behind Psalms 42, 44–49, 84, 85, 87, and 88—psalms that the church treasures to this day.
Knowing that the sons of Korah were devoted to standing guard at the temple helps us to understand better why one of these gatekeepers would write Psalm 84, where we read, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God….For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Ps. 84:1–2, 10). They are the doorkeepers for the house of their God, and they rejoice in the privilege of dwelling in the shadow of the house of God.
But even the fact that the Korahites were gatekeepers seems to influence their choice of themes in the psalms they write, so that they frequently describe Yahweh as their refuge, stronghold, and protection. For example, take Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble….the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Ps. 46:1, 7, 11). Or, Psalm 48: “Within her [Mount Zion’s] citadels God has made himself known as a fortress” (Ps. 48:3). Just as the gates where the Korahites served protected the temple, so also Yahweh himself acts as a refuge and a fortress for his people.
It is a tender thing, then, for Jesus to describe himself as the true shepherd of the sheep to whom the gatekeeper opens (John 10:3), as well as the very door through whom we may enter into God’s presence and find salvation (John 10:7–18). It is the presence of Jesus that is better than a thousand days elsewhere, and it is Jesus himself who serves as our refuge and strength, and who stands as our fortress. For all those who are weary and oppressed, let us flee to Jesus, a very present help to us in times of trouble, both now and forevermore.
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.