So [David] 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; 1 Chronicles 16:37
Perhaps the greatest celebration in David’s reign as king was when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem. Even though David was prevented from building a temple to house the Ark, he made every preparation for that time. Not only did he procure building materials and furnishings, but he also considered how to best manage the utilize those ordained by God to serve, that is, the priests and Levites. Because David was a musician and songwriter himself, it is no surprise that the role music was to play in Israel’s worship was a priority for the king.
David chose three men: Heman, Asaph, and Ethan to oversee the worship music. They weren’t literal brothers but rather belonged to the same tribe. All three men are mentioned performing multiple duties and we have psalms written by each of them. Pulling together some snippets about these men from 1 Chronicles, it seems Heman served as the primary singer, the lead, the director even. Asaph seems to have been the primary songwriter. Ethan then, may have been the lead musician. Perhaps, the first worship band.
So how did Asaph and the others lead worship? What was their philosophy and can we learn anything from it?
Asaph’s worship was a daily activity (1 Chronicles 16:37). Somehow, I don’t think worship was just a vocation for him. I doubt David would have chosen him if it were. The Message says Asaph and the others were “responsible for the needs of worship around the clock.” That takes devotion both to God and to the congregation they served. They viewed worship as a calling, as a sacred trust, rather than a chore or obligation.
Asaph’s worship centered on God’s character, His words, and His actions (Psalm 50, 73-83). If we do a quick read of Asaph’s, several themes emerge. God’s holiness. Lots of holiness. His power and might. His dealings with men. His judgment of the wicked. But also His restoration of those who have sinned, and His intervention on behalf His people.
Asaph’s worship was inspired (1 Chronicles 25:1-7) These verses mention Asaph and the others prophesying and by Hezekiah’s time, he was called Asaph the seer. (2 Chronicles 29:30). From what we know of the New Testament gift of prophesying, it doesn’t necessarily mean to foretell the future. Even in the Old Testament, the prophets didn’t always make predictions. They did however always deliver God’s message, His unvarnished truth to the hearers. When we clearly understand God’s message to us, our natural response is worship.
Is worship a daily activity, a weekly routine or a special event for you? Is it, or should it be all three?
What role does music play in your personal worship? In the worship at your church?