Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

Ministers of Praise (1 Chronicles 16:4-7)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Well, let's hear God's word now. Remain standing if you are able. From first chronicles sixteen, four through seven, then he up, that is David. Then he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the Ark of Jehovah, to invoke, to thank and to Praise Jehovah, the God of Israel. Asaf was the chief and second to him, where Zechariah, Jel Shemari, Shem Sheemery, moth Jehiel, Matahafia Eliab ben and IAH, Obed Edom and Jet Eel, who were to play Harps and liars. Asaf was to sound the symbols, and Ben and Iyah and Jahaziel, the priests, were to blow trumpets regularly before the Ark of the Covenant of God. Then on that day, David a first appointed that Thanksgiving be Sung to to Jehovah by ASF and his brothers. May God bless his word to us. Please be seated. As we have been going through these chapters and first chronicles, the chronicler has been recording for us this history, a history of God's people, first beginning with a number of genealogies, then moving to the downfall of Saul and then contrasting Saul's great downfall as the king over Israel, with David's ascension as the king over Israel in large part of very happy ascension, a good a good thing, and in that we have been seeing how David points US forward to our own king, King Jesus, who sits on his throne, having ascended to the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, who...

...rules and reigns over his people, who fills the sanctuary with his spirit, yes, even us. And as we have seen this happen in Chapter Sixteen in particular, we're seeing some of the particulars of what that means, what it means to belong to a kingdom that is ruled by God and ruled by his anointed servant. In the first three verses of Chapter Sixteen we considered God's great provision for his people, the blessings that come from the king ascended on high. We considered it in various ways, in their communion with another, with one another, the blessing that they received from the Lord, in the ways in which he provides for them. Now, in Chap and now in Chapter Sixteen, in verses for through seven, we see another aspect of that kingdom, another aspect of what it means to belong to God, to be blessed by him under his anointed King. In particular, we see David appointing some of the Levites. You remember, the Levites are a particular tribe and Israel devoted to helping and serving before the Lord. He appoints some levites as ministers, as servants before the Ark of the Lord, the Ark of Jehovah, or Y'All way, he appoints these levites in particular to do a particular thing, to serve in a particular way God. They're being represented and in the Ark and connected to it by his promises calls. The calls David to appoint these Levites to Minister and serve in three particular ways, to invoke,...

...to thank and to praise. This is their job. Now you can see why it's so great to be a minister. You get to invoke and praise and thank and service to the Lord. The Levites, in having no land of their own, had nothing to complain about out they had a great and wonderful task. But you notice a very not only are they told to do these particular things, invoke, thank and praise, but there to do it in a very particular way. In music, Asath and his brothers, as they're called in verse seven, are appointed to these particular tasks, singing and playing, making music. Even some specific instruments are listed, Harps, liars, symbols and other portions of God's word. We read of even other instruments. Throughout the psalms there are commands to worship God and play to him, to make music with these various instruments. This is how they were being called to serve, this is how they were called to minister, and it's important thing to observe for a number of reasons which will consider this evening, but I'll begin by just noting that music is something that is very important to the Lord. There's a reason that we don't just invoke and thank and praise with speaking, but with singing, playing instruments. It's a part of who we are. It's how we express our selves. That's how God desires us to express ourselves and even to move us in particular ways. From the Scriptures and...

...outside of the Scriptures, we know that in the from the very earliest parts of human society, when humans were first establishing culture, they made music. Now we see that, particularly in the first place among canes, line and his family. They are the ones that do that work and by and large, they are the ones that do the bulk of the cultural work. They're at the beginning. But just because it begins and originates among those people doesn't mean that it doesn't belong to God's people as a part of who they are, as a part of what they do and part of their lives. Throughout the Scriptures we see God's people singing and playing instruments and various contexts, both in and out of worship. One of the first examples we see of this is an exodus fifteen, when we read that Miriam and all the women went out singing with T or dancing with tambourines. I suspect that all the women is not meant every single woman, but even if it's a lot of women, that's a lot of Tambourines, a lot of tambourines that belong to Israel, a part of who they were. In other places we have mentions of flutes and stringed instruments, all kinds of things. Now there are ways in which music in the life of Israel and other parts of the ancient world was different than it is today. Today, music is primarily a performance kind of thing. It's something you go and watch. For most of human history, music is something that you participated in. When I taught music lessons, every now and then I would see someone would come in who had never there, had never heard a Lullaby, had never been sung to by their mother or father. Their first experiences participating in music were there at ten, twelve years old, picking up a cello for the first time. Up till then it...

...was very it's it was very much just watching kind of thing. In the ancient world it was very different. Music was a part of worship, it was a part of work, it was a part of I'm telling stories, a part of all woven in as a part of all of life. We read of various instruments particularly attached to the worst it worship of Israel. The high priest, for example, was to have bells, bells sewn around his garment, his robe. We read that David made instruments, that he used an instrument to soothe saul when he was a troubled and even in heaven. We read that there are twenty four elders. John has this vision of twenty for elders who have harps in one hand and bowls of incense, which are the prayers of saying at the saints in the other why music then? Why not just invoke and thank and praise the Lord? Why does God want to attach that to song and Melody? Well, there are reasons that scripture gives us for these things, reasons that are probably fairly obvious to you, but just to say them. Music is a powerful thing. It has a powerful effect on us. It does things one way. Music is used as simply as a signaling kind of thing. In the psalms we read of horses being signaled or people being signaled to come and do something with trumpets or other things. The trumpets in particular were used in Israel to call people to worship. I'm to announce victory over an enemy. But music also has an emotional power. It moves us, affects us, and God's speaking to this musical aspect of our lives is one of the ways which we are reminded that we are...

...not just thinking creatures, but we are emotional creatures as well, and that when God works in us, he works on all of us. I'm not just one part of us. The power of music, I hope, is something that you've experienced in your own life, whether that's in worship or out of it. Out of worship, I remember being at any use summer music camp and hearing Samuel Barber's knoxville summer one thousand nine hundred and fifteen and being however old a eighth grader is, I think I was crying. It was just so beautiful. Other pieces like that of hit me that way, Greky's third symphony and other things. Earlier this week someone was telling me about queuing up Aaron Copeland's fanfare for a common man as they came driving up into a national park. That tune, by the way, Aaron Copeland's Fan for for a common man is purposefully meant to be very grand. He uses it to speak against the Nazism and they sort of Supermann that was being applauded in certain parts of the world. Aaron Copeland, this American composer, says no, I write a fan for for the common man. He wants to announce what it means to just be human and it moves us, it affects us, and these are just cultural examples, things that move us powerfully. Perhaps you've experienced this in worship as well. I'm chills going up and down your spine, saying and can it be, or some other tune that speaks of God's grace, of his glory, of the things that he has done. Music has a very powerful effect on us and it's an effect which some people have...

...capitalized on and abused and some people have feared. You remember Daniel, for example, in Babylon and and the people of Israel being called by Nebuchadnezzar two at the sound of all the instruments, bow down and serve an idol. Instruments are, of course, used in all kinds of terrible ways. They're used to manipulate people and affect people and very powerful ways. But Abuse, we must remember, does not determine use and unfortunately many in the Christian church have felt that way have had this very negative reaction to instruments in general. This is true not only of really from all circles of the church. Thomas a Quinas, for example, which a many people quote, a speaks of instruments as being only good for pleasure, instruments not doing any good and creative increase, creating good dispositions within the soul. I'm braw a Dabney a southern Presbyterian talks about instruments. Is Merely a dead, lifeless mechanical thing that can do no good. But God speaks differently. God commands these servants of his to lift up their mouths and blow trumpets, to take their fingers and play the strings, to sound the symbols together, all in honor and glory and him. This is one of the first places we see it. There was once more a little bit earlier in first chronicles. This is one of the places we see it here and it's going to be a theme that comes up a few other times, even as David passes on the Kingdom to Solomon and the glory of the Lord descends on the temple, as the people are playing...

...and making and music and singing, these things remind us that, yes, music is very powerful and it has been abused and it has a been used for great evil, but it is a tool which, in the hands of the Lord and his people, can do good, and God intends it to do good here, as he institutes his kingdom, as he brings his king to the throne, as he establishes himself, as the ARC is placed there in Jerusalem, He commands that music, this powerful aspect and thing that has an effect on our emotions would be attached to his worship, and he commands it in these various ways. So you can see why God is pleased with the music of our mouths, of our fingers. It's in this passage and similar passages like this, that Bach stood himself firm against various Lutheran pietists and stood with the Orthodox, finding his calling and service to God. But this passage is more than God's Amen to music and music and worship. As we began with, you remember that David prefigures Jesus, and so this kingdom looks ahead to the kingdom to come. When you think about that, I hope that sparks a little bit of thrill, a little bit of anticipation and excitement to know that one day you will hear the heavenly angels, the choires of Heaven, your own voice resounding with them in praise and glory of God. These harps and perhaps other instruments of being played, worship and music pointing together,...

...we see that God is concerned not only with words being rightly spoken, but our hearts being rightly moved. I'm going back to Psalm Ninety six, which we heard earlier, begins. Oh, sing to the Lord, a new song, sing to him all the earth. And then it gives this reason. Splendor and majesty are before him, strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. These things are connected. Because of God's splendor, because of his beauty. Song, music, has a right place before God. It should affect us in this way. The songs that we've Sung, songs that I've chosen, all of them thus far, have spoken in one way or another of this kind of thing, either a command to sing and make music or a call about making music. And, unsurprising to me, in the three hymns you chose before worship also all spoke to that in some way or another. Oh for a thousand tongues to sing right, or Psalm one, which called about called us to make to sing to the Lord with a cheerful voice, or the hymns that are anticipated with the Kingdom of God. You See, this is a natural and wrapped up part of our lives as Christians. My point is it's not an accident that we sing, it's not an accident that we make music and it's not an accident that we attach to the things that we do tunes and melodies. It's because God is glorious, because he...

...is full of splendor and majesty. And if that's true of David and his temple, how much more true is that with Jesus, in the kingdom that has come in him? Now? There are times in which that Kingdom of God, this Kingdom which Christ has now rules and reigns over, is hidden. Many of the outward manifestations of his glory and his beauty that we see there externally in the Old Testament are in many ways hidden today. But that doesn't mean we ought to bury them. It doesn't mean that we ought to just become thinking people and not emotional people either. And as music is very much attached to this, we are right to lift our hearts not just in poetry but in song. There are some things that pass away with the new covenant, the sacrifices in particular, and many, many other things, but there are other things that belong to the old covenant that also belong to the new, and music is most certainly a part of that. Even in this passage here, think of the number of things we have mentioned in verses four through seven. We have the ARC, we have the Levites, we have people, we have we have the worship of the Lord. Some of these things are indeed, for us, fulfilled in Christ and we no longer return to but there are other things and which continue to continue on is both a necessary and important part of worship. Are Singing is like that. It while we should still sing with reverence and awe, we should still play in a...

...skillful way. We no longer play in connection with the sacrifices, and just as the buildings we worship in are no longer connected to the Ark. Buildings are not prohibited and are a good and necessary part of worship. We still sing. Two songs are a way in which we lift our hearts up to the Lord, in which our hearts are tuned to Sing His grace. And so when we think about our worship, we don't do it as a performance, we don't do it is just a emotional exercise. We do it in particular response, in direct response to the glory and splendor and majesty of Jesus and what he has done for us. We may not always have a building to worship him, we may not always have instruments to play or voices that work, but when we do it is right and good to use them and to use them for the Lord. And when we consider our emotions, when we consider our hearts, let us not fear that either, but, by God's grace, ask that he would move our feelings, move our emotions towards holiness, to reverence, to joy and awe, wonder, dependence comfort. We ought not to fear our emotions and the expressions of them that we make through music, but use them in service to God, with thankfulness for the kingdom that we have received and anticipation of the kingdom that is to be revealed. May God help us to understand him as he ought, as we ought, and help us to worship him as he as pleases him. Let us pray.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (648)