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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Buried Treasure for Worship Leaders

There are passages of Scripture that are a must for any worship leader to study and know. Unfortunately, some of these great lessons are buried in the lists of strange names and place in the Old Testament. One of these passages in found in the book of 1 Chronicles. Chronicles is the retelling of Israel’s history after the exile. At least one of its functions beside helping the people remember their own history, was to remember how to properly do what God had called them to do. Failure to follow God’s laws had led them into exile. Now, back from exile, they needed to know more than ever how to worship God and follow His commandments.

Here some buried treasure passages with which worship leaders should be familiar:

1 Chronicles 25:
5 (All these were sons of Heman the king’s seer. They were given him through the promises of God to exalt him. God gave Heman fourteen sons and three daughters.) 6 All these men were under the supervision of their father for the music of the temple of the Lord, with cymbals, lyres and harps, for the ministry at the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman were under the supervision of the king. 7 Along with their relatives—all of them trained and skilled in music for the Lord—they numbered 288. 8 Young and old alike, teacher as well as student, cast lots for their duties.

1. Heman was the prophet Samuel’s grandson. Even though Heman’s father did not follow in the footsteps of Samuel, the example of the grandfather must have been worthy of emulation.
2. God gave the children for the purpose of exalting God.
3. Fathers taught their children.
4. The children were trained them to be skillful. Implied that the fathers had become skillful as well.
5. Their focus was on service in the Temple for worship.
6. Young and old served along side of each other.

1 Chronicles 26:
6 Obed-Edom’s son Shemaiah also had sons, who were leaders in their father’s family because they were very capable men. 7 The sons of Shemaiah: Othni, Rephael, Obed and Elzabad; his relatives Elihu and Semakiah were also able men. 8 All these were descendants of Obed-Edom; they and their sons and their relatives were capable men with the strength to do the work—descendants of Obed-Edom, 62 in all.
31 As for the Hebronites, Jeriah was their chief according to the genealogical records of their families. In the fortieth year of David’s reign a search was made in the records, and capable men among the Hebronites were found at Jazer in Gilead. 

1. Leaders were leaders because they were “very capable men,” not just because they were related to Obed-Edom.
2. Leadership demands the skill to lead and the ability to do the job they were called to do.
3. David reigned for 40 years. The search for capable leaders was even more crucial, since it was probably obvious that the king would not live much longer.

1 Chronicles 27:
1 This is the list of the Israelites—heads of families, commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and their officers, who served the king in all that concerned the army divisions that were on duty month by month throughout the year. Each division consisted of 24,000 men.
32 Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, a man of insight and a scribe. Jehiel son of Hakmoni took care of the king’s sons. 33 Ahithophel was the king’s counselor.  Hushai the Arkite was the king’s confidant. 34 Ahithophel was succeeded by Jehoiada son of Benaiah and by Abiathar. Joab was the commander of the royal army.

1. Each responsibility and duty related to Temple worship had been identified and assigned a specific group of individuals to take care that it was done properly.
2. Organization was for the effective functioning of worship, both when the ark was still in the tent in Jerusalem and when the Temple would be completed.
3. David surrounded himself with counselors, but one in particular was known as man of “insight and a scribe.”  This implied education, but probably close knowledge of the law of God as well.
4. David’s many wives bore him many sons, resulting that he could not carry out the responsibilities that a normal father would have done. This becomes tragically evident later in David’s life.
5. Everyone wants the ear of the king, so much so that friends who did not demand anything, but just wanted to be available for sharing were hard to find. David found such a friend and confidant in Hushai the Arkite. No doubt, he was someone with whom David could confide without risk of breaking confidential nature of the conversation.  David depends on Hushai to confuse the counsel of Ahithophel during Absalom’s rebellion.

1 Chronicles 28:
8 “So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever. 9 “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.” 11 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement.

19 “All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the Lord’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.” 20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. 21 The divisions of the priests and Levites are ready for all the work on the temple of God, and every willing person skilled in any craft will help you in all the work. The officials and all the people will obey your every command.”

1. Job one: Know the commandments of God and follow them. These words would have had more impact after the exile, because those returning would have lived to experience the pain of disobedience firsthand.
2. David had received from God the details for the Temple and how it was to be carried out.
3. David charges Solomon not to forget the law and to be “strong and courageous and do the work.” This echos Moses’ words to Joshua to be “strong and courageous.”
4. David had organized what had to be done, and who had to do it. His later life seemed to be focused on doing everything he could to make the dream of a Temple, a place for the worship of God a reality. The downside of this was that once Solomon had completed his father’s dream, he had no real dream of his own, and seemed to lean more on David’s relationship with God than his own.

1 Chronicles 29:
1 Then King David said to the whole assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the Lord God. 

1. Solomon would become the wisest man on earth, yet here he is described as “young and inexperienced.”  It is crucial that we don’t pass over that too quickly. Great ability and intelligence cannot bypass experience. Wise is the young worship leader who is willing to listen and not think that he or she knows it all, or fails to listen to suggestions or criticism.
2. The work we do is done primarily for the honor and glory of God.

All this can be quite overwhelming. Let’s summarize what we have seen:

1.  One of the most outstanding features of these chapters is the lists of leadership related to Temple worship. No one is left out; none seem more important than others. Their responsibilities vary from watching over those things used in worship, to being a guard or watchmen, to the actual leadership in adoration. Some of the guards were noted for being valiant warriors, or excellent counselors, while others were chosen for their musical ability.

2. They carried out their responsibility with excellence and with great skill, which at times included doing more than just what was required.

3. Organization was not just a way to reassign the Levites to new job positions, but providing that all could be done that needed to be done. Failure on anyone particular duties would affect everyone else’s ability to function as they should.

4. Fulfilling their responsibility with excellence was what distinguished them, not specific role they played.  Gatekeepers were not "less important" than some of the other responsibilities.

5. Everyone needs help from wise counselors; no one can know it all. These must be people with the wisdom and knowledge of God’s Word who have the freedom and responsibility to say that we may be making a wrong or poor decision.

6. These men left a heritage of God’s faithfulness for their families because their faithfulness was recorded.

7. Great talent and intelligence can not substitute for experience.

8. All must be done for the honor and glory of God.

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