Ministering to God
“And the priests brought in the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord unto his place, to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims:…(…And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place:…the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psaltries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:) It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God.” 2 Chronicles 5:7, 11-14
One of the most glorious days in all of Scripture was the day when the ark was brought into the temple building. After the ark was brought into the temple, the priests who carried the ark came back out and there were other Levites who began singing, playing music and praising God. It was then that the glory of the Lord filled the house so that the priests could not stand to minister.
The Levites that were mentioned in connection with the music were Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun. God’s glory was intensely displayed at this event. These three gentlemen provide a major clue as to how we can glorify God with our lives. We will examine the meaning of each of their names and see what each tells us about how we can glorify God.
First let’s think about Asaph whose name means “the Lord has gathered for Himself.”1 As laborers together with God, we can help Him in His work of gathering. What type of gathering or collecting would glorify God? Consider where the singers were. They were in the house of God. It seems then that we should collect others and gather them into the house of God. As we have stated before, a person can not enter into the presence of God in His house without being a child of God. It is the work of the gatherer to search out those whom they can win to Christ and bring them into the house of God. More specifically, the text tells us that the musicians and singers were at the East end of the altar. It is significant that the singers were in this location because when we gather others, we should bring them to a place where they can see the sacrifice of Christ, for they cannot approach close unto God without first trusting in His sacrifice. God is glorified when we go out and gather the lost. God is glorified when we bring the lost to a place where they can see what Christ has done for them. God is glorified when we usher the lost into the temple to become a part of it. Search for someone you can gather and bring into the safety of the house of God today. The following words, which were spoken by Jesus, make it clear that if we are not a gatherer, we are scattering abroad.
“…and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” Matthew 12:30
A second type of gathering comes to mind, which is the gathering of God’s people. When God’s people come together in worship, there is a special presence of God in that place.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
People who collect others together are unifying in what they do. They bring people together. They bring people to God, to reconciliation with Him. They never divide or drive away. As God’s people gather in unity of worship, it is a beautiful glorifying time for God.
Let us consider the second name, which was Heman, meaning “faithful.”2 Faithful means that you can be trusted. Our Lord is perfectly faithful; we trust Him with our lives when we trust Him as our Savior. His Word is completely trustworthy. Can God count on you to do what you say that you will do? Are you obedient to the commands of God, or do you try to see what you can get away with? Does God know that whatever you do it will be in His best interest? Can you be counted on to be in church when you should be? Do you give what God would have you give to Him, or do you keep back some for yourself? A man who lives a faithful life does not live his life for himself. He lives for the Lord to whom he owes his life, all that he has, and all that he is. The faithful man lives a life of integrity. When God’s people are faithful to Him, it is glorifying to God.
The final man mentioned in the text is Jeduthun whose name means “laudatory”3, in other words expressing praise. A man who worships is not focused on himself. He directs his thoughts, words, and actions toward who God is and what God has done for him. God is so good to us. A man who realizes that God is good and who understands something of who God is will live a holy life. As we praise God with a pure heart, He is glorified.
Now let’s think about the three men again-“the Lord has gathered for Himself,” “faithful,” and “praising.” Just as we would be missing something if the Scriptures did not mention one of these men, our worship is missing something if some of God’s people are missing. As we gather faithfully and praise our God, He is glorified. Do you realize that you do not merely come to church to be fed with the Word of God as you listen to the message? You do not merely come to church to fellowship with other believers. You do not come to church merely to minister to others. If this is what you think, then you are missing something very important. As we come to church and gather with the faithful, we come to worship and praise our God. God is a Person who loves it when His children gather around Him and express their love for Him. My friend, when we gather together to worship with other believers, we are gathering together to minister to our God! God is glorified in this.
Notice some elements of the music on this occasion where God was so glorified. There were a lot of different types of instruments, and they did include percussion. The music was dynamic. It was not monotone. We are told they “lifted up their voice.”
Very importantly, we are told that there were many voices singing, but they were as one, making one sound. This type of unified singing can occur whenever there is a group of believers singing or making music to God from the heart. When I sang in the choir at our church. Much of the time a unified choir did not happen, but when it did it was wonderful. When we were singing in perfect unity and we came together as one voice in complete harmony, worshiping our Lord, nothing could compare. There is something about music that is so much more expressive than words ever could be. Somehow it sets the soul free to communicate what is in it; to commune with God in a special way. There is a special presence of God that is manifested when God’s people worship Him in song with unity of spirit and voice. Expressing emotional love for God in our worship is a beautiful thing and glorifying to God.
Have you ever noticed that many hymns are actually a prayer that is put to music? If you look through the book of Psalms, you will notice that there are a great number of them that are prayers. When we sing, we do not sing for our amusement, or for others to hear us. We sing to God. If you sing a song that is a prayer, consider the words as you sing. Sing unto God as in prayer.
The song that we sing unto God should be a new song.
“O sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvelous things:…” Psalm 98:1a
When the verse says “new song,” that does not necessarily mean something that has never been sung before, but rather, something that is different from the old song of the world that we used to sing before we came to the Lord.
Find a new song for your heart. The best kind of music will lead your thoughts in gratefully worshiping God and will motivate you to be devoted to serving God. Think about the words of the song. Are they words that would please the Lord? Do the words have their roots in the Scriptures or are they mere expressions of the thoughts and feelings of men? Are they focused only on how the song writer feels or on how great our God is?
I would like you to consider the words of the song that were sung at the dedication of the temple. We are given the text of the song: “For he is good; for his mercy endureth forever.” It was when these words were sung that the house was filled with a cloud, and the glory of the presence of the Lord was so incredibly intense.
If we would desire to glorify God with our lives, we need to understand the importance of these words: “For he is good; for his mercy endureth forever.” If we live our lives in unity with other believers, harmonizing our lives with these words, God will be intensely glorified. We see these words repeated over and over again after some fashion in the book of Psalms. They are significant.
We have, on the one hand an expression of God’s holiness. “For He is good.” His character is pure and sinless. On the other hand, within this phrase we have an expression of the loving kindness of our Lord for us. His mercy endures forever. He is merciful to sinners because He is faithful to His covenant. His character is balanced by these two traits; holiness balanced by loving mercy. These two phrases seem to be a summary of what is most important to know about God.
Although we deserve nothing but God’s holy judgment on us for our sins, God is merciful because He is faithful to His Word. He knows that we are not good, we never could be good, so in His mercy He provides the goodness of His Son for us. He is faithful to the promises of salvation that are in His Word. God is so good to us, that He was willing to die in order to have mercy on us so that we would not suffer the eternal judgment of God. Notice that His mercy “endureth forever.” When God gives us His Son’s goodness, it is forever. If we have repented from sin and trusted Him for our salvation, we need never again fear His wrath. The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus appeased the wrath of God for us forever.
How then should these words affect how I live? First of all if you have not accepted the mercy of God, then the words “for He is good” should draw you to repentance.
“…the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” Romans 2:4b
Since God is good, His holiness demands that He be a just God. Since He is just, He will bring judgement upon those who have sinned. Turn from sin while there is time. Seek God’s mercy on you for what you have done. As God’s mercy endureth forever, the penalty for sin if you do not accept Christ as your Savior endureth forever. Notice in this verse, that the goodness of God leads. It does not drive. God does not force you to turn from your sin and trust in His Son. He lets you make your own decisions.
If we already have accepted the mercy of God, then these words should cause us to live a life of thankfulness to God for what He has done for us; a life of worshiping Him in song, admiring His character.
God’s goodness and mercy should cause us to long to be good like He is, to live a holy life. Just as Jesus dedicated His life to providing mercy for us and leading others to God, even so may that be the desire of our hearts. How we should long for others to know Him!
If we would fulfill the function of the temple then, which is to bring glory to God, we must learn from these verses where God was so intensely glorified. May our lives be dedicated to God’s glory as we strive for the following:
- Reach out to gather others to God’s house.
- Live a life of faithful integrity.
- Praise and worship God in unity with other believers.
- Sing unto God a new song that would glorify Him for His holiness and love.
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” Psalm 100