Preparation for Worship; Development of Music in Worship
2 Samuel 6:9–12; 1 Chronicles 15:1–16
Samuel Lesson #127
April 10, 2018
“Father, we’re so grateful we can come together this evening and we can spend time before Bible class in prayer and bringing before Your Throne of Grace the needs of those in this congregation. Father, we continue to pray because there are a couple of people who are still not back in their homes following the flooding from Harvey. There are still some folks with minor financial and some facing major financial needs. We pray that You will supply those needs.
“We pray, too, for the outreach of this congregation through Dean Bible Ministries and through other means as we pass out tracts and give out literature. We pray that You will use that to bring people to a knowledge of You and to pique their curiosity and their desire to know the truth.
“Father, we continue to pray for our nation. We pray for our leaders from the national level all the way down to the local level, that You would raise up men and women who understand the principles of biblical truth and the Constitution of this nation that we may continue to be a free people.
“We pray tonight as we study Your Word that we can come to a greater understanding of the issues we are studying. In Christ’s name. Amen.”
We are continuing our study in 2 Samuel. Tonight I want you to turn in your Bibles to 1 Chronicles 15. Actually 1 Chronicles 15 and 16 tell us a lot more about what was going on at the time that David is moving the Ark into Jerusalem.
Chapter 15 starts off with his second attempt to move the Ark into Jerusalem. Chapters 13 and 14 dealt with the first mistakes and problems. It’s important for us to look at this expanded revelation which we have because there are some important and valuable lessons for us spiritually.
All of this relates to a most misunderstood doctrine today and that is the doctrine of worship. What we see here is the development on David’s part of the corporate worship of Israel. It’s not the personal worship of each individual believer but what should happen and what our goals should be in terms of corporate worship when the body of Christ comes together.
We learn these principles from what was done in the Old Testament. We’ll look at the preparation for worship and then what we’ll see in this particular chapter is the development of the great Levitical musicians, the orchestra and the singers, and the organization there. We’ll also see the implications of that for studying, as I said, a most misunderstood doctrine today, which is corporate worship.
Just by way of review, we see in 2 Samuel there are these three divisions. First in chapters 2–10 we see God blessing David and the expansion of David culminating with the great Davidic Covenant and the implications for Israel’s future into eternity, and the rule of the Greater Son of David, the Messiah, over the Messianic Kingdom.
That is followed by David’s great sin with Bathsheba, his conspiracy to have her husband killed, and David’s confession and recovery. God disciplines David but because of David’s humility, his submission to God, and his confession, God transforms that cursing into blessing. He doesn’t take away the punishment but David is able to endure the punishment through the use of Scripture and promises. Therefore it is used by God to further develop his spiritual growth.
The end of the book deals with the six different episodes related to the promises of the Davidic Covenant.
We are looking at 2 Samuel 6 with the Ark being moved from Kiriath-Jearim into Jerusalem. We’ve looked at the first part of that incident, which was not done correctly.
We looked at the history of the Ark several weeks ago as God shows He’s perfectly capable to take care of Himself and to provide for Himself. The Ark was captured by the Philistines at the Battle of Aphek. It was taken into enemy territory and as it was, they attempted to make God a prisoner of war, but God wouldn’t cooperate.
As they tried to put God as a captive under the control of Dagon, it was Dagon, the idol, that falls down prostrate to worship God. It’s a great picture of what worship really is.
What we learn from the Scripture is that God has a way we are to worship Him. He sets down the protocols. Worship is objective. It is not subjective.
What do I mean by that?
Objective means that worship follows certain principles of Scripture. No matter how we feel, if we go through those principles then we will be worshipping God and emotion will follow.
But we’re all susceptible to emotion. We live in a culture that has idolized emotion. If we reject reason and intellectual activity as having anything to do with understanding God or finding meaning or purpose in life, defining the purpose of life and where we’re headed, the only thing we’re left with is emotion. Emotion becomes the criteria for everything.
We see this every day. If you think about this as an interpretive grid for understanding what’s happening everywhere from the White House to Sacramento to Austin to North Dakota, you see this nation is being ruled by people enslaved to their emotions, no longer by people who are thinking objectively and rationally.
We looked at the fact that God lays down certain rules. Let’s just review these.
First of all in Numbers 4:5 we’re told that it was Aaron and his descendants who were the Levitical priests responsible for carrying the Ark. There were specifics described. There was a veil of the screen that was to be taken down and was to cover the Ark of the Testimony, the Ark of the Covenant, and that then was to be covered by porpoise skin (which some say is badger skin) which was heavier. There’s debate over the meaning of that word, but it was a thicker, more rugged animal hide.
That covered the Ark. The Ark was not to be open to prying eyes. People were not to gaze upon God. This was the Throne of God between the cherubs. It was off-limits to people. That emphasizes the uniqueness of God and the holiness of God.
Exodus 25:15 tells us there were poles which were to be permanently kept with the Ark. They were not to be taken from it so it could be carried not by people reaching and grabbing the Ark itself, but by picking it up by the poles.
In Deuteronomy 10:8 we’re told that the tribe of Levi was to carry the Ark. Numbers 7:9 specifically says it was to be carried by the descendants of Levi. We’re going to look at the genealogy of Levi. Kohath was one of three sons. There was Gershon, Merari, and Kohath. Those were the main three sons of Levi. The primary emphasis in descent were to be the descendants of Kohath. Not that there weren’t others who served. Amram, the father of Moses, is a descendant of Kohath.
You will see others who are the heads of clans of Levitical priests which are the descendants of Kohath. This is the primary line, and it is members of the clan of Kohath who were to carry the Ark on their shoulders.
We looked at the geography here that this line [lower blue line] is where the Philistines brought the Ark and put it on a cart that was taken by a milch cow to Beth Shemesh. They had a little celebration but got too close and familiar with the Ark and came under divine discipline.
They called upon those in Kiriath-Jearim. Then Abinadab, who is a Levitical priest, had the Ark kept at his house until the time of David. Virtually it’s forgotten and ignored during the time of Saul before it is brought by David to Jerusalem.
What we saw in those first eleven verses in 2 Samuel 6 is that God demonstrates that He is Holy. He’s in control. He doesn’t need any help. When the cart that was carrying the Ark hits a bump and was jostled and Uzzah reaches out to stabilize the Ark, the text uses a word that is more serious than simply touching it. He is treating it irreverently.
There is more going on. We don’t know what but there is more going on than simply the fact that he reaches out and touches it. He seems to be looking at it. Perhaps he peers under the covering or something like that where he treated the Ark in a blasphemous, irreverent manner. As a result of that we saw that God took his life immediately.
The response from David is anger and fear. Last time we traced that through the Scripture to show what God does to Uzzah is not out of character for God. It doesn’t show that God is some harsh, arbitrary judge that just randomly punishes His people, but that this is a pattern of how God is to be treated by His creatures.
God is not to be treated just like a friend, in the words of the hymn, What a Friend we Have in Jesus, where we have made God our familiar buddy in our very informal culture. We see that God is to be treated as the Creator of the universe. He is to be treated with respect and awe, bordering on great fear.
We know there are horrible consequences when His character is violated and when His protocol for handling the Ark is violated. David is angry. He’s doing this his own way. He’s not following the protocol of Scripture and what God is showing here is that man doesn’t control God.
God is loving. God cares for us. God provides for us. He’s gracious. He’s generous. But never think that we’re in control of God. God is the one in control.
David in Psalm 119:20 says, “My flesh trembles for fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments.” This is the attitude that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” and it’s repeated in the Psalms and in Proverbs. We are to treat God with great respect.
Then I concluded last time with this statement in Leviticus 11:44–45, “For I am the Lord Your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourself with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”
God is a holy God. He is totally unique, totally distinct. He is the Creator. You go and look at pagan religions. They’re all very similar. The gods they worship are part of matter. The gods of the pagans are part of the system. Often their universe is made out of the body of some god who is killed in some primordial combat.
Matter is eternal, much like we have in modern evolution theory. Yet in the Scripture there is this juxtaposition that occurs. When Abraham defeats the Chedorlaomer alliance in Genesis 14, he returns to Jerusalem and sees Melchizedek, who is a priest of the mighty God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. That is something profound.
None of the other kings worshipped the God who was the Maker of Heaven and Earth. They did not have that Creator/creature distinction that was understood by Melchizedek. So Abraham knows this is someone else who worships the true Creator-God of Genesis 1. God is distinct in His righteousness. He is unique in His justice and His love and all of His attributes. There’s nothing like God, so He is to be treated as totally other, totally separate.
So now we come to the second attempt to take the Ark into Jerusalem. A fuller account is given in 1 Chronicles 15 and 16. I want to talk about this preparation that takes place. This is a ceremony of great pomp and circumstance. We live in a culture since the 60s that has glorified informality and has reduced things to the lowest common denominator.
This is something I’ve mentioned many times. There’s a great observation by a world-class historian by the name of Arnold Toynbee at the beginning of the twentieth century who said, in a culture that is in the ascendancy, developing, growing, etc. the lower socio-economic groups are imitating those who are successful. They look up to them. They want to emulate them. They want to be successful themselves so they want to dress like those who are successful. They want to talk like those who are successful. They want to listen to the kind of music of those who are successful and that shapes them.
But Toynbee also recognized that in a culture in decline, you have the upper classes imitating the lower classes. They’re going to follow the fashion trends of those who live in the ghetto, those who are impoverished, those who are not well-educated. They are going to let the lower socio-economic classes dictate music styles, fashion styles, and tastes and trends of things of that nature. It shows the corruption that occurs in every civilization in human history.
They go through cycles from defeated and being downtrodden by other nations up to the point where they have freedom and some sort of great success. Then they don’t pass the prosperity test. Then they go through the decline. These are cycles of civilization that take place.
What we see here is that as Israel is in the ascendancy, they are developing these categories, these styles for corporate worship, involving organization, preparation, and music, so that it will all come together at a cultural highpoint for Israel to present a magnificent form of worship to glorify God.
We see it beginning here in 1 Chronicles 15 in a way that it’s not in 2 Samuel 6 so we’ll look at this. Basically this chapter is broken down into four sections. In the first three verses we learn about the second attempt to bring the Ark into Jerusalem.
David goes to the Scripture for correction. What we see here is the leader of the nation willing to humble himself under the mighty hand of God. He is willing to go back to the Scripture and say he failed, he made a mistake, he disobeyed the Lord, he violated the Scripture, and he is going to recognize his failure and he is going to correct that failure so he has success. It shows a genuine humility on the part of David.
His initial reaction is one of anger. We typically get angry when things don’t go the way we want them to. He had developed this ceremony to bring the Ark into Jerusalem initially and then this horrible thing happened with Uzzah and then David is brought up short and he’s angry. At the same time there’s fear. Often that happens to us if we analyze our emotions at times. That’s what we will experience.
When something happens that’s totally unexpected that stops you in your tracks and you don’t get things the way you want, you’re angry. Often at the same time there’s some fear mixed with that because you don’t know what to do and it may lead to some mighty collapse.
What David does is something he’s done over and over again. He goes to the Lord in prayer. He goes to the Scriptures and now he is going to fully implement what the Scriptures have revealed as to how the Ark of the Covenant is to be handled.
As a result, he recognizes the Levites are the ones who are to be in charge of the transportation of the Ark. He organizes them in ways that perhaps they have not been organized before. Now there has been an organization. If we wanted to take the time we could go back to Leviticus and Exodus and see how God was very specific about how the Israelites were to march through the wilderness.
Every tribe had to be in a specific location. The twelve tribes surrounded the tabernacle. The Levitical priests were in the center. Those carrying the Ark would lead the nation as they went through the wilderness. Specific people were assigned the responsibility to carry each thing. So, there’s an organization.
Now that they are settled in the land, there really hasn’t been revelation as to what they’re to do and how they’re to carry out a more permanent form of leading the nation in worship and in their walk with the Lord. Remember after they came into the land, after the initial conquest, they set up the Tabernacle about twenty miles or so north of Jerusalem at a place called Shiloh. It is in the mountainous area of what becomes the Northern Kingdom, what is known as Samaria.
In fact, you can go there today. It’s very interesting and fascinating to go to the archaeological area of Shiloh because later on there were some other villages and towns built there that were in the intertestamental period and later. You can go up in a high tower in a heavily forested area where people watch for fires and smoke on an observation deck.
You can go up there and it’s very rugged. It’s like the hill country here in Texas where you have these rather steep sides. It’s not mountains like you have in Colorado but you have these hills that come down and there’s really no place that’s flat except one area.
That spot is abnormal. You look at it and you realize that it has been flattened by humans. If you go over and measure it, it is the dimensions of the tabernacle. They have excavated there and found some very ancient artifacts that document the presence of the tabernacle. It was there for over three hundred years.
But remember when they had the first Battle of Aphek when they took the Ark of the Covenant with them to give them good luck in gaining victory over the Philistines, the Ark got captured. Then the question is what happens to the tabernacle?
Actually, the tabernacle was brought down to Gibeon and set up but the Ark wasn’t there. The Ark is separate. So now David is going to reunite the Ark of the Covenant with the tabernacle, but he’s not going to take it to Gibeon. He’s going to provide a temporary place.
His vision is to eventually have a permanent dwelling for God [on earth] so he’s moving the Ark. He’s learned that not only does he have to have organization of the Levites to accomplish this, but their organization was lost even though they still had temple service. Remember the story about Eli and Samuel and all of those things? But it’s after that it seems to fall apart, during the reign of Saul.
David has to reorganize the Levites, which is part of what this passage covers in verses 4–10. Then he realizes that according to the Law, they have to be prepared spiritually. They have to be ritually cleansed in order to supervise the worship. They can’t just do whatever they want to do.
There are specific guidelines in the Law as to how they are to conduct themselves. David is going to do something else in the last part of the chapter, verses 16–26. He’s going to organize and develop the musical worship of the Lord.
There’s been musical worship before. We can think of Miriam’s song of victory over the Egyptians back in Exodus. We can think of the psalm of Deborah after she and Barak have defeated the Caananites back in Judges 5. We can think of the hymn that Hannah writes back in 1 Samuel 2, the psalm that she writes. So there’s music and there are psalms, but we don’t have the development and the sophistication until David comes along.
This is a great example to us of how a believer can take and develop something within the framework of what God has revealed. It’s important to think about this with David, because David does this in a very structured and orderly manner.
We’ve gone through many psalms as we’ve gone through 1 Samuel. There’s structure and order to those psalms. It’s not just free verse or people just writing whatever they want to. They follow certain structures and certain patterns because God is a God of order and God is a God of structure.
This is 1 Chronicles 15. We’re going to talk about what happens when David fails to bring the Ark back to Jerusalem the first time and how he goes to the Scripture for correction.
To begin with, I want to go through some introductory principles of corporate worship, things to look for. Someone had posted on my Facebook page a critique of some church in Florida (it doesn’t matter which church it was) but I looked at this critique and it was very interesting.
As I said, it doesn’t matter what the ultimate issue was or the problem they were critiquing. What they describe as happening in the worship in this church is what happens in about 80% of churches. We’ve gotten this ecumenical form of worship. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a liberal Methodist, a conservative Baptist, or whether you are a ritualistic Roman Catholic, or whether you are a free-wheeling Charismatic.
What has been happening over the last forty years is a major shift in the music of the church which, in my opinion, has contributed greatly to the “dumbing” down of Christianity and to the destruction of doctrinal purity.
I remember the first time really seeing this was in the late 90s. We had gone up to Connecticut and you would see a number of with signs that would say something about a contemporary service on Saturday night or Friday morning. It didn’t matter if it was a Lutheran, Presbyterian, Congregational, or Roman Catholic Church, they were all having these contemporary worship services singing the same songs.
Back for many centuries, if you went to a Roman Catholic Church, you did not sing the same hymns that you sang at a Presbyterian Church. If you went to a Baptist Church you would not sing the same hymns that you sang in a Charismatic Church. Some would be similar, but there were many that were different. Today, it somehow jars me and I have seen this about three times now at a Roman Catholic Church where they sing A Mighty Fortress is Our God.
I wonder how they can sing a hymn written by Martin Luther that extolls the greatness of God when fundamentally they disagree with everything the man stood for and wanted to take his life. What this reveals is that we don’t think there’s any real significance to the music or the lyrics anymore. We just sing it because it’s traditional and it feels good or its contemporary or whatever it might be.
However, the writer of this article about whatever is going on in this generic, non-denominational church that is really slipping into heresy says, “At this church in Jacksonville, Florida, which is a type of church in the fashion of (he mentions another church), what they loosely refer to as a rock-and-roll church. The worship music is an endless series of repetitive choruses designed to get the listener into an ecstatic state where feelings are in the forefront and the critical thinking areas of the brain are disengaged. The music is loud, very loud, with laser lights and smoke machines, to complete the effect in an MTV music video.”
There’s a lot of these churches now. In fact, one of our former deacons who moved away was invited by a friend to a church service which they attended just out of curiosity. They were amazed.
See, what happens? Y’all are sheltered. You’ve been sitting here listening to me teach in what is called a traditional church service for I don’t know how long. You haven’t been out there among the pagan Christians. There are a lot of pagan Christians, which is why they’re so impotent spiritually.
The feedback I get is amazement that churches really do this and they do it everywhere. We are like an island of spiritual sanity in a sea of pagan, emotional ecstasy that has nothing to do with the Bible. This couple that was from our church went and it got dark. Then the smoke machines came on and you have to create this atmosphere. You see worship to them is an act of creating drama.
You don’t see any of this in the Bible. You don’t see any of this when Jesus is praying with the disciples. He doesn’t cause the sun to dip down and to get darker. You know, the fog coming in. You don’t see any of this type of nonsense because these churches define worship in terms of a feeling, so they have to generate dramatics and this kind of feeling in their congregation.
The congregation will ooh and aah about what a wonderful worship experience it was, but if you ask them what they learned about God, they say something like, “He just made my heart happy.”
You didn’t learn anything about God? God didn’t convict you of sin? God didn’t teach you to trust Him? You just had an emotional experience. That’s not Christianity. That’s paganism. See, this is what happens.
This is what this guy is describing here. He talks about the laser lights and smoke machines to create this environment. It is in this environment that the listener has now been made susceptible to whatever suggestions are coming through the “preacher”. None of what you see at a “celebration service” is in line with anything you will read about in the Bible about how a New Testament church service should be run.
Nothing at that church is done “decently or in order” as Paul commands. It is like a nightclub with its incessant and pulsating and groaning music, stunning the listener into submission. He points out 1 Corinthians 14:33 in the King James which says, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
Not only this but the writer points out that this church is where women are given the rank of pastor even though Paul says this is not to be. The pastor of this church he is describing says his wife is his “other Holy Spirit” as well as the co-pastor of the church. Then he quotes from 1 Corinthians 14:34 that “women are to keep silent in the churches for it is not permitted unto them to speak.” This wasn’t a cultural thing but he always grounds his argument in the creation.
This brings to mind another man who I think went to Dallas Seminary. He had been a professional basketball player and he played in 1980 and 1981 for the Dallas Mavericks so that “he could go to seminary in Dallas.” In three articles I read he is labeled an extremist, radical pastor.
Now what makes him an extremist, radical pastor? First of all, he doesn’t believe in homosexual marriage. Number two he doesn’t believe that women should be pastor or the leader in the home. Number three, he believes that the Bible should be the subject of Bible study and it should be led by a pastor. He takes almost a year to go through many books of the Bible. [Don’t laugh at this. Of course, I take three or four to go through some books.]
He believes in verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter study of the Word. He is considered a radical, extremist and is thus, dangerous, because he is leading Bible classes in the White House with Cabinet members. This is the world in which we live today.
Of course, those are pure pagan unbelievers writing those articles who don’t understand anything about spiritual things, but the sad thing is there’s a lot of pagan Christians. They may be believers. They may have trusted in Christ and have an eternal destiny in Heaven, but they have fallen away. They have apostasized. They don’t understand what is going on.
Let me give you a couple of introductory principles of worship that we should keep in mind as we go through this study.
First of all, God defines worship. We don’t define worship. God tells us when it’s worship and when it’s not. It’s not how we feel. It’s what God thinks about it according to the standards of His Word.
He defines how we worship and the conditions by which we worship. In the Church Age, we’re to worship by means of the Spirit and by means of the truth. Those phrases are clearly spelled out and explained later in the New Testament epistles.
Second, worship is not determined by how we feel. Worship is defined by our conformity to His righteousness and His revelation. The focal point of worship is God, not me. It’s not about me. It’s not about how I feel. It’s not whether or not I had an encounter with God. It’s whether or not I submitted to God’s Word. That’s the focal point.
The third point is that worship means to bow down to God. That’s the core meaning of the word. Originally it had this idea to kiss. You would kiss the ground when you bowed down to a king or to God, so it came to mean bowing down as you give honor and respect to the One you worship. It’s not about the worshipper. It is all about God.
Fourth, worship has order and structure. That doesn’t mean there’s not some room for spontaneity, but it is within a very structured order. It has planning and purpose because God is a God of order. 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace.”
There it has the idea of stability and it comes in the middle of 1 Corinthians 14 where Paul is correcting the tongues speaking, which was a pagan way of getting to know god. It was part of the worship of Dionysius. It’s part of the worship of the various pagan gods and goddesses that you had in the ancient world.
The Oracle of Delphi had ecstatic utterances, so the way they taught that you entered into relationship with gods or goddesses was through these ecstatic utterances. The Corinthians, who were all of twenty miles from Delphi, would equate the biblical miraculous speaking in languages they had not learned with these ecstatic utterances. This led to mysticism and contributed to the whole carnal breakdown in the Corinthian church.
So let’s look at the meaning of worship. The English word derives from an Old English word “weorthscipe” according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary which is to acknowledge the value or worth of something, to honor someone in recognition of merit. The idea of worship is that you’re bringing honor and reverence to someone because of their greatness and their position, whether it is a king or a ruler or whether it is a god.
The first meaning they give is this, “A feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” Notice that I put a question mark there. The Bible never defines it as a feeling but they are defining it this way because that’s how it’s used. Remember what you have in any dictionary are the meanings that reflect usage. They don’t say that this is what this world always and absolutely means. There’s no place that says this is the objective benchmark for every term.
That’s why you’ll see these meanings change. Charity at the time of King James in 1601 is quite different from what charity means today.
Notice the fourth definition in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary is an archaic definition, which means “honor given in recognition of merit”. That’s really the meaning of worship in Scripture. It means honoring God.
How do we honor God? Ultimately we honor God by learning what He has revealed to us and then obeying it, submitting to it. That’s what it means to bow the knee.
That’s the basic meaning of the English word. It’s always important whenever you’re translating from one language to another to not only understand what a word means in the original language, but to understand what the word means in the target language.
A lot of people just say, “Oh, this is what the Greek and Hebrew means.” They tell you what the English is but they never really stop and define what the English words mean.
The Hebrew word derives from a root HAWA and it usually is in what is called the “histaphel stem” which means to posture yourself to worship or bow down on the ground.
That’s the core meaning. It’s an expression of submission to someone who is a higher authority. It may be a king or in the case of the worship of God, it is submission to the authority of God. This is done in some different ways.
For example, the first use of the word worship in the Old Testament is found in Genesis 22:5. It is when Abraham is taking his son, Isaac, to Mount Moriah to sacrifice him. We are coming back to this significant episode.
As Abraham leaves, he leaves a servant with the donkey and he and Isaac are going to carry the wood for the sacrifice up to Mount Moriah. He gives instructions to his servant to stay with the donkey while he and Isaac go and worship and we will come back to him. Notice he says we will come back. He is supposed to be sacrificing Isaac but he understood right there that Isaac would be coming back with him.
He’s going there to worship. What’s he going to do? He is going to obey God by offering a sacrifice. Initially he knows he is to sacrifice his son but we understand from Hebrews he knows that either God will provide a substitute or He will bring Isaac back from the dead. But he is going there to obey God and carry out God’s command.
A couple of chapters later the term is used again twice in reference to Eliezer, the servant of Abraham who has been sent to find a wife for Isaac. When he discovers Rebecca, after that, he bows down his head and worships the Lord. In context he’s giving thanks to God for having answered His prayer. That is one form of worship. Notice it is bowing the head and worshipping.
Twenty-two verses later he says, “I bowed down my head and worshipped the Lord and blessed the Lord God of my master Abraham who had led me in the way of truth to take the daughter of my master’s brother for his son.” It’s the same idea.
When you get into Greek in the New Testament you have similar meaning. The Greek word PROSKYNEO basically means to worship, to obey, or submit to someone, to prostrate one’s self, or to do reverence to. The first time we see it in the New Testament, it is the magi who have come to worship the infant Jesus and to bring gifts.
In Matthew 2:11 they came into the house and saw the young mother and her baby and they fell down or bowed down and worshipped Him. When they had opened their treasures they presented the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Another significant passage using this term is in John 4:23–24 when Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman at the well. That’s significant because the Samaritans did not worship at the central sanctuary in Jerusalem. They had their alternative sanctuary, their temple was up on Mount Gerazim. Some of you have been there with me. So that was the debate between the Samaritans and the Jews, whether they should worship in Jerusalem or up on Mount Gerazim.
Jesus says it’s not going to matter much longer because the time is coming and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father by Spirit and by truth. Literally by means of the Spirit (Holy Spirit). He’s talking about the Church Age when the Holy Spirit will come and we’re to walk by means of the Spirit and by means of truth, which is God’s Word, as Jesus prayed in John 17:17, “Sanctify them by truth. Thy Word is truth.”
We’re sanctified by the Word of God. We’re not sanctified by singing. Singing is a result of walking by the Spirit. It is not the means of spirituality. Jesus goes on to say, “God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him by means of the Spirit and by means of truth.”
This lays the groundwork for us to think about this topic as we go forward. In 1 Chronicles 15:1 we learn that they have brought the Ark in for the first attempt, and that David built houses for himself. He built buildings, a palace for himself, and other buildings. Now he had started some of that before he started to bring the Ark in.
The Ark is only at the house of Obededom for three months. So he can’t build the palace and do all of that in three months, so he had begun to do that. Along with preparing a place for himself, we are told that he prepared a place for the Ark of God, and pitched a tent for it. There are three things going on here. He’s taking care of his own dwelling place—he’s building himself a palace. Second, he prepares a place for the Ark.
He’s not going to take the Ark to Gibeon and reunite it with the Tabernacle. Third, he’s going to build a tent here. So he prepares a place for the Ark, a location, and then he pitches a tent there. The Ark will reside there in Jerusalem for some time.
There is debate as to exactly where he put it. It’s not up on Moriah at this point, which is the threshing floor of Aruna, the Jebuzite. Some suggest that when David was fleeing from Saul, the priests were at Nob and he goes there to get bread and Doeg the Edomite is there. Doeg is responsible for getting the priests slaughtered by Saul.
That is on Mount Scopus, which is where the Hebrew University is today, just to the north of the Mount Olives. That is believed to be the place where David would have constructed this tent and this is the temporary location of the Ark of the Covenant. This is where the priest community was to live.
The echo of this is in 2 Samuel 6:17 which is the conclusion of our chapter. “So they brought the Ark of the Lord and set it in its place in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it.” The word “tabernacle” doesn’t mean the Tabernacle. It’s the Hebrew word mishkan from the root shakan where we get our word shekinah. It merely means a dwelling place, a habitable place.
It shows up as a cognate in different languages. For example, you have the word skeineh, same consonants and it means a dwelling place. In John 1 we’re told the Lord tabernacled among us. That’s the verb SKENOO. It shows up in Russian and several other languages and it has that idea of a dwelling place. That’s all that’s being said here, that David establishes this tent or dwelling place for the Ark for a temporary location, and he offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.
All of this I think is a summary statement of what has transpired in the chapter. In verse 2 we read that David says, “No one may carry the Ark of God but the Levites.” This didn’t seem to affect his thinking before since Abinadab and his sons had taken care of the Ark. He had let them handle it. They’re probably Levites, but David knows there’s a problem with how the Ark was transported.
He says here, “No one carries the Ark but the Levites for the Lord has chosen them to carry the Ark of God and to minister before Him forever.” What did he do before? He put it on a cart. Now he recognizes that the Levites are to carry the Ark. The word for “minister” is a Hebrew word that is predominantly used to describe the priests in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. It has that idea of serving God in the ritual of the Tabernacle.
In 1 Chronicles 15:3 David gathers all Israel together at Jerusalem. This is a huge deal, like the inauguration of a president or the gathering at a funeral for a president. People will come from all over. You will have 100,000 to 200,000 people coming from around Israel, from the ten tribes, to witness the transportation of the Ark. He is making this a huge celebration.
One of the things I have seen in my years as a pastor as we become more laid back in a lot of things we do and more informal is that we have lost an appreciation for the formal. I remember this back in the 80s. I went to a couple of ordinations and there wasn’t much of a to-do about these because we really got into an anti-authorities view toward all authority, but especially toward any individual like a pastor.
People wrote books saying a pastor is just one of the elders. He’s no better. He has no more position or prestige than anyone else and that’s just dead wrong because he’s been gifted with the gift of pastor/teacher. He is the gifted leader of the congregation. It doesn’t mean he’s a dictator or a tyrant, but he’s been specially gifted by God and that gift needs to be trained and recognized. We call that recognition an ordination.
I remember going to a couple [of ordinations], including my own, although the pastor who ordained me, Harry Leafe, at Tomball Bible Church did bring in a special speaker and there was more of a special setting. The ordination interview and interrogation was private. I was with the elders of the church in a room and they asked me questions.
Later, when I was at Berachah, we did ordinations and I think that’s how it should be done. The congregation was invited to come and listen to the interrogation. There were other pastors who were invited to participate in the questioning of the candidates. It was something everyone saw and it reinforced to the congregation the significance of ordination, that this is truly setting apart a man who has been gifted by God to lead a congregation. There was pomp and circumstance, not because these people were important, but because the mission and the gift given was significant and as such, needed to be dealt with by people with respect.
That’s the kind of thing you have here. You’re not going to just put the Ark on the back of a Ford pickup truck and haul it up to Mount Scopus. This is going to be a huge celebration. That’s another aspect of worship. It’s a celebration.
So all of Israel comes together. It’s going to be organized. It’s going to be structured and it’s going to be planned in order to show the high level of significance this has. David is going to organize the Levites. He’s going to organize them in terms of an orchestra.
This was a huge orchestra. This wasn’t just a small group of eight or nine pieces. It was a huge orchestra, probably several hundred were involved, which means they had to have rehearsals, organization, and planning.
Then you had a choir that was going to sing psalms and it’s the same thing. You have to train. You have to discipline the people. You have to rehearse so all of those things come together. This is the second thing that takes place, David organizes the Levites for the movement of the Ark.
This is where we’ll stop tonight. We’ll go through these verses from 4–10. You look at these names and they have no significance, but the Bible records these names for a reason. We’ll tie that together next time and lay the groundwork for why we need to have a structured, organized worship. Most of what is going on today in the guise of contemporary worship which is in 90% of churches is really a blend of paganism. A paganistic worldview undergirds the music and the whole definition of what worship is, something that’s all about me and not all about God.
“Father, we thank You for this time to come together to reflect upon who You are, Your being, Your holiness, the fact that You are totally distinct from anything that we can imagine. You have provided for us in such a rich way our salvation, and You are to be honored in a way that goes beyond what we would do for honoring any human being.
“We recognize that You are the Creator God who made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them.
“Father, we pray that You will help us think carefully about how to honor You and glorify You, because this is not something to be confused with anything that happens in any other realm of our life and experience. Father, we need to always remember that our life is to serve You and to honor You and to glorify You, and it’s all about You and not about us.
“We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”