“They forgot!” (1 Chronicles 6; Psalm 78)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 6; Psalm 78

Today’s Scripture reading consists of two lengthy chapters. 1 Chronicles 6 continues our study of the genealogy of the Twelve Tribes of Israel that began with 1 Chronicles 1 and will conclude with 1 Chronicles 8. Psalm 78continues our study in the Book of Psalms.

1 Chronicles 6 – The Genealogy of the Tribe of Levi

1 Chronicles 6 gives the ancestral record of the priestly tribe of Levi. Prominent at the outset are “the children of Amram; Aaron (the first high priest), and Moses (the prophet who led Israel out of Egypt), and Miriam (the sister of Aaron and Moses). The sons also of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar (6:3).

Eleazar, the son of Aaron, succeeded his father as high priest. 1 Chronicles 6:4-15 records the line of high priests to the time of the Babylonian captivity. Other Levite families are noted (6:16-30), for they assisted the high priests in their duties, especially in the care of the Tabernacle and its implements.

Musicians had a prominent role in Israel’s worship, and the lineage of singers, composers, and those who led in congregational worship is recorded (6:31-47). Three notable musicians and their lineage are indicated:Heman, who penned Psalm 88, and was the grandson of the prophet Samuel (6:33-38; 1 Samuel 8:2,3). Asaph, whose name we have noted on several occasions in the psalms (6:39-43). Also, 2 Chronicles 29:30 identified Asaph as a “seer,” a prophet. Finally, there was also Ethan, who was the author of Psalms 89.

While the priests were charged with handling the sacrificial offerings, and only the high priests were permitted to enter the Holy of Holies (6:49; Hebrews 9), there were Levites who assisted the priests in what is described as “all manner of service of the Tabernacle of the house of God” (6:48). Though their tasks may be considered menial, nevertheless, they were necessary for the service of the LORD, and the worship of His people (6:48). They would have assisted the priests in killing, flaying, and boiling sacrifices, providing water and wood, and carrying away the ashes.

1 Chronicles 6:54-81 accounts the names of Levite cities. Unlike the other tribes, the Levites did not receive a territorial inheritance; however, forty-eight cities in the midst of the tribes of Israel were designated to them, including six cities of refuge (Numbers 18:20; Joshua 20:1-9; 21:1-42).

Psalm 78A Challenge to Heed the Lessons of the Past

Psalm 78 is titled, “Maschil of Asaph,” meaning a psalm of instruction, and is a study in the history of Israel, and God’s faithful, providential dealings with His people. I suggest Psalm 78 can be summed up in two words, “They forgot.”

Philosopher George Santayana observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana’s reflection is certainly evidenced in Psalm 78.  The psalmist presents in seventy verses a panorama of Israel’s history, marked by the tragic failure to hear, remember, and heed the spiritual lessons of God’s providences and dealings with His people. God had chosen Israel to be the custodians of His Law, and Commandments. He had blessed, and entrusted the Hebrews with His Word.  Each generation was challenged with “shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, And his wonderful works that he hath done” (78:4).

Fathers and mothers were charged with the responsibility of not only remembering, but also teaching their children. In turn, each generation was to teach every successive generation not only that nation’s history, but God’s providential care of His people (78:3-8).

Tragically, Israel forgot! They broke their covenant with the LORD (78:10), and forgot His works, miracles, and all that He had done for Israel when He brought them out of Egypt (78:11-12). They forgot how He divided the Red Sea (78:13), and led them through the wilderness (78:14). They forgot that He had provided them water, manna, and meat (78:15-28). They forgot how they murmured against the LORD, and made a pretense of repentance only to turn back to their sinful ways (78:29-39).

They had forgotten how the LORD had delivered them out of slavery, and sent the plagues upon Egypt (78:43-55). They forgot how He brought them to the Promised Land, but they had rebelled, failed to trust God, and turned back to wander in the wilderness until that generation was dead, except for Joshua and Caleb (78:53-58). They forgot how they provoked Him to anger by their wickedness, and when the Ark had fallen into the hand of the Philistines, their priests, Hophni and Phineas, were slain (78:58-64).

Nevertheless, when the time came, God remembered His people, and He “chose the tribe of Judah,” and Mount Zion for his presence in Israel (78:67-69). The LORD also chose David to be king, and to shepherd His people (78:70-72).

A closing thought: Israel forgot the LORD, but the LORD never forgot, nor forsook His people!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith