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 78 continues our study in the Book of Psalms.
1 Chronicles 6
The Genealogy of the Tribe of Levi (1 Chronicles 6:1-30)
The First Fathers of the Levites (1 Chronicles 6:1-3)
1 Chronicles 6 gives the ancestral record of the priestly tribe of Levi. Prominent at the outset is “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 names of the sons of Aaron were: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar” (1 Chronicles 6:3).
The Line of High Priests and Others Who Assisted Them (1 Chronicles 6:4-30)
Eleazar, the son of Aaron, succeeded his father as high priest. Beginning with Eleazar, 1 Chronicles 6:4-15 recorded the line of high priests to the time of the Babylonian captivity. Other Levite families are also noted, for they assisted the high priests in their duties, especially caring for the Tabernacle and its implements (1 Chronicles 6:16-30).
The Ministries of the Levites and the Priests (1 Chronicles 6:31-53)
The Levite Musicians (1 Chronicles 6:31-48)
Musicians had a prominent role in Israel’s worship, and the lineage of singers, composers, and those who led congregational worship was recorded (1 Chronicles 6:31-47). Three notable musicians and their families are indicated: Heman, who penned Psalm 88 and was the grandson of the prophet Samuel (1 Chronicles 6:33-38; 1 Samuel 8:2,3). Asaph, whose name we have noted several times in the Psalms (1 Chronicles 6:39-43). Asaph was also identified as a “seer” or prophet in 2 Chronicles 29:30. Finally, there was Ethan, the author of Psalms 89.
The Ministries of the Priests (1 Chronicles 6:49-53)
The priests were charged with handling the sacrificial offerings, and only the high priests were permitted to enter the Holy of Holies (1 Chronicles 6:49; Hebrews 9). There were also Levites who assisted the priests in what is described as “all manner of service of the Tabernacle of the house of God” (1 Chronicles 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 (1 Chronicles 6:48). The Levites assisted the priests in killing, flaying, and boiling sacrifices, by providing water and wood and carrying away the ashes.
The Cities Appointed to the Levites (1 Chronicles 6:54-81)
1 Chronicles 6:54-81 accounts for the names of Levite cities. Unlike the Twelve Tribes, the Levites did not receive a territorial inheritance; however, forty-eight towns amid the tribes of Israel were designated to them, including six cities of refuge (Numbers 18:20; Joshua 20:1-9; 21:1-42).
A Challenge to Heed the Lessons of the Past (Psalm 78:1-8)
Psalm 78 is titled “Maschil of Asaph,” meaning a psalm of instruction, and is a study of 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 undoubtedly 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” (Psalm 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 also God’s providential care of His people (Psalm 78:3-8).
Ephraim (i.e., Israel) failed to Remember and Heed Lessons from Israel’s History! (Psalm 78:9-72)
Notice that the “children of Ephraim” were identified in Psalm 78:9. In future Scripture readings, we will observe that Ephraim was not only the larger of the northern ten tribes but was also the chief proponent of the rebellion when Israel was divided. Thus, northern Israel was often addressed as “Ephraim.”
Ephraim broke their covenant with the LORD (Psalm 78:10) and forgot His works, miracles, and all He had done for Israel when He brought them out of Egypt (Psalm 78:11-12). They forgot how He divided the Red Sea (Psalm 78:13) and led them through the wilderness (Psalm 78:14). They failed to remember that the LORD provided them water, manna, and meat (Psalm 78:15-28). They forgot how they murmured against the LORD and made a pretense of repentance only to return to their sinful ways (Psalm 78:29-39).
They forgot how the LORD had delivered them out of slavery and sent the plagues upon Egypt (Psalm 78:43-55). They forgot how He brought them to the Promised Land, but they rebelled, failed to trust God, and turned back to wander in the wilderness until that generation was dead, except for Joshua and Caleb (Psalm 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 (Psalm 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 (Psalm 78:67-69). The LORD also chose David to be king and to shepherd His people (Psalm 78:70-72).
A closing thought:
Israel forgot the LORD, but the LORD never failed nor forsook His people!
Questions to consider:
1) Why did the psalmist urge parents to teach their children God’s faithfulness in Israel’s past? (Psalm 78:4)
2) What did the psalmist want Israel’s children not to become? (Psalm 78:8)
3) With what did the LORD lead Israel through the wilderness? (Psalm 78:14)
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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