And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even.
King David, who himself had been a fugitive and a wanderer for many years of his life, would have liked nothing better than to build a permanent dwelling place for the ark of the covenant. But because he was a man of war, Jehovah would not permit David to realize this privilege, so David “called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build an house to the LORD God of Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:6).
The zealous David did all he could to help in the preparations for the building of this temple. He gathered materials, prepared iron for nails and had a crew of masons readied. But an even greater contribution than arranging for the materials may have been David’s initiation of the first full choral service. In conjunction with the chief of the Levites, David set apart three families and commissioned them to the service of the temple. These were not just singers, but prophets as well, “to prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals” (1 Chronicles 25:1). Generation after generation their instruction was handed down from father to son, and their art and musical skills were carefully perpetuated.
These families were those of Asaph, the son of Berechiah the Gershonite, the chief singer and also a distinguished seer; of Heman the Kohathite, the grandson of the prophet Samuel and himself “the king’s seer in the words of God” (1 Chronicles 25:5); and of Jeduthun (or Ethan), a Merarite, who is also called “the king’s seer.” Each of the names of these leaders is found in the titles or superscriptions of selected psalms in the Psalter.
From 1 Chronicles 23-25 we learn that the numbers of Levites involved in the service of the temple and tabernacle was enormous. The three families numbered 288 principal singers, divided into 24 courses of 12 each. The total number of Levites engaged in the important task of praising Jehovah with the instruments which David made was 4,000. Six thousand were designated as officers and judges, 4,000 were set apart to be doorkeepers, and the remaining 24,000 Levites were designated to the general “work of the house of Jehovah.”
Although to us their work may appear to be mundane, it certainly was not to them. They were to wait on the priests for the service of the house of Jehovah, purifying the holy place and the holy things, preparing the shewbread and the meat offering and assisting in the offering of burnt sacrifices on the sabbaths and on feast days. But perhaps their greatest duty, as well as their greatest delight, was “to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord and likewise at even” (1 Chronicles 23:30).
Rising early in the morning, these Levites would initiate the praise to Jehovah that day. This was not only a responsible position but a very meaningful one as well. Psalm 88, a psalm for the sons of Korah designated as a Maschil of Heman, gives a fine example of what these Levites may have said morning after morning in praising Jehovah. “But unto Thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent [come before] Thee” (Psalm 88:13).
Rising early in the morning to initiate a day filled with praise to God is our privilege as well. May we be as faithful in exercising that privilege as David’s choirmasters were. Faithfulness in early praise to God may make the difference between a good day and a bad day.
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;