TODAY’S READING: 1 CHRONICLES 24-26
“But be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” – Ephesians 5:18-21
1 Chronicles 25:1-8 provides a beautiful picture of exactly what Paul said in Ephesians 5:18-21. In this passage David sets apart the sons of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun to prophesy with lyres, harps, and cymbals. Through their music and singing these men prophesied. And, they did it skillfully. When we read the passage beyond the letter, we see that the entire passage is filled with allusions to the Holy Spirit.
PROPHECY IS ABOUT JESUS
The word prophesied appears three times in the eight verses. Despite what we may think, prophecy is not so much about telling the future. It may have appeared that way in the Old Testament, but that’s because all the prophecies were pointing to Jesus, who had not yet come.
Revelation 19:10 says, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” To truly prophesy is to testify of Jesus. This is the very work that the Holy Spirit was sent to us for.
In John 14:26, Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
And, in John 16:13-14, Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
1 Chronicles 25:7 says, “The number of them along with their brothers, who were trained in the singing of the Lord, all who were skillful, was 288.”
In the Old Testament, the idea of someone being skilled was linked to the idea of someone being filled with the Spirit for a specific task. Read through the instructions for and the building of the tabernacle and you will see the word skill (although different they are different Hebrew words than the word for skill in the verse under consideration) used throughout to describe the men who would construct the tabernacle. The two men most responsible for the tabernacle, Bezalel and Oholiab, were said to be filled with the Spirit.
The Hebrew word for skillful here is bin, which means to understand or see, to pay attention, consider, teach, or examine. It can also mean to perceive or discern. Bin is the Hebrew root word for the word bayin (spelling?), which means between or interval. It is the Spirit that goes between, that mediates, God and us.
Why were there 288 of these skillful musicians and singers?
The number 288 is 9 x 32.
The number nine symbolizes the Spirit. On each branch of the lampstand in the tabernacle there were nine fruit. And, in Galatians 5:22-23, we are told the fruit of the Spirit has nine aspects:
The number 32 symbolizes covenant throughout the Bible.
If counted correctly, the 32nd time Noah’s name appears is in Genesis 9:17, which says, “God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.'” The 32nd time Abram is mentioned is when Melchizedek, a type of Jesus, gave him bread and wine, symbols of the new covenant, and blessed him. The 32nd time the names of other patriarchs are used reveal something about the covenant as well.
The number 32 is spell by the Hebrew letters lamed and beth, which are the two letters used to spell the word heart in Hebrew.
Therefore, 1 Corinthians 1:21-22 says, “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
Ephesians 1:13-14 says, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
The Holy Spirit guarantees the promises of God, the covenant of God, for us. Because we have the Spirit, we know the covenant of God will be fulfilled.
And this is why we sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to each and make melody to the Lord in our hearts. It’s to prophecy of Jesus and remind each other of the promise of his covenant.
As you study the passage in 1 Chronicles 25:1-8, take note of the meaning of the names – Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman – and the numbers of their children and how those numbers are divided and you will see they all speak about the Holy Spirit and how we are to sing prophetically with our hearts.