Worthy of Praise

Posted: September 8, 2010 in 1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 15-16, “Worthy of Praise”

So what would YOU do? As the king of Israel, you had attempted to have the ark of God brought up to the capital city of Jerusalem, in a good-hearted attempt to help the people focus upon the Lord in revival. Yet you do it wrong, and someone dies by the wrath of God, and you have to leave the ark at someone’s house. All the while, the eyes of the nation are upon you, so not only do you suffer the grief of someone’s death at your hands, but the shame of everyone knowing what happened.

At this point for many, they would curse God & leave the whole “religion” thing behind. Not so with David! David certainly had a setback, but his faith in God was not broken. If anything, David’s failure only served to underscore the holiness of God & how incredibly worthy of praise & worship God is. And David’s not going to waste a single opportunity he has to declare the worthiness of God!

1 Chronicles 15 (NKJV)
1 David built houses for himself in the City of David; and he prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched a tent for it.

A. Describes the basic context of where we are in 1 Chronicles. The author has shown how God has already blessed David & exalted him as king… Now that David is established at Jerusalem, he naturally builds houses for himself.
B. His own luxurious houses are going to play a critical part in the Messianic covenant God makes with David – keep that in mind for Ch 17.
C. Where was the ark to be placed? In a “tent.” Likely this is not the ancient original Tabernacle from the time of Moses. What happened to the original Tabernacle, we don’t know – David apparently made a temporary home for the ark.

2 Then David said, “No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the LORD has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.”

A. Though we’re never told when David searched the Scriptures to learn this, it’s obvious he’s done his homework! This was indeed the Law…God specifically instructed Moses to have poles made for the ark to be carried & gave the service of carrying the ark to the Kohathites of Levi (Ex 25:14, Num 7:9).
B. Note that God specifically “chose” the Levites for that purpose. They had the privilege of being called by God to “carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.” … This was their inheritance from the Lord…

a. Likewise, we have been “chosen” by God! An amazing thought… 1 Peter 2:9-10 (9) But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (10) who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. []

3 And David gathered all Israel together at Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the LORD to its place, which he had prepared for it.

A. The fact that “all Israel” is there is important. All Israel was present earlier in David’s failure when he attempted to have the ark of God brought up according to pagan means. … Now they would be witnesses to David’s repentance & the blessing of God.
B. As the king of Israel, it was obviously important for the people to see that God not only held the king accountable for his actions, but that God blessed David when he did right. What was true of the king was true for the nation – David’s failure provided an object lesson for the people. … Thus the restoration was important for everyone to see.

a. A similar concept holds true in our family or with our friends. Sometimes we’re afraid to let others see our weaknesses – those times that we’ve failed in our walk with the Lord… Obviously no one likes failure, but it’s important for our children (and others) to know how the people of God react in times of failure: through confession, repentance, & restoration… … [Peter publicly failed; Peter was publicly restored…continues to serve as a lesson to us today]

4 Then David assembled the children of Aaron and the Levites: [vss. 5-10 lists 868 men from the various families within the tribe of Levi] … 11 And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. 12 He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it.

A. These (along with David) were the spiritual leaders of the nation. They were instructed in two specific areas to provide spiritual leadership in this situation:

a. Lead in personal sanctification: for the priests, they were to abstain from certain practices & foods – they were to bathe themselves – take certain ceremonial steps to show themselves set apart for service. Basically, they were to walk in visible holiness.
b. Lead in ministry service: carrying the ark was not a duty they would delegate away – it would be something they personally did. It would be upon their shoulders the ark was placed in service to God.

B. It’s not a big leap to find the application to parents & grandparents. You are spiritual leaders within your families (especially husbands/fathers!)…you are to lead by example. It’s tough to expect your children to walk in holiness when we as parents don’t… It’s tough to expect our children to worship & serve the Lord when we as parents do so by kicking & dragging our feet…

a. Don’t forget: leadership is a privilege! The Levites had been chosen & appointed for this task (vs. 2), God had set this before them as their spiritual service back unto the Lord. We ought to never look at our responsibility of spiritual leadership in our homes as an unwelcome burden, but rather as an awesome privilege – one in which we know we can continue to ask the Lord’s help & empowerment through the Holy Spirit in accomplishment.

13 For because you did not do it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.”

A. If truth be told, it wasn’t just the priests who did it wrongly; it was David! That may be assumed by the author, but it’s worth remembering. The buck stopped with David.
B. The lesson that was learned is simple: the people of God can only approach God in God’s way. … We cannot randomly decide how we want to worship God or what God must do for us in order for us to worship Him. … It sounds ridiculous to make such a statement, yet that’s exactly what people do! Common objection: “I’d worship the God if He did XYZ, but since He doesn’t, there’s no way I could worship a God like that!” What a dangerously arrogant view to have! GOD is God; we are not! Outside of Christ, we are but sinful people in rebellion against our Creator; we are in no position to make any demands upon God whatsoever! It’s only by the sheer grace of God that we are even extended an invitation into relationship with Him through Jesus Christ… We MUST come to God in God’s chosen way, or we cannot come to God at all…

14 So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel. 15 And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD.

A. The priests & Levites followed through on David’s instructions. Ultimately, of course it wasn’t the instruction of David; it was the instruction of God, detailed in the Bible. They knew the commandment of the Lord as outlined in the Scripture, and they followed the word of God to the letter.
B. Do it according to the word! We’ve been given God’s revealed word in the Scripture – we have no excuse NOT to know what He has to say on any given matter…

16 Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy.

A. This was to be quite the processional! An entire orchestra would be accompanying the ark to Jerusalem… David was already a skilled musician in his own right – apparently he told the Levites to grab every instrument at their disposal to use them to praise God.
B. A study of the musical instruments listed in the Bible can be interesting, for those who are so inclined. One of the instruments David personally used in his Psalms was “An instrument of Gath” (Ps 8, 81, 84) – something that was originally used to make music in the pagan land of the Philistines was redeemed in its use to praise the Lord. A similar argument can be made for guitars, drums, etc., in the use of praise & worship.
C. Note how it is the Levites were to sing: “with resounding joy.” Oh, that our praise would be the same! Not to mutter our way through songs in order to “get them out of the way” prior to the message – but that we would truly sing with joyous hearts to our Lord & King! Of all the people on the planet, we have reason to sing with joy – we’ve been saved! We’ve been given new life – we’ve been forgiven – we’ve been brought into the family of God…we have many reasons to rejoice with resounding joy!

17 So the Levites appointed Heman the son of Joel; and of his brethren, Asaph the son of Berechiah; and of their brethren, the sons of Merari, Ethan the son of Kushaiah;

A. These were the leaders. Vss. 18-21 go on to list those of “second rank,” the gatekeepers, the singers, the cymbal players, the string players, and the harpists…

22 Chenaniah, leader of the Levites, was instructor in charge of the music, because he was skillful;

A. This ought to be a memory verse for anyone on a worship team or choir. Whereas most of the people of God only need to give a joyful noise unto the Lord, the worship leaders/song leaders need to have skill. We wouldn’t start a construction project with a foreman who couldn’t swing a hammer – why would the singing be any different? There’s no reason to give any less than our very best to the Lord God – He’s worthy of it!

23 Berechiah and Elkanah were doorkeepers for the ark; 24 Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, were to blow the trumpets before the ark of God; and Obed-Edom and Jehiah, doorkeepers for the ark.

A. “trumpets” = Not a reference to the Hebrew shofar. The shofar was a hollowed out ram’s horn used to call people to attendance or battle. This was a different trumpet used in music & worship of God.
B. Note who one of the doorkeepers for the ark was: Obed-Edom. The one who had the ark brought into his own house all this time had the privilege of leading the ark back to its permanent home in Jerusalem…

25 So David, the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the house of Obed-Edom with joy. 26 And so it was, when God helped the Levites who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that they offered seven bulls and seven rams. 27 David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who bore the ark, the singers, and Chenaniah the music master with the singers. David also wore a linen ephod.

A. Joyful time & celebration… Huge sacrifices taking place in praise of God. The parallel account in 2 Samuel 6 tells us that sacrifices took place every 6 paces. They took immense steps to declare the holiness of God!
B. David was clothed as one of the Levites. [] We see the same thing in the NT (specifically Revelation), when the saints of God are clothed in fine white linen, symbolizing the righteousness of Christ.

28 Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn, with trumpets and with cymbals, making music with stringed instruments and harps. 29 And it happened, as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came to the City of David, that Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David whirling and playing music; and she despised him in her heart.

A. Stark contrast! On one hand, you have an entire nation of God’s chosen people worshipping God & praising Him with joyous hearts & every musical instrument imaginable. On the other hand, you have one of the wives of the king (none less than the daughter of the previous king – a true princess of Israel!) despising the worship she witnessed. As she watched her husband freely dance before the Lord, Michal wanted nothing to do with him & was apparently disgusted at his display of devotion.
B. There will always be people who despise worshippers of God. There will always be naysayers claiming, “You look ridiculous! What on earth do you think you’re doing? Why can’t you behave with dignity?” Obviously God is a God of order, not of confusion – the Bible does not condone wild erratic emotion-driven behavior in worship. Yet the Bible DOES consistently call us to worship God with our whole heart. That’s at the very essence of the Great Commandment… (Mk 12:30) So what to do when someone despises your whole-hearted worship of God? Realize your worship is not a display for others; it’s a display for God…you have an ‘audience of one’ – and God is worthy of the fullest worship you can possibly bring to Him. …
C. What’s interesting about Michal is that we have no indication that she was actually a worshipper of God at all. Here we have the entire nation rejoicing in the Lord, and one person standing at her window with her arms likely folded in rejection of the whole thing. Michal had every advantage at her fingertips: raised in the house of the king – the prophet Samuel as a regular guest in her house – her own father prophesying (when he wasn’t in sin) – married to the sweet Psalmist of Israel & the present king anointed of God. Yet none of this was apparently enough to bring her to saving faith. Our salvation in Jesus Christ is not given to us based upon our family history, our position in society (or in church), or any other external measure. Our salvation is given strictly by grace through faith in Jesus Christ…

1 Chronicles 16 (NKJV)
1 So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. Then they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God.

A. Even more offerings were given. Burnt offerings to declare their consecration to God… Peace offerings to celebrate the relationship they had with God…
B. Obviously Jesus shed the final sacrifice for our sin – but there are still offerings of praise we can give to God (Heb 13:15)… Our whole lives ought to be an offering back to God for the glorious things He has done (Rom 12:1)…

2 And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD. 3 Then he distributed to everyone of Israel, both man and woman, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins.

A. Not only did David give the Lord an offering, David gave back to the people – blessing them with gifts of celebration… Everyone was included on the blessing!

4 And he appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to commemorate, to thank, and to praise the LORD God of Israel:

A. This was to be an ongoing service to God. The initial transport is completed, but the praise is to be continual. Three aspects to their service:

a. “to commemorate”: How important it is to remember the things of God & the marvelous work of Jesus Christ! Just to take a step back from our troubles & remember His work on our behalf is enough to help our hardened hearts crack & give glory to God… This is one of the primary purposes of the Lord’s Supper!
b. “to thank”: Once we remember, we cannot help but give thanks. Our list of thanksgiving is never-ending – every breath we’re allowed to take in Jesus Christ is another reason to give thanks unto God. The very way we are to present our requests to God in prayer is through thanksgiving (Phil 4:6). Why? He’s already done so much already on our behalf!
c. “to praise”: The natural culmination of remembrance & thanks. As we give thanks to God, we give Him praise that He deserves & tell others of the wonderful works of God.

5 Asaph the chief, and next to him Zechariah, then Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, and Obed-Edom: Jeiel with stringed instruments and harps, but Asaph made music with cymbals; 6 Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests regularly blew the trumpets before the ark of the covenant of God.

A. Listing those who took part in the continual worship of the Lord…
B. Keep in mind that this was an earthly version of what actually happens continually in Heaven. God is forever being praised by the heavenly host…

7 On that day David first delivered this psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank the LORD: 8 Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! 9 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!

A. Partially included in Ps 96, 105 & 106. It’s possible David had already written the other psalms & then presented this compilation to Asaph.
B. Starts off with a call to worship…invoking all people everywhere to come and praise the Lord. Who is it we praise? “the LORD” – this is the covenant name of God. Israel wasn’t to praise some generic idea of God (which we often hear in our own national circles); they had someone specific to praise, and it was the God of their fathers who had promised land, blessing, and a Messiah…
C. How do we praise? Publicly. The Hebrew idea of praise was almost always public. To praise God silently in our hearts is a good thing, but it doesn’t have much to do with the ancient concept of “praise.” To “praise” God was to speak to God & others of the many things God had done…to “talk of all His wondrous works” & to “make known His deeds among the peoples.”

a. We have marvelous deeds of God to speak of! We can shout of our salvation from the very rooftops, if need be…

10 Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD! 11 Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face evermore!

A. Not only do we praise God publicly, we DO worship God internally & sincerely. Our hearts are to rejoice in Him & we are to glory in His wonderful name… This is a timely reminder! In our culture, it’s easy to find ourselves trying to glory in other things (our own name/reputation – our finances, etc), but all those other things pale in comparison with God Almighty – the only One who is truly worthy of glory!
B. As we glory in God, we seek His face & strength in prayer…

12 Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth, 13 O seed of Israel His servant, You children of Jacob, His chosen ones! 14 He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth. 15 Remember His covenant forever, The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, 16 The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac, 17 And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel for an everlasting covenant, 18 Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan As the allotment of your inheritance,”

A. David moves from the call to worship & praise to the many reasons Israel had to praise the Lord:
B. Praise God for His choosing. God declared Himself to be THEIR God, and chose Israel to be HIS people…
C. Praise God for His promises/covenant. God made the covenant with Abraham & reaffirmed it with Isaac & Jacob…

19 When you were few in number, Indeed very few, and strangers in it. 20 When they went from one nation to another, And from one kingdom to another people, 21 He permitted no man to do them wrong; Yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, 22 Saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm.”

A. Praise God for His protection. When they were enslaved in Egypt, God brought His people out with a mighty hand & outstretched arm. When nations came against Israel in the wilderness, God provided for His people with food/water & gave them miraculous victories against armies more powerful than themselves. When God brought Joshua into the land, He expelled the Canaanites who were already there & gave Israel houses they did not build & vineyards they did not plant. This tiny nation that by all rights should have been exterminated from the earth not only survived, but they were protected by the very hand of God, to His glory.

23 Sing to the LORD, all the earth; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. 24 Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.

A. Looking back at history, David could sing of the salvation of the Lord – he had been a witness of it with his own eyes. Everything God had done for Israel was reason enough to give Him praise among the nations. Yet, as wonderful as God’s works were on behalf of Israel, they were physical & temporary – they only pointed towards the infinitely better work God has done for our salvation in Jesus Christ! We have even MORE reason to praise His name & declare His glory among the peoples…

25 For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is also to be feared above all gods. 26 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. 27 Honor and majesty are before Him; Strength and gladness are in His place.

A. Not only did God show His mighty power in His deliverance & salvation, He shows Himself to be the only God. There are no other gods but OUR God – He is God alone…

28 Give to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Give to the LORD glory and strength. 29 Give to the LORD the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!

A. All the things of God demands a response from His people. How do we respond to the wonderful works of God? By giving to God that which He deserves: glory, strength, offerings, worship & more.
B. Do we worship God “in the beauty of holiness”? On one hand, we continue to struggle with sin – yet on the other hand, we’re continually being made “more” holy as we continue to walk with Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. God uses His holy word to set us apart & transform us into the men & women He desires for us to be. God has already set us apart as holy – we’ve already been given the righteousness of Christ, and yet as we continue to strive to walk in ongoing holiness & maturity, we learn what it means to worship God in the beauty of holiness. The work He’s already done in us & the work He continues to do in us is truly beautiful!
C. A different thought on the “beauty of holiness” is that it’s not speaking of OUR holiness, but of the holiness of God. For the Hebrew priests, they would come before God in the beautiful holy of holies – for the heavenly sanctuary, the cherubim continually sing of the holiness of God – for us, we come through Jesus boldly to the throne of grace & worship God as our Holy Father, one day to do this in His very presence at the crystal sea. Either way we look at the phrase, God is certainly worthy of our praise – His work & holiness is beautiful!

30 Tremble before Him, all the earth. The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved. 31 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; And let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.” 32 Let the sea roar, and all its fullness; Let the field rejoice, and all that is in it. 33 Then the trees of the woods shall rejoice before the LORD, For He is coming to judge the earth.

A. Not only do the people of God respond to His greatness, but all of creation responds to the Creator. The earth trembles before Him & the heavens rejoice & the seas roar in anticipation of the 2nd coming of Christ to judge the earth…

34 Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 35 And say, “Save us, O God of our salvation; Gather us together, and deliver us from the Gentiles, To give thanks to Your holy name, To triumph in Your praise.” 36 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel From everlasting to everlasting! And all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD.

A. David’s closing praise ends with a familiar refrain: God is good & His lovingkindness (hesed) is everlasting! (As we would say, “God is good all the time…”).
B. Finishes off with a quick prayer for continued protection & blessing. David gives thanks in advance, in anticipation of the deliverance that will come in the future to the attacks that have not yet taken place. To an observer, that might seem illogical & even pessimistic (why pray for deliverance that’s not yet needed?) – yet to David, it’s simply a matter of faith. Of course the attacks will come – but God has already proven Himself to be abundantly faithful; why wouldn’t David give God thanks & praise in advance?

37 So he left Asaph and his brothers there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister before the ark regularly, as every day’s work required; 38 and Obed-Edom with his sixty-eight brethren, including Obed-Edom the son of Jeduthun, and Hosah, to be gatekeepers;

A. Those left with the ark for ongoing ministry. Obed-Edom has been given a permanent position in serving God with the ark…truly a blessed man for simply being available to be used of the Lord.

39 and Zadok the priest and his brethren the priests, before the tabernacle of the LORD at the high place that was at Gibeon, 40 to offer burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar of burnt offering regularly morning and evening, and to do according to all that is written in the Law of the LORD which He commanded Israel;

A. Ongoing sacrifices. David has learned the lesson about doing things according to the word of God, and he makes every provision to ensure that this is going to last beyond the initial event of bringing the ark to Jerusalem. To bring the ark of God to Jerusalem according to the Scripture, but then neglect the rest of the commandments regarding sacrifice & worship would be a waste – it must be continual!
B. We unfortunately see something similar often in conferences & revival meetings. People & teens pour their heart out to the Lord & “get right” in rededication – which lasts for all of a couple of days, at which point they go right back to the way they were before. If their “rededication” was so temporary, it’s only right to ask what exactly was dedicated? Commitment to the Lord is just that: commitment. It’s more than a temporary emotional event; it’s an ongoing walk submitted to our Lord Jesus.

41 and with them Heman and Jeduthun and the rest who were chosen, who were designated by name, to give thanks to the LORD, because His mercy endures forever; 42 and with them Heman and Jeduthun, to sound aloud with trumpets and cymbals and the musical instruments of God. Now the sons of Jeduthun were gatekeepers. 43 Then all the people departed, every man to his house; and David returned to bless his house.

A. Not only would the sacrifices be ongoing, but so would the praise & worship. This was a specific group of Levites who had the sole job of offering thanks & musical praise to God. His worship never ends, because there’s never a reason to stop giving God praise. He’s ALWAYS worthy of praise!

God is worthy!! He is so incredibly worthy of our praise & worship – there is no other being in all the universe worthy of glory like our God! The things He’s done for us through Christ Jesus is absolutely astounding & it ought to leave us in humble awe of our Lord & God. Like the Levites, we also need to remember – to thank – to give Him praise…

When was the last time you told someone of the glorious things that God has done for you? May we be a people quick to give God praise & to ascribe glory to Him!

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