One can read through the Bible and easily miss this part of David’s preparation of the choir for God’s temple. But while reading God’s message on the 12th day of May this year – I Chronicles chapter 25, I find that there is a profound learning behind the mere appointment of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun.
1 Chronicles 25:1~7;
1 Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was:
2 Of the sons of Asaph; Zaccur, and Joseph, and Nethaniah, and Asarelah, the sons of Asaph under the hands of Asaph, which prophesied according to the order of the king.
3 Of Jeduthun: the sons of Jeduthun; Gedaliah, and Zeri, and Jeshaiah, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the hands of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp, to give thanks and to praise the LORD.
4 Of Heman: the sons of Heman; Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, and Romamtiezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, [and] Mahazioth:
5 All these [were] the sons of Heman the king’s seer in the words of God, to lift up the horn. And God gave to Heman fourteen sons and three daughters.
6 All these [were] under the hands of their father for song [in] the house of the LORD, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God, according to the king’s order to Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman.
7 So the number of them, with their brethren that were instructed in the songs of the LORD, [even] all that were cunning, was two hundred fourscore and eight.
To begin understanding, let me share with you what the names of these three men mean in the Hebrew translation.
- Asaph – Collector
- Heman – Faithful
- Jeduthun – Laudatory (applicable to Praise, Bemoaning, Thanksgiving)
Together, they can be joined to form, in my understanding, their description of God’s purpose for them: “Collection of Faithful Singers”
Quite a clue there, but the Word of God shows more. Verse 1 of this chapter shows that these three shall “prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals”.
In the first verse, the phrase ‘to prophesy’ uses the Greek word ‘naba’ to mean – ‘speak with inspiration’, applicable in this case is for these men to sing with inspiration and with instruments – harps, psalteries, and cymbals!
How wonderful our God is. He has provided us with a lot of ways which we can serve Him. Singing songs and playing instruments for Him, prophecy came from men like these appointed for the service together with the priests (who were normally assigned with trumpets! see 1 Chronicles 15:24; 16:6).
Each of these 3 men were described a ‘seer’ in separate passages. To be a seer means a beholder in vision, a prophet.
Asaph in verse 1 prophesied according to the order of the king. His name is on the following Psalms – 50, 73,74,75 until the 83rd, a total of 12 Psalms. He received the psalm from David on 1 Chronicles 16:7~36. This was the time when David brought the ark of the covenant into the tent he himself pitched for it after he conquered Jerusalem. The verses from 7th till the 22nd is found identical to the Psalm 105:1~15.
1 Chronicles 16:7~36 says:
7 Then on that day David delivered first [this psalm] to thank the LORD into the hand of Asaph and his brethren.
8 Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.
9 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.
10 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
11 Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.
12 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;
13 O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones.
14 He [is] the LORD our God; his judgments [are] in all the earth.
15 Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word [which] he commanded to a thousand generations;
16 [Even of the covenant] which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac;
17 And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, [and] to Israel [for] an everlasting covenant,
18 Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance;
19 When ye were but few, even a few, and strangers in it.
20 And [when] they went from nation to nation, and from [one] kingdom to another people;
21 He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes,
22 [Saying], Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.
23 Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation.
24 Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations.
25 For great [is] the LORD, and greatly to be praised: he also [is] to be feared above all gods.
26 For all the gods of the people [are] idols: but the LORD made the heavens.
27 Glory and honour [are] in his presence; strength and gladness [are] in his place.
28 Give unto the LORD, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.
29 Give unto the LORD the glory [due] unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
30 Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.
31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let [men] say among the nations, The LORD reigneth.
32 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that [is] therein.
33 Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth.
34 O give thanks unto the LORD; for [he is] good; for his mercy [endureth] for ever.
35 And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, [and] glory in thy praise.
36 Blessed [be] the LORD God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the LORD.
37 So he left there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD Asaph and his brethren, to minister before the ark continually, as every day’s work required:
Jeduthun prophesied with the harp to give thanks and to praise the Lord. He is labelled as ‘chief musician’ in the psalms of David – Psalm 39, 62 and 77 (the latter psalm being Asaph’s words or ‘prophecy’).
His 5 sons were named and mentioned to have prophesied. His sons also took duty as ‘porters’ or gatekeepers of the temple.
Heman was said to be “the king’s seer in the words of God to lift up the horn” (1 Chronicles 25:5). I would think he was well versed in the Word and I can only conclude his wisdom from that note as he was compared to King Solomon in 1Kings 4:31. It was also specifically stated that God gave him 14 sons and 3 daughters in verse 4. God’s favor was definitely upon Heman and his household.
I can only see of one psalm with Heman’s name on it – Psalm 88 and it was for the sons of Korah. but the sons of Korah had their names on a lot of psalms mostly attributed to an unknown chief musician the lyrical style of which are familiar among the songs and that of Psalm 88.
Asaph and Heman were also singers according to 1Chronicles 15:19:
So the singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, [were appointed] to sound with cymbals of brass;
All three seemed to be attributed to playing or handling harps, cymbals and psalteries. So they’re singing prophetic songs while playing instruments to complete the music. This is true service in Praise and Worship. Its not coming from earthly sources, its coming from the Lord himself.
Im convinced that the gift of songs (and others related to our vocal capacity) is given by the Lord for a purpose and this can be found in 1 Corinthians 14:26 –
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
Recall a few verses before that on verse 15 –
I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater [is] he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
Even during the time of David in the OT, they practiced through the singing of psalms this edifying or the building up of the body of Christ.
I love this verse from Ephesians, chapter 4 verse 29:
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Praise God for the gift of music and this ability to make sounds. Let us not do it in vain but instead for it to minister grace unto the hearers.
Our prayer- Lord God, is for you to have your way with your Word and touch us and move us with it, encourage us and build us up as we hear your words in psalms and hymns and edifying songs. Praise your holy Name dear God our Father in Jesus Christ’s name we pray, Amen.