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There were a number of Levites that King David assigned as worship leaders in the tabernacle choir, according to 1 Chronicles 6:31-32. Asaph was one of these men (1 Chronicles 6:39). Asaph's duties...
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Under King David, Asaph was appointed the chief of the Levites which ministered before the ark of the Lord. (I Chron 16:5). These Levites regularily played instruments and were to worship and praise the Lord before the ark of the covenant. At that time, the ark was inside a tent which David had pitched for it. Asaph sounded the cymbals (I Chron 16:5). I Chron 16:8-36 details the first song of praise which David commanded them, which is a magnificent psalm of the majesty of God, "...Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved...." Asaph, along with the other appointed Levites he was in charge of, praised the Lord in the manner required of them for each day. Their job was a permanent worship band. Many of their services were likely timed with the morning and evening sacrifices that Zadok the High Priest offered, and other special times. Asaph also wrote twelve of the Psalms written in scripture. In most Bible translations these will be Psalm 50, and Psa 73 - Psa 83. These psalms tend to be a combination of praise to God, prophetic warnings to Israel, and cries to God for rescue. "From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages." Psa 50:2-3 "But to the wicked person, God says: “What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips?...“Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you:" Psa 50:16, Psa 50:22 "How long will the enemy mock you, God? Will the foe revile your name forever? Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!" Psa 74:10-11 "Make them like tumbleweed, my God, like chaff before the wind. As fire consumes the forest or a flame sets the mountains ablaze, so pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your storm. Cover their faces with shame, Lord, so that they will seek your name." Psa 83:13-16 One of the most famous psalms of Asaph is Psalm 73. In it, he ponders several questions such as, 'Why pursue goodness if it seems wickedness is rewarded?' and 'why do good people struggle?' Much like the book of Habbakuk, he concludes that it is better to take refuge in his Sovereign God, for the wicked will one day be judged for their crimes. "But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." Psa 73:2-3 "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psa 73:25-26 Psalm 78 is another of his Psalms, and useful for Bible study as it goes through much of the history of Israel. Asaph also had many sons, who were placed under their father. They were musically inclined and prophesied under King David. (I Chron 25:1-2) The example of Asaph was later used as the basis for appointing music directors under Zerubbbabel and Nehemiah. (Neh 12:46-27).
Great question, also asked by Janis Neiheisel on this website. Herbert Lockyer has a wonderful collection of volumes starting with "All." A sweet, wise, elderly lady, Iva, in my Genoa City church gave me a few. Lockyer's "All the Men of the Bible" was one of them and, it is classic. From it I gleaned: Asaph was the son of Berechiah of the Gershonite family appointed by David over the service of song and by Solomon in the Temple services. "Heman's first assistant was Asaph from the clan of Gershon. Asaph's genealogy was traced back through Berekiah, Shimea." (1 Chron. 6:39 NLT); 1 Chron. 15:17, 19 -- "So those who made melody, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were put in position, with brass instruments, sounding loudly." (1 Chron. 15:19 BBE).
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