1 Chronicles, Amplified Bible (AMP)
6:31 These David put over the service of song in the house of the Lord after the ark of the covenant rested there [after being taken by the Philistines and later placed in the house of Abinadab, where it remained for nearly 100 years during the rest of Samuel’s judgeship and Saul’s entire reign and into David’s reign].32 They ministered before the tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting with singing until Solomon had built the Lord’s house in Jerusalem, performing their service in due order.
9:33 These are the singers, heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites, dwelling in the temple chambers, free from other service because they were on duty day and night.
15:16 David told the chief Levites to appoint their brethren the singers with instruments of music—harps, lyres, and cymbals—to play loudly and lift up their voices with joy.
These old testament verses reveal something interesting. Although there are several differences between ‘the children of Israel’ back then and Christianity as we now know it, we can learn a lot from the Levites when it comes to serving as minstrels today.
Context: The Sanctification of Levites
Scholars have said that 1 Chronicles serves as a means to document the history, genealogy, and organization of the twelve tribes of Israel as David assumed the role of king following Saul’s death. The first several chapters read a lot like the book of Numbers, containing lists of fathers and their children. During the days of Moses, Aaron and his tribe, the Levites, were set apart to fulfill the responsibility of all things relating to the tabernacle and the tent of meeting. The priests and other Levites were sanctified, or set apart, for the purpose of serving God and the rest of God’s people much like the pastors, deacons, ministers, ushers, musicians, singers, etc of today.
“…free from other service…”
It is important to note that, unlike today, those that served ‘the church’ were 100% dedicated to whatever role they had. They were not allowed to work or have any other inheritance. They were supported, completely, by the other tribes. Further, those that ministered in song where freed from any other duties but performed their service of music night and day. It seems that someone knew then that those who minister in song need lots of time to adequately perform. It is reasonable to guess that other Levites had multiple duties; however, the minstrels’ focus was not divided.
Free… to WORK
I have to admit, at first glance, I would think I’d absolutely LOVE to do music all day, every day. Of course, this came (and comes today) at a cost. Financially, all Levites had no other business and their living totally relied on what was given by the other tribes. Nehemiah the prophet later found that the Levites had to return to secular work because their needs were being neglected (sounds familiar). And I’m pretty sure that this the same reason for a certain familiar tithe & offering scripture in Malachi 3. But I digress. Aside from this dependence, it was the singers and musicians that were often put at the front of the war, not with weapons, but with their voices and instruments.
Dedicated To The Cause
Overall, when we as minstrels (musicians and singers alike) compare ourselves with our Levitical counterparts, the one thing that should be similar is our level of dedication. If you sing or play an instrument already, just think about ALL the hours you have already dedicated to your craft. If, additionally, you are part of a local music ministry, then you already know the regular time commitment that differentiates you from the average church-goer and even many others that work for your church. Further, for many of you, you receive a small fraction of what is considered the cost a living, if you are compensated at all. Even still, I urge you to realize that you are serving in a role that David, your church, and God views as highly important to God’s people. I also want to encourage you to give God “100%” every time you serve whether it is you daily devotion, a weekly rehearsal, or Sunday morning service.