Once again, these chapters repeat some of what’s already been written in Samuel and Kings. Again it’s interesting to notice what’s different in this telling. Chapter 22 is completely new. At the beginning of 1 Kings, David’s advice to Solomon was mainly about who not to trust. Here he prepares and plans the building and life of the Temple, and makes sure that his son understands the importance of finishing what David was not allowed to see through.
The Chronicler does seem to want to show a more consistent and holy David than did the earlier author – Uriah hasn’t played a major part in the story, and it’s clear that it’s David who is really behind the Temple, even though it’ll be Solomon who lays the foundation stone. It’s a subtly different picture from the David of Samuel and Kings, perhaps because it comes from quite a while later. We’re often readier to ignore the embarrassing weaknesses of heroes when they’ve faded a little into the past.
It’s something else, though, on which my thoughts have focused today. We’ve already read about the Temple musicians, and we read more about their instruments and work. It might not be a bad idea for worship musicians to spend a bit of time reflecting on 1 Chronicles 25. It’s a reminder that performance quality isn’t all – important, but that a heart for worship is. All the musicians, teachers and (presumably confident) pupils all draw lots to decide who plays when. Within this chapter is the mention of prophecy with instruments. We generally associate prophecy only with words or symbolic actions, but God can also speak through music without words. Twice I’ve been part of worship where I have felt this happen, and it’s a powerful thing. For our musicians in church, listening to God should be as important as practising the songs. When both come together, incredible things can happen.
There are others involved in the Temple as well. The gatekeepers, workers, managers of people and of money. Without them the priests and musicians would not have a functioning Temple in which to worship! And this hasn’t changed. At St Thomas’ we still depend on churchwardens, servers, readers, welcomers, church council, fundraisers, editors, a great administrator… And many more.
All those who play a part in the worship we offer or in the care of the buildings where it is offered should perhaps study the rest of these chapters. At the very least, it’s a reminder that their practical work is just as much part of God’s plan as are the songs of the choir and the sermons of the minister. And this isn’t something new – since the first Temple it has been this way. While there is still a church, it will be this way.