Chapter 24 therefore continues with the children of Aaron (excluding Nadab and Abihu – see Numbers 3:4), organising the priests by sixteen heads under the sons of Eleazar (organised by Zadok), and eight under the sons of Ithamar (organised by Ahimelech) – listed under v.7-19, by casting lots and leaving it to the LORD’s decision (Proverbs 16:33). David then moves on to organise the musicians in chapter 25. Note the quality of the men chosen, and their gift of prophecy – (i) the sons of Asaph who prophesied under Asaph (“collector of the people“), and Asaph who prophesied under the direction of the king; (ii) the sons of Jeduthun, under the direction of Jeduthun (“praising“), who prophesied with the lyre in thanksgiving and praise to the LORD (v.3); and (iii) the sons of Heman, under the direction of Heman (“faithful“). Not only were these men prophetic (v.1), but these were skilled (v.7) and were above all compliant with the orders of the king (v.6). Again, these men were chosen by casting of lots for their small and great duties, reserving these decisions once again to the LORD. Such men, filled with the Holy Spirit, thus combine their musical talents to worship, to praise, and to prophecy – and they are brilliant models enabling us to see the different corners of the ancient Church doing His work through various means.
Next, chapter 26 re-counts the divisions of the gatekeepers, sons of Meshelemiah (friendship of Jehovah, v.2-3); sons of Obed-edom (servant of Edom, v.4-8; the sons of Shemaiah, son of Obed-edom, in v.7-8); sons of Merari (sad, bitter, v.10) – lots, too, were cast for their duties and gates as follows:
1. East: Shelemiah (whom Jehovah repays) (six Levites each day)
2. North: Zechariah (Jehovah is renowned / remembered), a shrewd counselor (four Levites each day)
3. South: Obed-edom and his sons (four Levites each day, as well as two and two at the gatehouse)
4. West: Shuppim (serpents) and Hosah (refuge) (four Levites at the road, and two at the colonnade).
Ahijah (brother / friend of Jehovah) is then described in v.20 as having charge of the treasuries of the house of God and of the dedicated gifts, the sons of Jehieli (treasured of God) (sons of the Gershonites belonging to Ladan – v.21-22) being in charge of the treasuries.
Shelomoth (peaceful), another from the line of Moses (v.25), with his brothers were in charge of all the treasuries of the dedicated gifts (v.26-28).
It is interesting how the description of the gatekeeping comes before the allocation for the gifts; for the temple itself requires gatekeeping not due to the gifts; nor does the temple itself require protection. Quite the contrary, as was the case with the flaming sword in Eden (Genesis 3:24), the purpose was for our protection (c.f. 1 Chronicles 13:10) so that we do not waltz into the temple without the blood and robe of Christ (Isaiah 61:11). The temple treasuries and dedicated gifts are but a re-treading of Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek (Hebrews 7), but it is the gatekeeping of the temple which reminds us that our offer of worship through such gifts are to come after the objective truth of our sin which must be dealt with at the temple by the blood of the Chosen Lamb.
And the other sons of the Kohathites (assembly) (c.f 1 Chronicles 23:12), the Izrahites (descendant of Zerah, rising of the sun) were appointed to external duties; the Hebronites (alliance) had oversight of Israel westward of the Jordan for all the work of the LORD and for the king’s service; Jerijah (people of Jehovah) of the Hebronites in particular was responsible for the genealogy or fathers’ houses – appointing him and his brothers to have oversight of the Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe of the Manassites.
Thus, chapters 24-26 clarify once again the importance of the Levites in the important works surrounding the temple and also consolidating Israel’s identity as priesthood to all nations (Exodus 19:6) before its military persona (described in chapter 27, after the allocation of roles to the Levites in chapters 23-26) which is but temporary and holds no candle to the peace which the true Solomon shall bring to Israel (1 Chronicles 23).
Concluding these chapters, Matthew Henry comments on David’s allocations of roles in particular in relation to the Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe Manassites:
“Either those remote tribes were not so well furnished as the rest with judges of their own, or because they, lying furthest from Jerusalem and on the borders of the neighbouring nations, were most in danger of being infected with idolatry, and most needed the help of Levites to prevent it. The frontiers must be well guarded. This is said to be done (as were all the foregoing settlements) in the fortieth year of the reign of David (v.31), that is, the last year of his reign. We should be so much the more industrious to do good as we can see the day approaching. If we live to enjoy the fruit of our labours, grudge it not to those that shall come after us.”
One would imagine military allocations would be more fitting if these men were placed on the borders of Israel most susceptible to pagan invasion or influence; yet, in David’s wisdom and in the LORD’s will through His divine allotment, the priests continue to take the higher and preceding role in Israel’s identity to the other nations. Never once should Israel confuse itself as a neighbouring nation (Deuteronomy 18:9), but to remember that it is a nation chosen to be saved by the grace of the Father through their submission to the Passover Lamb.