By Brother Uche Nwosu
Apart from David, and Moses who wrote Psalm 90, most of the other psalms were written by the priests, the descendants of Aaron (Exodus 28:1). Jacob who God named Israel had twelve sons. This is why there are twelve tribes of Israel. The third born was called Levi. His offspring were called the Levites. They were appointed by God in the service of His holy tabernacle. This sanctuary housed the Ark of the Covenant, God’s meeting place with Israel.
Moses and Aaron his older brother were Levites. However only the descendants of Aaron were chosen to be priests among the Levites. They were the ones that attended to the most sacred aspects of worship in God’s house. The rest of the Levites were to assist Aaron and his sons in the discharge of their duties (Numbers 18:1-7).
A study of the Psalms would be incomplete without looking into the ministry of the sons of Aaron – the Levitical priesthood. This is because after Israel settled into the promised land, a major part of their ministry became writing and singing psalms with orchestra (1 Chronicles 6:31-32).
A significant amount of the duties of both the priests and Levites were eliminated when they settled in Canaan. In their prior journey through the wilderness, they continually assembled, disassembled, and conveyed the intricate tabernacle tent that Moses made. Seeing the Levites had more available time, David decided to dedicate them to continual thanksgiving as well as praise and worship, greatly enhancing their God-mandated prayer intercession role. In fact, the singers among them were completely freed from other responsibilities (1 Chronicles 9:32-33). David also utilized them in decision making, requiring them to consult the Lord through prophecy. This became a legacy in Israel because successive kings like Hezekiah and Jehoshaphat relied on prophecy.
The majority of the psalms were written during the reign of David. Prominent priests at the time included Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun. Like David, these sons of Aaron had been anointed with oil to perform their priestly roles, so it’s not surprising that they prophesied. When a person is anointed in the Name of the Lord, the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon upon him and enable him to prophesy. Heman was actually David’s Seer. This means he was a principal prophet the king would consult when he wanted a word from the Lord.
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….
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.
(1 Chronicles 25:1, 25:5-7)
David wrote the majority of the psalms so it’s not surprising that he was called the Sweet Psalmist of Israel (2 Samuel 23:1). It was likely one of the reasons God called him a man after His heart. Of course it wasn’t merely the activity of writing psalms that endeared David to the Lord, but his motivation for doing so. David understood that Israel was special. He was thankful that God had graciously chosen them, and equally favored them, above any other nation. Therefore, he thought it necessary to worship the Lord and give Him the utmost priority. Nowhere are these facts about David’s reverence for God and determination to bring Israel under His rule and covering more expressly recorded than in the first official psalm he handed to the priests after he brought the Ark of the Lord to Jerusalem.
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 marvelous 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 marvelous 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 honor 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 fullness 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.
(1 Chronicles 16:7-36)
Asaph, was second only to David in writing psalms. Some of the psalms he wrote include psalms 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, and 83. Heman Jeduthun, and Ethan were other psalm writers.
David’s role as king was mainly to shepherd God’s people. They were the Lord’s sheep and he was supposed to guide and protect them. He fulfilled this assignment by a lifestyle of prayer and devotion evident in the psalms he wrote. He would always offer psalms of thanksgiving to God. He wrote psalms to reconcile his people to the Lord whenever it was necessary. He wrote psalms before and after war. He wrote Psalm 51 seeking God’s forgiveness after his sin of adultery and culpable murder. He wrote psalms even prior to his kingship, in response to his many travails.
In response to David’s charge, other psalm writers penned Psalm 119, a set of meditations, designed to bring people to the Lord and preserve them in His righteousness.
The priests job was offering sacrifices on behalf of Israel. They were to make intercession for God’s people, as well as offer thanksgiving for His blessings upon them. Priests were also responsible for teaching God’s word. Ezra was a priest of the lineage of Aaron that helped to instruct God’s people at the end of their captivity in Babylon (Ezra 7:6′ 7:10, See 7:1-5). The priests were anointed for service by the Lord so they were also prophets like David (1 Chronicles 25:1-7).
David’s reign as king was unique because unlike any other king of the Jews, he gave the highest priority to the worship of the Lord. It’s no surprise then that he never lost a battle.
Priesthood of the Believer
A study of the Levitical priesthood is priceless for a born again believer because we all have been ordained priests by God through the redeeming work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light
(1 Peter 2:9).
9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (1 Revelation 5:9-10).
If we are priests of the Almighty, then we ought to understand the purpose and requirement of our calling. Accordingly, we have also been called to be prophets. It is evident that there is a relationship between priesthood and the exercise of prophecy. A psalm is a derivative of this relationship.
After we become Christians, what are we supposed to do with ourselves? Most people understand that they have to cease from the worldly sinful lifestyle. A reasonable number of professed believers evangelize and teach converts in answer to the Lord’s command that we preach the Gospel and make disciples. Christians that are committed to a holy lifestyle and share their faith are certainly on the right track, but there is more that we have been called to render in response to God’s gift of salvation and holy calling (2 Timothy 1:6-9).
Jesus said His disciples should be the salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). Salt is a preservative so He was speaking about intercession – a priestly function that involves praying on behalf of others. It is the responsibility of Christians to pray, not only for the church, but the world at large, and by doing so, prevent the wrath of God, and instead, guarantee His favor. Paul the Apostle urged the church to continually make intercession and offer thanksgiving because it was pleasing to God and it had the potential to reconcile sinners with Him (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
Significant aspects of present day Christian ministry, like teaching can be compared to the functions of the Levites. Notwithstanding the all important praise and thanksgiving, as well as prophecy is visibly lacking in a large segment of the church. These activities are either under emphasized or nonexistent.
The typical professing Christian nowadays sees wholesale devotion to God and priesthood as either extreme, or as degrees of religion and faith for pastors and clergy alone. They don’t realize this is God’s will for all His children. They choose to fill their ears, and dance to secular music, rather than saturate themselves with Holy Spirit inspired songs. They are glued to worldly television and social media instead of their Bibles. They compose and write for the world rather than the Lord and His church. Paul urged the believers in Ephesus rather choose the Spirit-filled life that the Lord requires of His redeemed.
14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:14-20).
It is true that Jesus Christ paid the price for sin once and for all (Hebrews 10:10, 10:14). The age of priests needing to offer animal and grain sacrifices ended when He died on the cross for the sins of the world. However, the relevance of priesthood remains. God is seeking sacrifices of the heart now, which were actually His desire from the very beginning (Psalm 51:17). He is now seeking spiritual sacrifices from us having revived us by the operations of the Holy Spirit. This has always been the Lord’s desire, it’s only that it was yet to be revealed.
It is completely misguided to think weekly Sunday church attendance and participation is the extent of commitment God desires. The essence of worship is neither the location nor the congregation.
21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:21-24)
God is no longer interested in the ancient religion of penance that was made necessary because of the sin of Adam. He is looking for the lively religion of faith that is made possible by the sinless Blood of His Son. The offering He desires is that of the heart – a total lifestyle adjustment
1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
As royal priests of God, we must understand the kinds of sacrifices that are acceptable to Him and devote ourselves to them.
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5)
The calling by Jesus Christ is counter culture. The ways of the world run contrary to God’s will. The Christian faith is not man-made and subject to times and interpretation. It is God ordained and fixed. Those that portray it otherwise are the false prophets that the apostles warned about.
12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without (outside) the gate.
13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without (outside) the camp, bearing his reproach (shame).
14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name (Hebrews 13:12-15)
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever (1 John 2:15-17).
Priests are supposed to be prophets. Jesus commanded His disciples to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit foretold by Joel the prophet before embarking on their ministry (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 1:8, Joel 2:30). The anointing by the Lord is what enables a person to accomplish his role as a priest.
Prophecy is not merely predicting the future. It is primarily testifying about Christ (Revelation 19:10). Practically all the prophets in one way or another testified about the Savior. Their own lives told aspects of His story. Joseph was a portrait of the Kinsman Redeemer. Sampson depicted the Deliverer. Job was a picture of the Sin Bearer.
Jesus talked about the fact that He was mentioned in the books of Moses, the prophets , and the Psalms (Luke 24:44, John 5:46). When David instructed the priests to sing the psalms, he told them to prophesy because it was understood that the psalms were the word of God (1 Chronicles 25:1).
Although prophesying is not limited to foretelling events, it is a vital part of it. Many psalms, for example, foretold the coming and dying of Christ. Psalm 22, detailed His crucifixion, Psalm 16 and Psalm 2, His resurrection, Psalm 110, His ascension, Psalm 69, His betrayal.
Intimate devotion to God and vibrant worship engenders prophecy. God’s word is central to the wellbeing of His people. It is instructive as well as revealing (Psalm 119:105, 119:130, 119:33). It brings about healing and deliverance (Psalm 107:19-20, 119:41). God’s word is comforting and sustaining (Psalm 119:165). It is convicting and life giving (Psalm 119:11, 119:50). It builds faith (Romans 10:17).
Psalms are all about devotion, praise and thanksgiving, instruction, testimony, prayer and intercession, justification, as well as prophecy. They are instrumental to our victory as individual believers and the church as a whole. Jehoshaphat was a king that understood the importance of prophets and worship, and God prospered him.
20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lordyour God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever.
22 And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten
(2 Chronicles 20:20-22, See 20:14-19)
Finally, praise and worship is the pathway to personal churchwide revival. In particular, the kind of prophetic praise contained in the psalms compel the Lord and drive the Holy Spirit into action. The world is yearning for the kind of overflowing worship that defined David’s reign. He prioritized worship and made all the necessary investments to see that the God of Israel his God was glorified.
12 Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:)
13 It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord;
14 So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God (2 Chronicles 5:12-14)
There is actually an yet to be fulfilled prophecy by Amos about an end of the age David-style revival.
16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things (Acts 15:16-17, Amos 9:11-12)
This prophecy is applicable to Christians. We are the Israel of God according to Paul (Galatians 6:14-16). Through the redeeming work of our Saviour we are now fully part of God’s family. Gentiles and Jews can only be saved by faith in Jesus Christ.
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ….
18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God (Ephesians 2:12-13, 2:18-19).
Brother Uche Nwosu encountered the Lord Jesus Christ in 1996. Along with his wife of blessed memory, Mma, he began full time ministry in 2002. They coauthored A Divine Portrait and Tongues Of Christ, in addition to several gospel songs, hymns, and psalms. Their outreach ministry has greatly impacted the South Bay of Los Angeles.