1 CHRONICLES 15
15 And the Bnei HaLevi'im bore the Aron HaElohim upon their shoulders with the motot (poles) thereon, as Moshe commanded according to the Devar Hashem.
16 And Dovid spoke to the Sarei HaLevi'im to appoint their brethren to be the meshorerim (singers) with instruments of music, nevalim (lyres) and kinnorot (harps) and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with simchah.
17 So the Levi'im appointed Heman Ben Yoel; and of his brethren, Asaph Ben Berechyahu; and of the Bnei Merari their brethren, Eitan Ben Kushayahu;
David had now realised the importance of having the Levites superintend the lifting of the ark. Even the Kohathites, appointed to bear it upon its staves, were not permitted to touch the ark itself, on pain of death. 13 To have permitted its carriage on a cart, placed within reach of Uzza's hand, was inexcusable. 14 The tragic end of this first journey had badly shaken the king, for he had learned that the spirit of his own enthusiasm and the songs of his own endeavour were not sufficient to supersede God's righteous and holy requirements.
God will not accept our songs of worship unless they conform to His standards and honour His principles. David had sung with all his might, and yet it was unacceptable in the throne room of heaven. He would never forget this lesson. The breach of Uzza had taught him forever that God will only accept the sacrifice of praise that is offered in complete harmony with His will. The king's carefulness in requesting that the sons of Kohath bear the ark was matched therefore by a similar appeal that the Levites might also take charge of the music of worship that should accompany it.
The Levites prepared to make careful choice from among their ranks, for they too were acutely aware that their earlier praises had been rejected. After due reflection, they nominated three men of exceptional musical skill, who could lead the singers in lifting up the voice with joy. Their selection joined the three great branches of the tribe into this work of leading the singers.
Heman the son of Joel was of the family of Kohath; Asaph the son of Berechiah was of the family of Gershom; and Ethan the son of Kushaiah was of the family of Merari. 15 The entire priestly tribe would be involved in this most solemn of matters: the communal incensing of praise unto God. Those chosen were not only gifted with musical ability, but also had voices that could lead the choirs in praise.
There was great thought behind the names proposed. Both their love of music and their spiritual passion suited them for the task, and David accepted these appointments without question. How little did he know, however, that circumstances were about to bring him into the closest of contact with a man who shared his spirit, and who would ever afterwards be associated with him in the matter of the nation's praise. In that inscrutable way which is the hallmark of all God's dealings with His servants, He fashioned the blessings of the future from the burdens of the present.
Bro Roger Lewis - The House of Asaph
19 So the singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were appointed to sound with cymbals of brass;
20 And Zechariah, and Aziel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Unni, and Eliab, and Maaseiah, and Benaiah, with psalteries on Alamoth;
21 And Mattithiah, and Elipheleh, and Mikneiah, and Obededom, and Jeiel, and Azaziah, with harps on the Sheminith to excel.
22 And Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song: he instructed about the song, because he was skilful.
The great choral procession
Here then was the great assembly which would accompany the ark, as king and nation endeavoured for the second time to bring it to Zion. The musicians could not be placed in the normal arrangement of choir and orchestra, singers and instruments, because they were to be in motion rather than stationary.
Instead, they were organised into a processional line, with the ark in their midst, in an echo of the ancient marching order of the tribes as they travelled through the wilderness with the ark among them in an earlier time. As then, the ark would be placed in the midst, borne by the Kohathites, and with David, a man of Judah at the head. 16
First came the leading singers with their cymbals, Heman, Asaph and Jeduthun, who marked the time for all to follow. 17 Then came the psalteries leading the female choir, followed by the harps leading the male choir, whether singing in response or in unison. Before the ark were two porters, whose presence as sanctuary guardians indicated the degree of solemn care which the occasion deserved. Their place before the ark was matched by two other porters as their counterparts, who marched behind it with the same spirit.
Seven priests with silver trumpets also marched in front of the ark, their trumpet blasts calling on God to witness that which they did before Him on this solemn day. The Levite with special responsibility to watch over the carriage of the ark by the Kohathites was also in attendance. But it was the king himself, clad in the garments of priesthood, 18 who inspired the procession, as in an elation of joy he danced before the ark, 19 in an attitude of deep respect and reverent praise. 20
17 Perhaps Heman of Kohath was mentioned first (1 Chronicles 6:33; 15:17,19) because of David's concern for the Kohathites specially to fulfil their role according to the law (Numbers 10:21). If so,his leadership was short-lived, for by the end of this day, Asaph was appointed to lead the song of thanks before the ark, a primacy that the House of Asaph would never relinquish thereafter.
18 1 Chronicles 15:27.
19 2 Samuel 6:14.
20 That he went before the ark is clear (2 Samuel 6:14,16,17,21). But to go in front of the ark, rather than behind it, was not a mark of pride, but the signal of respect. He went before, as one would herald a king (1 Samuel 8:11; 2 Samuel 15:1; 1 Kings 1:5; 18:46).
28 Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of Yahweh with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps.
Among the group who accompanied this second procession was Chenaniah, whose special task was to ensure that the ark was borne correctly. Given the tragedy of Uzza, both the king and the priests were anxious that the ark be properly conveyed, and this chief Levite was charged with its supervision as the captain of its carriage. 21
He walked with his eye upon the ark as the journey began. His role lay in giving guidance on how to shoulder the staves, how to hold the ark aloft and keep it upright, and how to walk in unison without stumbling. Nothing was left to chance on this day; but, as the service began, and his brethren stooped to shoulder the ark, his heart stood still with anxiety that God would approve of their arrangements.
A hush fell over the whole assembly as the nation waited to see whether they would incur the divine wrath again, or not. The men of Kohath stood upright, gripped the staves, and stepped forward, walking with full awareness of the precious burden that they bore.
After six paces they stopped. All was well, and Chenaniah breathed a sigh of relief. A special offering was made before they took even one more step, and then the song began again, as this time the ark was triumphantly brought into the city of David, with shouting and rejoicings, where further offerings were made to celebrate that God had
"helped the Levites that bare the ark". 22
21 The phrase "master of the song" (1 Chronicles 15:27) is better rendered "captain of the carriage". The word massa is never translated "song" apart from this one passage. Its standard meaning is 'burden', and it is the very word used concerning the responsibility of Kohath to bear the burden of the tabernacle furniture, including the ark (Numbers 4:15). RV margin, "the carrying of the ark".
22 It would appear that certain offerings were offered at the start of this journey (2 Samuel 6:13), but others were offered at its end (1 Chronicles 15:26).