1 Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah.

2 And he did that which was right in the sight of Yahweh, according to all that David his father had done.

3 He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of Yahweh, and repaired them.

(not necessarily the first month of his reign, but the first month of the first complete year, because this was the first month of the year-Abib, the month in which the Passover was supposed to be kept, although actually it was kept a month later on this occasion).*

4 And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street,

5 And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of Yahweh God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.

6 For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of Yahweh our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of Yahweh, and turned their backs.

7 Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel.

8 Wherefore the wrath of Yahweh was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes.

9 For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this.

In chapter 28 of 2nd Chronicles, the previous chapter, we have the record of a great multitude, verse 5, a great multitude from Judah being carried captive to Damascus. In verse 6, a hundred and twenty thousand were slain in Judah. And in verse 17, Edom also carried away captives. This was because of the wickedness of the land under Hezekiah's father.*

10 Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with Yahweh Elohim of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us.

...he refers to the fierce wrath of God upon them, which he learned from the preaching of the prophets, Micah and Isaiah, and also from the circumstances in which Judah was, when he came to the throne, under tribute to Assyria.*

11 My sons, be not now negligent: for Yahweh hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense. 

The priests and the Levites sanctify themselves in preparation for the work

12 Then the Levites arose, Mahath the son of Amasai, and Joel the son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites: and of the sons of Merari, Kish the son of Abdi, and Azariah the son of Jehalelel: and of the Gershonites; Joah the son of Zimmah, and Eden the son of Joah:

Cleansing the House of Yahweh

Faithful Levites from Kohath, Merari and Gershon came to help with the cleansing of the temple, but the three families of the singers also responded with alacrity to the call of the king (2 Chronicles 29: 13,14). Yet again, however, it was the House of Asaph who were first to be mentioned in this catalogue of temple musicians.

In eight days the courts were cleansed up to the porch, but it took another eight days to cleanse the sanctuary itself. The priests brought out the uncleanness they found there, and gave it to the Levites, who carried it abroad unto the brook Kidron.

The singers had the delicate fingers of those who played the musical instruments of God; yet here they were, hands covered in dust and grime, with bruised thumbs and broken nails, lugging the rubble of apostasy out of the temple.

What were a few cuts and scratches compared with the excitement and joy of cleansing the sanctuary, with all that it promised? Such a spirit redounded to the credit of the singers, but none more so than the House of Asaph who led them all in this inspiring response of cooperation with the king. In sixteen days, house, altar and vessels were all sanctified.

Seven bullocks, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven goats were sacrificed as a special sin offering, to make atonement for both the kingdom and the sanctuary. This atoning sacrifice, however, was made at the express instruction of the king, for both Judah and Israel, 13 as Hezekiah laid the foundation for a reformation which he hoped would touch the entire nation.

When the sacrifice was ended, the congregation were assembled for a glorious day of song and praise. There was something deeply appropriate about this order, for only those who have known the blessing of forgiveness through atonement can truly sing God's praise with fullness of heart.

Bro Roger Lewis - The House of Asaph Ch 7

13 And of the sons of Elizaphan; Shimri, and Jeiel: and of the sons of Asaph; Zechariah, and Mattaniah:

14 And of the sons of Heman; Jehiel, and Shimei: and of the sons of Jeduthun; Shemaiah, and Uzziel.

15 And they gathered their brethren, and sanctified themselves, and came, according to the commandment of the king, by the words of Yahweh, to cleanse the house of Yahweh.

16 And the priests went into the inner part of the house of Yahweh, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of Yahweh into the court of the house of Yahweh. And the Levites took it, to carry it out abroad into the brook Kidron.

They cleaned the temple-cleansed it of all the corruption and abomination-the courts and all the vessels in sixteen days.*

17 Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify, and on the eighth day of the month came they to the porch of Yahweh: so they sanctified the house of Yahweh in eight days; and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end.

18 Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, We have cleansed all the house of Yahweh, and the altar of burnt offering, with all the vessels thereof, and the shewbread table, with all the vessels thereof.

19 Moreover all the vessels, which king Ahaz in his reign did cast away in his transgression, have we prepared and sanctified, and, behold, they are before the altar of Yahweh.

20 Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of Yahweh.

21 And they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven he goats, for a sin offering for the kingdom, and for the sanctuary, and for Judah. And he commanded the priests the sons of Aaron to offer them on the altar of Yahweh.

22 So they killed the bullocks, and the priests received the blood, and sprinkled it on the altar: likewise, when they had killed the rams, they sprinkled the blood upon the altar: they killed also the lambs, and they sprinkled the blood upon the altar.

23 And they brought forth the he goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them:

They offered a great sin offering for all Israel, both Israel and Judah. We notice in verse 24 that all Israel is emphasized twice. It is clear all through the record that Hezekiah intended, as far as possible, to take in all those of the northern kingdom that he can, to make an offering for them all before God.

This sin offering consisted of seven bullocks, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven he goats. And then after this preliminary and necessary offering for sin, verses 25-26, he set the singers and the players in order.*

24 And the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel: for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel.

25 And he set the Levites in the house of Yahweh with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of Yahweh by his prophets.

25 And he set the Levites in the house of Yahweh with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of Yahweh by his prophets.

The prophet was also called a seer (both terms are sometimes used in the same sentence-Isaiah 30:10; 2 Chron. 29:25). The term "seer" (chozeh, from the verb to see) expressed the fact that a man whose eyes God opened saw things unknown to normal human faculty (Num. 24:3-4).

The term prophet (nabah) from the Hebrew verb to flow forth, intimated that a man so illuminated could not repress the ideas afflating him, as in the case of the men in the house of Cornelius, upon whom the Holy Spirit having been poured out, all heard them speak with tongues (Acts 10:45-46).

...The popular idea that the prophets began with Isaiah and ended with Malachi is due to the mere arrangement of those prophetic books that have been preserved. The names of the prophets between Isaiah and Malachi represent but the merest fraction of the prophets that arose-a very important fraction to us, certainly-the most important that could be imagined; for without the books of these prophets, our knowledge of the mind of God as expressed through the prophets would be scanty to the famine point.

Ministry of the prophets Ch 2

26 And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.

27 And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of Yahweh began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel.

28 And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.

28 And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.

Reviving the offering of daily praise

The spirit of reformation was in the air, when the congregation assembled on this spring morn to offer their solemn sacrifice. The king intended this day to be a re-enactment of Solomon's celebration, as if the temple was being dedicated afresh; and, enthused by Hezekiah's dynamic spirit, the nation assembled excitedly for this day of dedication.

The ark was in its appointed place, the priests with their trumpets stood in array, and the singers, led by the House of Asaph, were ready to lead the hymn of praise. 14 The musical instruments they held were the same ones seen in Solomon's day, for they were the originals, fashioned by David under inspiration.

Hezekiah ordered the morning tamiyd to be offered, thereby reinstating the temple service of ancient times. 15 But with the tamiyd came also the recommencement of the daily song of praise. There could have been no stronger endorsement of their ancient worship than for the assembly to hear the song of the service, sung anew by the House of Asaph, who were its finest exponents and strongest guardians.

Reformation it might be, but its intention was to take the nation back to the purity of the past, and not to a corruption of it. A murmur passed round the congregation as the song of Yahweh began, for to hear these voices and these instruments was to be reconnected with their past.

How could the House of Asaph be immediately ready to sing at an event which was organised in just two weeks? 16 How was it that they could play their instruments perfectly and sing their words flawlessly, the moment Hezekiah asked them? How were they able to sustain their song for as long as it took the daily lamb to be consumed?

The only possible explanation lies in the fact that, during times of apostasy, they had never ceased to practise. From the decline of Joash and onwards, they had more than once been interrupted in their worship; and in the evil reign of Ahaz they were finally barred from the temple area; but even then they trained in secret.

Determined never to forfeit their faith, they gave themselves to practice, so that, when asked, they could immediately sing their song without hesitation and without mistake. For this family, every day's practice was still counted as an offering to God.

More than once, the House of Asaph had stirred the hearts of those who heard them. They would do so again on this day of Hezekiah's reformation, for both king and people were so moved by their song that they were prostrated to the ground in reverence and humility. 17

The voices of a family forever devoted to the majesty of God thrilled and inspired their hearers with awe and emotion; and, seeking to prolong the moment, they earnestly requested the singers to offer further praise in the words of David and Asaph. 18

14 Since Hezekiah's reform was intended to restore Solomon's standard, when the House of Asaph led the singing (2 Chronicles 5:12), and given that their family were the first of the singers to respond to Hezekiah's call (29:13), there is every reason to believe that they assumed their primacy on this day also. The record provides evidence in support of this (verse 30)!

15 The phrase "And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering" (2 Chronicles 29:27) does not refer to the offerings previously mentioned (verse 21), which were all sin offerings. Rather, the use of the definite article ha-olah. indicates the one burnt offering above all others - the daily burnt, or continual, before which the House of Asaph had always sung.

16 The implication is that Hezekiah acted immediately on assuming office (2 Chronicles 29:3,17,20,36).

17 Cp. Rotherham: "And, when the offering was complete, the king knelt down and all who were present with him, and bowed themselves in prostration" (2 Chronicles 29:29).

18 This refers either to the twelve Asaphite psalms, or, with greater likelihood, to Asaph's role as Chief Musician in collecting and organising all the hymnal material for the temple worship.

Bro Roger Lewis - The House of Asaph Ch 7

29 And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped.


30 Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto Yahweh with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.

They re-establish the regular system of offering and worship. All the singers sang together, and the priests and the king and the officers and the people worshipped God. *

30 Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto Yahweh with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.

Collaborating on the psalter of Israel

This dividing of the courses, however, was but the culmination of David's work with Asaph. Throughout this thirty years, their mutual presence in Jerusalem had enabled their further cooperation on the matters of the temple worship. It was a work which would bring marvellous blessings for the whole nation, but the experience would first touch the two men themselves.

Asaph's love for the songs of Zion made him an ideal candidate to labour together with the sweet psalmist of Israel. Their firm friendship was based on the highest of spiritual objectives, and there was much to be accomplished in this close collaboration.

The work of the priests was set by the law of Moses, and, although the temple would require their activities on a grander scale, the scope of their labours was already known. The porters likewise had guarded the thresholds from tabernacle days, and their responsibilities, although enlarged, remained unchanged.

But for the singers there were no instructions in the law of Moses. The entire system of temple praise was altogether new, and needed to be codified; and it was this work that David and Asaph gave their attention to.

Spiritual songs needed to be written for the temple worship, and tunes composed to accompany them. Sanctuary instruments needed to be crafted for special use in the temple service, and made according to a divine pattern. 34

A psalter needed to be prepared and organised into its component parts. Psalms needed to be arranged for daily, weekly and annual use, for celebration at the feasts of Yahweh, and to offer on other special occasions.

Choirs needed to be allocated their parts, and times set down for both their practice and their performance. During the whole of this vast and illustrious enterprise, Asaph stood at the king's side as his counsellor and confidant in the matters of the music. These two, then, David and Asaph, would be forever linked as the benchmark of all that was best in the excellence of song and praise to worship God. 35

It was understandable, then, that primacy belonged to the house of Asaph, because the work of their father in conjunction with David meant that this family knew, better than any other, what the psalter of Israel was for and what the songs of the book were intended to teach.

The spirit of guardianship was instilled early in this household, as their father imbued within them a sense of keeping safe the nation's songs of worship. When David died, his legacy of singers instructed in the songs of Yahweh was already safely enshrined in this family.

Other choirs would certainly contribute, as all the singers sang with fervent hearts b the order of their courses. But the brightest flame burned in the hearts of the sons of Asaph. They had been set alight by their father, and it was their shining example which would lead the nation in the next great moment of their history.

34 The pattern given to David by the Spirit concerned not only the building and the courses but also the vessels and instruments of the temple (1 Chronicles 28:11-14). There is every reason to suppose that David's "instruments of music" were also made under divine inspiration (23:5; 2 Chronicles 7:6; 29:26,27; Nehemiah 12:36).

35 That there was a special relationship between David and Asaph, to cooperate on the planning and ordering of the musical arrangements for temple worship, is suggested in several key references (1 Chronicles 16:4,5,7,37; 25:6; 2 Chronicles 29:30; Nehemiah 12:46). There are no passages suggesting any such cooperation between David and Jeduthun or David and Heman. Among the singers, Asaph held a unique relationship with David in this respect.

Bro Roger Lewis - The House of Asaph Ch 3

31 Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto Yahweh, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of Yahweh. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings.

32 And the number of the burnt offerings, which the congregation brought, was threescore and ten bullocks, an hundred rams, and two hundred lambs: all these were for a burnt offering to Yahweh.

33 And the consecrated things were six hundred oxen and three thousand sheep.

34 But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings: wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them, till the work was ended, and until the other priests had sanctified themselves: for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests.

The priests had been delinquent in preparing for this reformation of Hezekiah.*

*Bro Growcott - Hezekiah

35 And also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings, and the drink offerings for every burnt offering. So the service of the house of Yahweh was set in order.

36 And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly.