Here we see that the priests are divided by David, but that whoever performs the service is determined by lot. This means that God designates and determines who does service and not David (Lk 1:8-98Now it happened [that] while he was performing his priestly service before God in the [appointed] order of his division,9according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.). Because of the death of two of the four sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu (Lk 10:1-21Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come.2And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.), there are two remaining lines along which the priesthood is divided.
Eleazar was appointed by God to be the high priest, but the line of Ithamar got it. After Solomon the generation of Ithamar disappears. Zadok from the line of Eleazar is the priest according to God’s thoughts. Of the twenty-four divisions that David sets up, sixteen go to Eleazar and eight to the descendants of Ithamar.
Everyone is a priest of his own division. This teaches us that everyone is a worshipper in his own way, each has his own feelings. Each of the twenty-four is different. Yet we are never a single priest, we are one of the twenty-four. If we do priestly service together during worship, worship is most rewarding when we see that all brothers act as one and not each individually acts on his own, without concerning about others. It is about together “with all the saints” (Eph 3:1818may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,).
The believer who does priestly service with others is part of the whole company of priests, while still having his own place. Small communities of Christians have the advantage that every brother has the opportunity to express himself. No one will dominate either. In large meetings the danger of inactivity of the majority is obvious.
Aaron had four sons (verse 11Now the divisions of the descendants of Aaron [were these]: the sons of Aaron [were] Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.; Exo 6:2222The sons of Uzziel: Mishael and Elzaphan and Sithri.), all four of whom went out of Egypt with the people. They all four seemed to be priests, yet there was a distinction between two who were ‘spiritual’ priests and the other two who were ‘religious’ priests. This was reflected in the way they approached God. Two of them brought strange fire to the altar that the LORD had not commanded them. He had to punish this with death (verse 22But Nadab and Abihu died before their father and had no sons. So Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests.; Lev 10:1-21Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.2And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.).
The religion of the flesh, to approach God in its own way and according to its own insight, cannot exist before God. He must judge that. Their status as priest and the fact that they are descendants of such an excellent man in Israel as Aaron, did not prevent them from being punished by God’s judgment. This kind of priesthood ceases to exist because we read that they had no sons. The fleshly mind of the church in Corinth also brought with it judgment from God (1Cor 3:11And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.; 11:27-3427Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.28But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.29For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.30For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.31But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.32But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.33So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.34If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.).
David, the king, divides together with Zadok and Ithamar, the priests – together they are a picture of the Lord Jesus as the King-Priest –the work of the priests (verse 33David, with Zadok of the sons of Eleazar and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, divided them according to their offices for their ministry.). Only the Lord Jesus indicates to whom priests are. These are all those who are connected with Him by faith in Him. He also indicates how and when they should perform their service.
The division of the priestly divisions is done by throwing the lot (verse 55Thus they were divided by lot, the one as the other; for they were officers of the sanctuary and officers of God, both from the descendants of Eleazar and the descendants of Ithamar.). The throwing of the lot to know the will of the LORD is characteristic of the Old Testament. The lot is also used in dividing the land (Jos 18:8-108Then the men arose and went, and Joshua commanded those who went to describe the land, saying, “Go and walk through the land and describe it, and return to me; then I will cast lots for you here before the LORD in Shiloh.”9So the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities in seven divisions in a book; and they came to Joshua to the camp at Shiloh.10And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD, and there Joshua divided the land to the sons of Israel according to their divisions.). In the New Testament there is one more reference to the throwing of the lot, and that is to know who the Lord designates as an apostle instead of Judas (Acts 1:2626And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.). In Acts 2 the outpouring of the Holy Spirit takes place (Acts 2:1-41When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.2And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.). From that moment on, there is no longer any question of the lot. The Lord makes clear through the Spirit what He wants, as He has made His will known in His Word.
Shemaiah records the divisions so that it can be consulted later (verse 66Shemaiah, the son of Nethanel the scribe, from the Levites, recorded them in the presence of the king, the princes, Zadok the priest, Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, and the heads of the fathers’ [households] of the priests and of the Levites; one father’s household taken for Eleazar and one taken for Ithamar.). In the way in which this happens, we see, in picture, again the King-Priest: the Lord Jesus has authority and is the true High Priest. Before His face, in His presence, under His watchful eye, everything takes place. As Shemaiah records everything for later consultation, we have the Word of God in which is recorded how the service can be done ‘in order’, as God wills and through His Spirit will lead.
Zacharias, the father of John the baptist, belongs to the eighth priest division, that of Abiah (verse 1010the seventh for Hakkoz, the eighth for Abijah,), for he is “of the division of Abiah” (Lk 1:55In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.). The number eight indicates a new order of things. This is the case with the announcement of the birth of John.
Aaron (verse 1919These were their offices for their ministry when [they] came in to the house of the LORD according to the ordinance [given] to them through Aaron their father, just as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him.) is a type of the Lord Jesus as the High Priest. Today every priest is subject to Him.