The gatekeepers (verse 1717Now the gatekeepers [were] Shallum and Akkub and Talmon and Ahiman and their relatives (Shallum the chief) must ensure that nothing enters God’s house that does not belong there. It is the task of every believer with regard to the present temple, the church of God, to watch over it (cf. Mk 13:3434[It is] like a man away on a journey, [who] upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, [assigning] to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert.). For example, it means paying attention to what is taught, what gospel is brought, how is worshiped. The standard of assessment is that “all things” are “done for edification” (1Cor 14:26b26What is [the outcome] then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.).
Although all believers have the task of ensuring that what happens in the church is in accordance with God’s will, this task rests especially on the shoulders of elders or overseers. Besides the fact that the function of gatekeeper is important for the church, the vigilance of the gatekeeper is also important for our body, which is also a temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6:1919Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?). We have to watch what enters our hearts through our eyes and ears.
“The king’s gate” (verse 1818[being stationed] until now at the king’s gate to the east). These [were] the gatekeepers for the camp of the sons of Levi.; 2Kgs 16:1818The covered way for the sabbath which they had built in the house, and the outer entry of the king, he removed from the house of the LORD because of the king of Assyria.) is the gate through which the king goes from his palace to the temple. This gate will always have been closed and only opened when the king goes through it to the temple and from the temple back to his palace (Eze 44:2-32The LORD said to me, “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the LORD God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut.3As for the prince, he shall sit in it as prince to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by way of the porch of the gate and shall go out by the same way.”). Although there is no king in Israel when the remnant has returned to Israel, this gate is still honored, probably in the hope that sooner or later the scepter will return to David’s house.
Can what is said of Pinehas also be said of us? “The LORD was with him” (verse 2020Phinehas the son of Eleazar was ruler over them previously, [and] the LORD was with him.). This can be said of him because he watched over the honor of the LORD and stood up for it at the moment His honor was at stake (Num 25:6-156Then behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting.7When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the congregation and took a spear in his hand,8and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman, through the body. So the plague on the sons of Israel was checked.9Those who died by the plague were 24,000.10Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,11“Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy.12Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give him My covenant of peace;13and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel.’”14Now the name of the slain man of Israel who was slain with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, a leader of a father’s household among the Simeonites.15The name of the Midianite woman who was slain was Cozbi the daughter of Zur, who was head of the people of a father’s household in Midian.).
Something is said here about Samuel that we don’t read of him anywhere else (verse 2222All these who were chosen to be gatekeepers at the thresholds were 212. These were enrolled by genealogy in their villages, whom David and Samuel the seer appointed in their office of trust.). Here it appears that he not only as a prophet spoke the Word of God to the conscience of the people, but also contributed to the service in the house of God. After all, he also grew up in the immediate vicinity of the tabernacle and became completely familiar with the service in it. It is not a forgotten aspect of his service, but the Holy Spirit has thought it good to mention it only here. It reminds us that the service in the house of God must be fully in accordance with the Word of God.
Those who serve in the house of God also spend the night close to this house (verse 2727They spent the night around the house of God, because the watch was committed to them; and they [were] in charge of opening [it] morning by morning.). This allows them to start their service as soon as they wake up. It is good for ministers to be close to their work, to the house of God, and to devote themselves fully to it. For us it means that we are constantly aware that we are in God’s house and that our whole daily life takes place there, while it is night in the world around us.
There is diversity and unity in the service of the Levites (verses 28-3228Now some of them had charge of the utensils of service, for they counted them when they brought them in and when they took them out.29Some of them also were appointed over the furniture and over all the utensils of the sanctuary and over the fine flour and the wine and the oil and the frankincense and the spices.30Some of the sons of the priests prepared the mixing of the spices.31Mattithiah, one of the Levites, who was the firstborn of Shallum the Korahite, had the responsibility over the things which were baked in pans.32Some of their relatives of the sons of the Kohathites [were] over the showbread to prepare it every sabbath.). We can learn from this that also in the church each has his or her own task to perform and that this task happens at the same time in unity with others.
The singers are never free (verse 3333Now these are the singers, heads of fathers’ [households] of the Levites, [who lived] in the chambers [of the temple] free [from other service]; for they were engaged in their work day and night.). They are not with, but in the chambers and constantly praise God (“day and night”), as He, Who always does good, is due. Here the temple is a picture of heaven, of what is happening there (Rev 4:88And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy [is] the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”). “How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You” (Psa 84:44How blessed are those who dwell in Your house!
They are ever praising You. Selah.
; Heb 13:1515Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.).