The priests come forth so that the rightful Inhabitant can take up residence there (verse 1111When the priests came forth from the holy place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without regard to divisions),). The importance of the case justifies not yet taking into account David’s institutions with regard to divisions (1Chr 24:3-193David, with Zadok of the sons of Eleazar and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, divided them according to their offices for their ministry.4Since more chief men were found from the descendants of Eleazar than the descendants of Ithamar, they divided them thus: [there were] sixteen heads of fathers’ households of the descendants of Eleazar and eight of the descendants of Ithamar, according to their fathers’ households.5Thus 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.6Shemaiah, 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.7Now the first lot came out for Jehoiarib, the second for Jedaiah,8the third for Harim, the fourth for Seorim,9the fifth for Malchijah, the sixth for Mijamin,10the seventh for Hakkoz, the eighth for Abijah,11the ninth for Jeshua, the tenth for Shecaniah,12the eleventh for Eliashib, the twelfth for Jakim,13the thirteenth for Huppah, the fourteenth for Jeshebeab,14the fifteenth for Bilgah, the sixteenth for Immer,15the seventeenth for Hezir, the eighteenth for Happizzez,16the nineteenth for Pethahiah, the twentieth for Jehezkel,17the twenty-first for Jachin, the twenty-second for Gamul,18the twenty-third for Delaiah, the twenty-fourth for Maaziah.19These 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.). At this event, all priests from all divisions must be present. They all have to be eyewitnesses to the fact that the LORD takes His residence in the temple. They are able to do so because they have all sanctified themselves. We can only see the glory of the Lord when we are committed to Him.
The Levites and the priests stand on the east side of the altar (verse 1212and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and kinsmen, clothed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps and lyres, standing east of the altar, and with them one hundred and twenty priests blowing trumpets). The east side is the side where the sun rises. It is the side where the door of the tabernacle is, the closest to the people. When the carriers of the Levites have done their service, now the singers come forward. When the Lord Jesus has been given the central place in our lives, we become singers. This also applies to the local church. If the Lord Jesus is central there, this will be reflected in the hymn of praise.
The singers are standing at the altar. The names “Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun” mean successively “one who gathers”, “faithful” and “choir of praise”. This is reminiscent of the church gathering around the altar (a picture of the Lord’s Table) to faithfully praise the Lord as a choir of praise. The church does this as “sons” of God and “kinsmen” of each other and of the Lord Jesus. The “fine linen” indicates that they are made pleasant in the Beloved (Eph 1:66to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.).
Besides the Levites there are also priests. The number of priests is one hundred and twenty. This number reminds of the one hundred and twenty disciples who are in the upper room after the ascension of the Lord Jesus (Acts 1:1515At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said,), to wait there for the “promise of the Father” (Acts 1:44Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” [He said], “you heard of from Me;), which is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The priests blow “in unison” on the trumpets and “in unison” make their voices heard (verse 1313in unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and to glorify the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and when they praised the LORD [saying], “[He] indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting,” then the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud,). We also see this unanimity in Acts 2. After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the church there is also unanimous (cf. Rom 15:5-65Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,6so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.). They do everything together (Acts 2:44,4644And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,).
In their praise we hear the reference to the kingdom of peace. It is a song of praise that will never cease: “His lovingkindness is everlasting.” Then the house of the LORD is filled with the glory of the LORD. Not during sacrifice, but during singing about His lovingkindness, the answer comes from heaven in the form of the cloud. God’s lovingkindness is seen in His glory, of which the cloud is the expression. God is enthroned upon the praises of His people (Psa 22:3b3Yet You are holy,
O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
The cloud filling the house here led the people out of Egypt (Exo 13:21-2221The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.22He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.) and through the wilderness (Exo 40:36-3836Throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out;37but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day when it was taken up.38For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.). We also see this cloud of God’s glory with the Lord Jesus on the mountain of glorification (Mt 17:55While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”), at the erection of the tabernacle (Exo 40:34-3534Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.35Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.), after the ordination of the priests (Lev 9:2323Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people.), at the origination of the church (Acts 1:99And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.; 2:22And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.) and at the temple of Ezekiel (Eze 43:44And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the east.). At the rebuilding of the temple by Zerubbabel after the return from exile we do not see this cloud of glory.
The priests cannot stand in the presence of God to serve (verse 1414so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.). They are overwhelmed by the presence of God’s glory in the temple. That is the situation in the Old Testament. For us it is a great privilege to behold the glory of the Lord with an uncovered face (2Cor 3:1818But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.). Under grace we are not driven out of the presence of God, but may we enter it and see the glory of the Lord Jesus there (Jn 17:2424Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.). In a way, we too cannot remain standing when we see the Lamb That has been slain standing “as if slain” (Rev 5:6,126And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.12saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”): “And the elders fell down and worshiped” (Rev 5:1414And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.). Where He is, man and his service disappear.