In his book Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, Eugene Peterson recounts the story of the fourth-century church father Gregory of Nyssa whose brother Basil had arranged for him to be made bishop of Cappadocia. “Gregory objected,” Peterson writes. “He didn’t want to be stuck in such an out-of-the-way place. His brother told him he didn’t want Gregory to obtain distinction from his church but to confer distinction upon it.” Finding our place in God’s building project can be a challenge because we do not always share God’s view of what our assignment should be.
David’s concern as he neared the end of his reign involved much more than gathering materials for the construction of the temple. He also took steps to organize temple worship and hand the reigns of leadership over to his son. First Chronicles 23 focuses on the Levites who were organized by family. Although technically descended from Levi, Aaron’s sons were distinguished from the rest of the Levites because of the nature of the ministry assigned to them (v. 13). The nature of Levitical ministry changed with the construction of the temple. Instead of having the responsibility for the transport of the tabernacle, they assisted the priests in their duties (v. 28).
These arrangements reflect both a division of labor and a difference in rank. The Levites role was to serve the priests. They could not do what the priests could do, and the priests relied upon the Levites to fulfill their important task. Many of the tasks assigned to the Levites must have seemed mundane: putting the showbread on the table; baking, mixing, and measuring for the grain offerings; and often standing in place. One of the duties of the Levites was to thank and praise the Lord morning and evening.