We live in a day of high profile worship leaders and song writers – but, amazingly, we actually know the names of some of the worship leaders from back in the reign of King David!
In 1 Chron’ 15 v 17 – 22 several key people are mentioned – all gifted and no doubt practised and skilled. All invested their talents to develop the corporate worship of the nation of Israel. I find their names fascinating… perhaps giving us some pointers as to the qualities we should develop as worship leaders or worshippers!
HEMAN (v17) means “one who is faithful”. To lead well requires a certain amount of endurance, determination and consistency on our part. Heman became that sort of leader. It would seem he had not had an easy life – in Psalm 88 we find him overwhelmed, feeling low, without strength or friends – and yet he faithfully and honestly cries out to God for salvation. God greatly values faithfulness! What matters is not whether we are overwhelmed or not, but where we go when we are!!
ETHAN (v17) is derived from the Hebrew words for “permanence and strength”. No one is strong in themselves, but how wonderful to be a person known for consistency, strength and a determination to worship. It is perhaps easy to be switched on for a big occasion, or, on the other hand, to be overwhelmed by our current feelings or circumstances. Our Father God is surely worthy of our taking up a more robust, determined, attitude of giving “permanent praise!”
KENANIAH (v22) is not a name found in baby name books today – but what a great meaning, “One established by Jehovah” If we serve in order to establish ourselves then we are, and always will be, insecure. Is our sense of being firmly established always dependent on what people say? or how the last event went? It is great to know that we are called by God to worship – there is no need to perform for HE already loves us unconditionally. He has established us. Our need for constant affirmation from others will grow weaker the more we bask in his love and enjoy serving without the need for applause.
ASAPH (v17) means “one who gathers together and removes reproach”. As we gather to worship our congregation will always include folk wrestling with big issues, overwhelmed with sorrows, and with failures on their minds. Ethan drew people together to our God, who replaces those things with a sense of acceptance, faith, forgiveness and adoption. How wonderful to lead people into an awareness of the person, presence and love of God on a Sunday! Much as I appreciate the virtuoso worship, or musical, “performer”, truly gifted worship leading draws people together, reminds us whose we are, who He is,e is,HH and focuses us wonderfully on the object of our worship.
(Incidentally not only did Asaph write some psalms, he also grew in his gifting and developed, so that he is later described as a seer (2Chron 29v30) – A reminder that worship is intimately connected to the presence of God and the flow of his spirit and gifts …)
A last thought – A hundred and twenty-eight singing descendants of Asaph return from exile with Ezra the reformer (Ezra 2:41), and perform during the dedication of the new temple’s foundation (Ezra 3:10). I wonder what values we will pass on our children and grand -children?