Sons of Korah

Psalm 84  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
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There is something peculiarly sweet in the songs of the sons of Korah, and few more precious than Psalm 84. If these shadows of heavenly things were so amiable-the earthly tabernacles of Jehovah: if these Levites so longed, yea, even fainted, for those earthly courts of the Lord, which were temporal- a worldly sanctuary, now vanished away; do we so long after the deep realities of the sanctuary of His presence, where two or three are gathered in His name?
But who are these sons of Korah? Many of our readers will say, "Sons of Korah; why, did not the sons of Korah go down alive into the pit, when the earth opened her mouth and swallowed those wicked men, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and all their wives and children?" Let us turn to the Scriptures and see. Here is the account of their rebellion against the Lord (Num. 16). How terrible is sin in the sight of the Lord! "Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins. So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side." Now mark, in the next clause, Korah is omitted. "And Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children." v. 27. Now read that awful description of the earth opening her mouth and swallowing them up: "And all the men that appertained unto Korah," the earth closed upon them. There is no statement that the sons of Korah went down with their father. No, the Scripture is clear on this point. "And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, what time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men: and they became a sign. Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not." Numb. 26:10, 1110And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, what time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men: and they became a sign. 11Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not. (Numbers 26:10‑11).
Yes, in the riches of sovereign grace, they were saved from going down alive into the pit. And this was not all. As part of the family of Kohath, they had given to them the cities of refuge, of which Hebron is named first (1 Chron. 6:54-6754Now these are their dwelling places throughout their castles in their coasts, of the sons of Aaron, of the families of the Kohathites: for theirs was the lot. 55And they gave them Hebron in the land of Judah, and the suburbs thereof round about it. 56But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh. 57And to the sons of Aaron they gave the cities of Judah, namely, Hebron, the city of refuge, and Libnah with her suburbs, and Jattir, and Eshtemoa, with their suburbs, 58And Hilen with her suburbs, Debir with her suburbs, 59And Ashan with her suburbs, and Beth-shemesh with her suburbs: 60And out of the tribe of Benjamin; Geba with her suburbs, and Alemeth with her suburbs, and Anathoth with her suburbs. All their cities throughout their families were thirteen cities. 61And unto the sons of Kohath, which were left of the family of that tribe, were cities given out of the half tribe, namely, out of the half tribe of Manasseh, by lot, ten cities. 62And to the sons of Gershom throughout their families out of the tribe of Issachar, and out of the tribe of Asher, and out of the tribe of Naphtali, and out of the tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, thirteen cities. 63Unto the sons of Merari were given by lot, throughout their families, out of the tribe of Reuben, and out of the tribe of Gad, and out of the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities. 64And the children of Israel gave to the Levites these cities with their suburbs. 65And they gave by lot out of the tribe of the children of Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon, and out of the tribe of the children of Benjamin, these cities, which are called by their names. 66And the residue of the families of the sons of Kohath had cities of their coasts out of the tribe of Ephraim. 67And they gave unto them, of the cities of refuge, Shechem in mount Ephraim with her suburbs; they gave also Gezer with her suburbs, (1 Chronicles 6:54‑67)). Oh, how our God delights in mercy!
Have you, beloved readers, been saved from the pit? Children of wrath, even as others, brought in sovereign grace to dwell in the heavenlies, not with Abraham, but in Christ. Oh, blest city of eternal refuge, Jerusalem on high! Can we not adore the riches of His grace?
Shall we trace this divine favor a little further? Saved from the lowest depths of the pit, these very sons of Korah "were over the work of the service, keepers of the gates of the tabernacle:... had the oversight of the gates of the house of the Loan... and were over the chambers and treasuries of the house of God." What a 'stewardship! "All the instruments of the sanctuary, and the fine flour, and the wine, and the oil, and the frankincense, an d the spices," and the meat offering, and "were over the showbread" (1 Chron. 9:19-3219And Shallum the son of Kore, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, and his brethren, of the house of his father, the Korahites, were over the work of the service, keepers of the gates of the tabernacle: and their fathers, being over the host of the Lord, were keepers of the entry. 20And Phinehas the son of Eleazar was the ruler over them in time past, and the Lord was with him. 21And Zechariah the son of Meshelemiah was porter of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 22All these which were chosen to be porters in the gates were two hundred and twelve. These were reckoned by their genealogy in their villages, whom David and Samuel the seer did ordain in their set office. 23So they and their children had the oversight of the gates of the house of the Lord, namely, the house of the tabernacle, by wards. 24In four quarters were the porters, toward the east, west, north, and south. 25And their brethren, which were in their villages, were to come after seven days from time to time with them. 26For these Levites, the four chief porters, were in their set office, and were over the chambers and treasuries of the house of God. 27And they lodged round about the house of God, because the charge was upon them, and the opening thereof every morning pertained to them. 28And certain of them had the charge of the ministering vessels, that they should bring them in and out by tale. 29Some of them also were appointed to oversee the vessels, and all the instruments of the sanctuary, and the fine flour, and the wine, and the oil, and the frankincense, and the spices. 30And some of the sons of the priests made the ointment of the spices. 31And Mattithiah, one of the Levites, who was the firstborn of Shallum the Korahite, had the set office over the things that were made in the pans. 32And other of their brethren, of the sons of the Kohathites, were over the showbread, to prepare it every sabbath. (1 Chronicles 9:19‑32)). What types of instruction to us! Saved from the lowest depths of hell, and brought to dwell in the eternal refuge of the presence of God by the blood of Jesus. And now what a stewardship, all the riches of the glories of Christ committed to us!
Yes, in the frankincense, and the spices, and the things made in the pans—types of the Person of Christ in all His adorable perfection-our portion. Once children of the pit. Is Christ thus precious to you? And does not all this tell out the varied ministries of the redeemed children of God? All these precious treasures of Christ committed to us. How great the responsibility! How rich the privilege! Very great was the strength required for all this service, and it was given to these favored sons of Korah. They were "mighty men of valor," "strong men," "able men for strength for the service"; and each had his appointed service (1 Chron. 26:1-201Concerning the divisions of the porters: Of the Korhites was Meshelemiah the son of Kore, of the sons of Asaph. 2And the sons of Meshelemiah were, Zechariah the firstborn, Jediael the second, Zebadiah the third, Jathniel the fourth, 3Elam the fifth, Jehohanan the sixth, Elioenai the seventh. 4Moreover the sons of Obed-edom were, Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, and Sacar the fourth, and Nethaneel the fifth, 5Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peulthai the eighth: for God blessed him. 6Also unto Shemaiah his son were sons born, that ruled throughout the house of their father: for they were mighty men of valor. 7The sons of Shemaiah; Othni, and Rephael, and Obed, Elzabad, whose brethren were strong men, Elihu, and Semachiah. 8All these of the sons of Obed-edom: they and their sons and their brethren, able men for strength for the service, were threescore and two of Obed-edom. 9And Meshelemiah had sons and brethren, strong men, eighteen. 10Also Hosah, of the children of Merari, had sons; Simri the chief, (for though he was not the firstborn, yet his father made him the chief;) 11Hilkiah the second, Tebaliah the third, Zechariah the fourth: all the sons and brethren of Hosah were thirteen. 12Among these were the divisions of the porters, even among the chief men, having wards one against another, to minister in the house of the Lord. 13And they cast lots, as well the small as the great, according to the house of their fathers, for every gate. 14And the lot eastward fell to Shelemiah. Then for Zechariah his son, a wise counsellor, they cast lots; and his lot came out northward. 15To Obed-edom southward; and to his sons the house of Asuppim. 16To Shuppim and Hosah the lot came forth westward, with the gate Shallecheth, by the causeway of the going up, ward against ward. 17Eastward were six Levites, northward four a day, southward four a day, and toward Asuppim two and two. 18At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar. 19These are the divisions of the porters among the sons of Kore, and among the sons of Merari. 20And of the Levites, Ahijah was over the treasures of the house of God, and over the treasures of the dedicated things. (1 Chronicles 26:1‑20)).
Would it not be very blessed if we, who have been saved from the pit, each knew from the Lord his appointed work?—weakness itself, yet strong for His service in the power of His might.
Grace upon grace shadowed forth in these sons of Korah. They were royal guards of the hidden king—guards of the house and guards of the foundation (2 Chron. 23:4, 5, 194This is the thing that ye shall do; A third part of you entering on the sabbath, of the priests and of the Levites, shall be porters of the doors; 5And a third part shall be at the king's house; and a third part at the gate of the foundation: and all the people shall be in the courts of the house of the Lord. (2 Chronicles 23:4‑5)
19And he set the porters at the gates of the house of the Lord, that none which was unclean in any thing should enter in. (2 Chronicles 23:19)
). We are lost in wonder and praise. Saved from the pit, we are called to be the royal guards of the hidden, but coming, King of glory—guards of the house of God- guards of foundation truth. Once a child of the pit, now a child of glory—what dignity is this! Oh, for wholehearted devotedness to Him whom we shall soon meet in the air!
All this history of sovereign favor gives special sweetness to the psalms of these sons of Korah. But cannot we, now the shadows are past, also say, "How amiable are Thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! My soul longeth," etc. (Psalm 84:1, 21<<To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.>> How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! 2My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. (Psalm 84:1‑2))? Have we not been saved from the pit? Is there any privilege so great as being gathered together unto the name of the Lord Jesus? "There am I," He says, "in the midst of them." Now read this psalm, and think of the deep reality to our souls. Each line of this psalm seems connected with this history of distinguishing grace. What a dwelling place is the presence of the Lord! They will be still praising Thee. Is this our happy place, our sweet employ? Dwelling, praising, strength, these were marks of divine favor to the sons of Korah; are they not to us?
Once sons of the pit, now sons of God, it is our privilege to leave blessing behind us everywhere in this vale of tears—this valley of Baca. On, beloved, from strength to strength. God beholds our everlasting shield; He looks upon the face of His Anointed. Can we not say, "A day in Thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." Is not our God "as a sun and a shield"? "The LORD will give grace and glory." Sovereign blessing had the sons of Korah. "O LORD..., blessed is the man that trusteth in Thee."
May each of these divine breathings in this precious psalm be applied with power to our souls by the Holy Ghost! From "Things New and Old"