David Organizes the Levites
23 Now David was old and full of days. And he made Solomon his son king over Israel. 2 And he assembled all the commanders of Israel and the priests and the Levites. 3 And the Levites from thirty years old and above were counted, and their number according to their head count for the men was thirty-eight thousand. 4 Of these, David said, “Twenty-four thousand are to direct the work of the house of Yahweh, along with six thousand judges and officials, 5 four thousand gatekeepers, and four thousand offering praise to Yahweh with the instruments that I have made for praise.” 6 And David organized them in divisions according to the sons of Levi: to Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
7 For the Gershonites were Ladan and Shimei. 8 The sons of Ladan: Jehiel the chief and Zetham and Joel, three. 9 The sons of Shimei: Shelomoth, Haziel, and Haran, three. These were the heads of the families of Ladan. 10 And the sons of Shimei: Jahath, Zina, Jeush, and Beriah; these four were the sons of Shimei. 11 And Jahath was the chief, and Zizah the second, but Jeush and Beriah did not have many sons. They were enrolled as one for the house of a father.
12 The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, four. 13 The sons of Amram: Aaron and Moses. And Aaron was set apart to consecrate the most holy things. He and his sons were to burn offerings forever before Yahweh to serve him and to bless in his name forever. 14 But Moses the man of God and his sons were reckoned among the tribe of Levi. 15 The sons of Moses: Gershom and Eliezer. 16 The sons of Gershom: Shebuel the chief. 17 And the sons of Eliezer were Rehabiah, the head. And Eliezer had no other sons, but the sons of Rehabiah were very many. 18 The sons of Izhar: Shelomith the chief. 19 The sons of Hebron: Jeriah the chief, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third, and Jekameam the fourth. 20 The sons of Uzziel: Micah the chief and Isshiah the second.
21 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. The sons of Mahli: Eleazar and Kish. 22 And Eleazar died, and he did not have sons, but only daughters. And the sons of Kish, their relatives, married them. 23 The sons of Mushi: Mahli, Eder, and Jeremoth, three.
24 These were the sons of Levi according to the house of their fathers, the heads of the families, according to their enrollment, by the number of the names, according to their head count, who were to do the work of the service of the house of Yahweh, from twenty years old and above. 25 For David said, “Yahweh, the God of Israel, has given rest to his people, and he dwells in Jerusalem forever. 26 And also, the Levites do not need to carry the tabernacle and all its vessels for its service.” 27 For by the last words of David, they are the number of the sons of Levi, from twenty years old and above. 28 For their station was to assist the sons of Aaron with the service of the house of Yahweh, over the courtyards, over the chambers, and over the cleansing of all the sanctified objects, and with the work of the service of the house of God, 29 and with the rows of bread, the flour, the grain offering, the wafers of unleavened bread, the baked offering, the offering mixed with oil, and for all the amounts and measurements. 30 And they were to stand every morning, thanking and praising Yahweh, and likewise in the evening, 31 and for every burnt offering offered to Yahweh, on Sabbaths, on new moon festivals, and at the appointed feasts, according to the customary number required of them, regularly before Yahweh. 32 And they shall keep the responsibility of the tent of assembly, the responsibility of the sanctified objects, and the responsibility of the sons of Aaron, their brothers, to serve the house of Yahweh.
Difficult Times Ahead in the Last Days
3 But know this, that in the last days difficult times will come, 2 for people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, slanderers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 hardhearted, irreconcilable, slanderous, without self-control, savage, with no interest for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, loving pleasure rather than loving God, 5 maintaining a form of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid these people. 6 For from these are those who slip into houses and captivate foolish women loaded down with sins, led by various kinds of desires, 7 always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 And just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these oppose the truth, people corrupted in mind, disqualified concerning the faith. 9 But they will not progress to a greater extent, for their folly will be quite evident to everyone, as also the folly of those two was.
1 O Yahweh, God of my salvation,
I cry out by day and through the night before you.
2 Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry.
3 For my soul is full with troubles,
and my life approaches Sheol.
4 I am reckoned with those descending to the pit.
I am like a man without strength,
5 set free among the dead,
like the slain lying in the grave,
whom you no longer remember,
even those cut off from your hand.
6 You have set me in the pit below,
in dark places, in the depths.
7 Your wrath presses upon me,
and you afflict me with all your waves. Selah
8 You have removed my acquaintances far from me.
You have made me detestable to them.
I am confined and cannot go out.
9 My eye languishes from misery.
I call on you, O Yahweh, every day;
I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you work wonders for the dead?
Or do the departed spirits rise up to praise you? Selah
11 Is your loyal love told in the grave,
or your faithfulness in the underworld?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
13 But as for me, I cry for help to you, O Yahweh,
and in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 Why do you reject my soul, O Yahweh?
Why do you hide your face from me?
15 I am afflicted and perishing from my youth.
I bear your terrors. I am distraught.
16 Your burning anger has passed over me;
your sudden fears have destroyed me.
17 They surround me like water all the day;
they circle about me altogether.
18 You have removed loved one and friend far from me,
my acquaintances far from my darkness.
Sometimes we go through dark periods in our lives where the misery feels never-ending. Trial hits, pain hits, and just when we think life might get “back to normal,” we are hit by yet another difficulty. At times like these, we may feel forgotten by God.
In Psalm 88, we find one of the most utter prolonged cries of despair: “O Yahweh, God of my salvation, I cry out by day and through the night before you,” the psalmist begins (Psa 88:1). This psalm never climaxes or hints of hope, and it ends even more desperately than it begins. The psalmist, feeling abandoned by God, has his loved ones taken from him. He is left to navigate the darkness alone (Psa 88:18).
How do we deal with our own misery when confronted by a tragic psalm like this? How should we respond to God?
We can start with what the psalmist, despite his prolonged suffering, acknowledges about God. Although his troubles are still present, he also recognizes God as his deliverer (Psa 88:6–9). He appeals to God’s reputation as a God of wonders, deserving of praise: “Do you work wonders from the dead? Or do the departed spirits rise up to praise you?” (Psa 88:10). He appeals to God’s loyal love, faithfulness, and righteousness: “Is your loyal love told in the grave, or your faithfulness in the underworld? Are your wonders known in the darkness or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?” (Psa 88:11).
The psalmist never comes to a place where he expresses even a glimmer of hope. But through cries, questions, and torment, he holds on to what he knows to be true about God. In his very cry, the psalmist acknowledges that God will be present in his situation. While the questions in this psalm remain unanswered, we see that the psalmist lives in the awareness that God cares and will eventually act. In the meantime, he places himself in God’s faithfulness.
We see a parallel situation in Paul’s letter to Timothy; Paul addresses the difficult days that will come. He says they will be difficult for one reason: disobedience. In those days, “people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, slanderers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, hardhearted, irreconcilable, slanderous, without self-control, savage, with no interest for what is good” (2 Tim 3:2–3). The list goes on further, describes all types of disobedience against God—something that is absent from the psalmist’s cries. What’s most fascinating about the parallel is that it hints at the root of what the psalmist is experiencing: disobedience may not be acknowledged in his cry (he is innocent), but the world is a disobedient place. It is full of sin and oppression. Ultimately, it’s the sins of humanity that brought pain to the world.
In this life, we’ll go through dark times and struggles that may never end. We may even feel forgotten. But despite what we think or feel, we can’t abandon what we know to be true of God. Even when our state or our emotions are contrary to the desire to worship Him, we are called to trust in Him and in His love.
If He was willing to abandon His only son on a cross to redeem you, then He is certainly trustworthy. If you trust in Him, He will not forsake you.
How are you trusting God through dark times? How are you reaching out to someone who is struggling?
Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord
Publisher: Lexham Press
Publication Date: 2012
This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.