Having called the Levite leaders together, David then divides them according to the sons of Levi, who were Gershon, Kohath and Merari. These family groupings had been described hundreds of years before in Numbers 3 and 4. The Gershonites were to take care of the skins that covered the tabernacle itself. The Kohathites were to take care of the furniture of the tabernacle including the ark of the covenant. They were to do this under the direction of Eleazar the priest, son of Aaron. The family of Merari was to take care of the structural aspects of the tabernacle including the pillars, the boards and so forth.
The names and lineage are all then painstakingly noted in the passage. This can often make reading laborious and feel unimportant or have little consequence, but for the Israelites of the time, who were returning from exile, it was a means of identifying their own connection and inheritance from their forefathers. Today it gives us an overarching view of how God saw and sees His people: what an awesome thought that is!
The sons of Aaron were set apart forever, as he and his sons were to be priests. It was not enough to be a member of the tribe of Levi for that role. You had to be descended from Aaron’s family to be able to carry out priestly duties. By the time David created these divisions in the sons of Aaron there was a large number of descendants and he divided them in a way that they could fairly be assigned the privileged service of the temple.
The biblical understanding of servanthood has its foundation in people serving God in worship. The terms for servant and worship are often interchangeable. Servanthood itself is the state of being the servant of others, but for us, especially of God. Scripture stresses the privileges and responsibilities of being a servant of God and points to Jesus Christ as the model of servanthood. As Jesus, at the Last Supper, set aside his robes, took a towel and bowl and washed his disciples’ feet, we are to be ever prepared to serve others in the same way. Our world finds this a mysterious concept when much of it is more concerned with serving itself.
Lord God help me to be a servant for you in the world where I live. Seeing what you see and responding as you will. In Jesus name, Amen.