Smile... The Future's On Its Way
by C.J. Horn
Satisified with the Assignment: A Perspective on Jealousy
"I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, Than to dwell in the tents of wickedness" Psalm 84:10.
Psalm 84 is one of eleven psalms designated as a psalm "for the sons of Korah." These headings are considered by Biblical scholars to be part of the inspired text. However, there are differences of opinion regarding the authorship of these eleven psalms. In spite of the disputes regarding authorship, the tenth verse of Psalm 84 states a conclusion that shows that regardless of who the author was, he made a decision about his willingness to serve God. For purposes of study, we will assume that the writer of Psalm 84 was acutely aware of the history of the Sons of Korah.
The Family of Korah
Korah was a cousin of Moses. He, like Moses, was a great grandson of Levi (son of Israel and progenitor of one of the twelve tribes). Korah's father was Izhar, brother to Moses' father, Amram. Numbers 16 records the rebellion of Korah, when he accused Moses and Aaron of taking "too much" upon themselves, referring to the priestly duties of Moses and Aaron. Moses accepted the challenge and invited Korah and his followers to offer incense, with the stipulation that if the cause of their death was a "new thing" (Numbers 16:30) and the ground opened and swallowed them up, then all would know they were not to be recognized as priests of God. Not only did the ground open and swallow all the men that pertained to Korah and their goods "alive," a fire came from God and "consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense" along with Korah (Numbers 6:32-35). Korah refused to be satisfied with the assignment given him by God and paid a high price for dissatisfaction.
Korah's rebellion was born of jealousy. Although he was also of the tribe of Levi, his family's duties in the service of the tabernacle were that of temple singers, gatekeepers (porters) and bakers (1 Chronicles 9; 1 Chronicles 26; 2 Chronicles 20). One of the porters duties was to guard against anyone unclean entering into the courts of God (2 Chronicles 23:19). Obviously, some of these positions could have become tiresome and would not garner the public's respect, like that of the priests. And yet, the writer of Psalm 84 exhibits a very different attitude on behalf of this segment of the Levitical support staff than that of the family of Korah who rebelled against Moses.
The Courts of God
The writer of Psalm 84 also testified: "A day in thy courts is better than a thousand" (Psalm 84:10). The courts of the House of God were the place where the people of God worshipped.
The word used to designate the tabernacle, is related to the ordinary Canaanite word for "dwelling place," and meant originally a tent, thus reflecting the nomadic background of tabernacle worship. A related verb "dwell" is used of God being "tabernacled"with His people (Exodus 25:8; Exodus 29:45). ... The sense is that of God's revealing Himself on earth in the midst of His chosen people.
The courts of God are first mentioned in reference to the wilderness tabernacle and there were detailed instructions regarding their construction.
"And therewith he made the sockets to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the brazen altar, and the brazen grate for it, and all the vessels of the altar, And the sockets of the court round about, and the sockets of the court gate, and all the pins of the tabernacle, and all the pins of the court round about." (Exodus 38:30, 31).
The courts of God were constructed last and surrounded the "tabernacle and the altar" (Exodus 40:33). They were 150 feet in length and 75 feet in width (Exodus 27:9-18; 38:9-20). The tabernacle was portable and the enclosure's wall was a curtain made of finely woven linen, about 7 1/2 feet tall (assuming a cubit is 18 inches). The courts were entered through the "gate" (30 feet wide) described in Exodus 27:16. It was covered with a beautifully woven tapestry, "of blue, and purple, and scarlet."
Within this open court the various types of sacrificial offerings were presented and the public acts of worship took place. Near the center was situated the great altar of burnt offering made from acacia wood overlaid with bronze (Exodus 27:1-8) measuring nearly eight feet square and about five feet in height. Its corner projections were known as the "horns" of the altar. The various sacrificial implements associated with this altar were also made of bronze. A fire which had been miraculously kindled burned continuously on the altar, and was tended by the priests (Lev. 6:12; 9:24). Almost in the center of the court was the bronze laver which was used by the priests for ritual ablutions (washing).
It was in this desert setting that Korah rebelled against Moses, but because God is merciful, Korah's family was not completely obliterated. Numbers 26:11 records "Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not."
The sons of Korah lived to see the day when Israel would cross Jordan. One of their family's duties was to carry the ark of the covenant.(Deuteronomy 10:8; I Chronicles 15:15) The need for this duty was suspended when the temple was completed at Jerusalem. "The Lord God of Israel hath given rest unto his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem forever" (1 Chronicles 23:25). The courts of God were a part of Solomon's temple, as well: "He shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father" (1 Chronicles 28:6). Solomon's father, David, gave him the pattern for everything that was to be built, including the courts (1 Chronicles 28:12). It was an enormous building project as discussed in a later chapter. When it was completed, all Jerusalem turned out for the dedication and gathered in the "great court" ( 1 Kings 7:12). In order for everyone to see, Solomon erected a scaffold approximately 4 1/2 feet high, set in the "midst of the court." It was here that he offered the prayer of dedication (2 Chronicles 6:13-42). It was a memorable day of worship! At the end of his prayer, "fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house...And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped" (2 Chronicles 7:1-3). The sons of Korah would still have been singers and porters during this time.
It was in the "court of the Lord's house" (Solomon's temple) that Jeremiah prophesied the Babylonian captivity. "Thus saith the Lord; Stand in the court of the Lord's house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord's house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word" (Jeremiah 26:2). Not only were the courts a place where all the people of Israel worshipped, it was here they were admonished for their sin.
In the courts of God, the relationship between man and man was far overshadowed by the relationship of man to his Creator. This relationship is what brought the God's people together in one place. Even the word used in Scripture for "court" points this out. This word is also translated "village" in Scripture and speaks of a "village with no walls" (Leviticus 35:21). It was not a physical wall around the court that separated the people from the outside world. It was their mutual ideology that drew them together within. The courts of God were a place where all were equal . not equal in their abilities or job assignments or resources, but equal in that they were all created by one God. "The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all" (Proverbs 22:2).
Coming to An Understanding
It was an understanding of this relationship to the Creator that surfaced time and time again in the eleven Psalms written for the sons of Korah. "My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding" (Psalm 49:2).
The Psalmist longed for the house of God (Psalm 42:2-4; Psalm 84:2-4). He cried because he thought God had forgotten him (Psalm 44:9-11). He held steadfastly to God in the midst of great trial (Psalm 44:16-20). He remembered what God has done in the past for His people (Psalm 44:1-5). He left thoughts of the world behind and worshipped (Psalm 45). He spoke of the true world to come (Psalm 46:4-5; 9-11; Psalm 47; Psalm 48). He understood the end of worldly treasure and pride (Psalm 49). He was satisfied with any assignment God gave him (Psalm 84:10). All his praise belonged to God (Psalm 84:11-12). He was repentant (Psalm 85).
Repentance is necessary because the relationship of every man was broken when Adam sinned against his Creator. The seemingly elaborate ceremonies of the tabernacle in the wilderness (and later the sacrifices that were done in Jerusalem) were based upon the need to span the gulf between man and God caused by man's sin. This system of sacrifice came to an end with the culmination of God's redemptive plan - the sacrifice of His own son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus in the Court
When Jesus died on the cross, the veil of the temple was ripped in two from the top to the bottom (Mark 15:38) signifying once and for all the sufficiency of His sacrifice for man's sin (Hebrews 9). Just a few hours prior to this, He stood accused in a room just adjacent to the largest court in the grand temple of God built in Herod's day.
"There was a stone room in the southwestern corner of the temple, adjoining the place where the largest court flared out toward the Pool of Siloe. Here the Great Sanhedrin met. ...Jesus was led inside and held, standing between the facing rows. Two hundred feet away his Father was being worshipped unceasingly. One hundred feet away many of the Jews who believed in Him walked on the royal porch in the morning sunshine."
If ever there was someone who had a right to rebel against the assignment given, it was our Savior. And yet, He said "not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:42).
Our Day in Court
The Day of Atonement was not an option for the children of Israel. Everyone was required to participate. This is true in a sense for today's Christian as it relates to acceptance of the One who made the atoning sacrifice for man. All must meet God with the same offering . His only begotten Son sacrificed in man's place. This is not an option if one desires to "enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise" (Psalm 100:4). There is a day coming when all true believers who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior shall enjoy the courts of God. Ezekiel's prophecy is graphic:
"Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD'S glory. And the sound of the cherubims' wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh" (Ezekiel 10:4-5).
True Satisfaction
It may seem a simple truth that concentrating on one's standing before God will bring satisfaction with any earthly assignment. But remembering one's relationship to God is the foundation of all relationships between men. Dissatisfaction usually comes from looking at another man's things. Satisfaction results from looking at the things that God has provided. Especially is this true in contemplating the provision of salvation through the One who followed through with the most difficult task ever assigned in the universe: cruel death, though perfectly innocent. Not only does Jesus Christ's obedience serve as an example of obedience for every man, it opened the door to every believer for blessing.
Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple (Psalm 65:4).