I’ve been reading through the book of Nehemiah for a while – just taking my time, digesting small portions at a time. There is so much meat in this book about leadership, priorities, etc.; but, today as I was reading, I felt this sense of humility, privilege, and reverent fear as a worship leader.
I was in chapter eight where the people, after they have re-built the walls, gather to hear Ezra read the Law. He is assisted by many, but I focused on the Levites (who were appointed, under David, to a ministry of music and praise – specifically as, “ministers before the ark of the Lord, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord.”) I focused on the Levites because they are basically what we call worship leaders today…just like me!
From Nehemiah 8:
2 – So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard
5 – Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people [on a box], and as he opened it all the people stood.
7 & 8 – …the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
Verses seven and eight hit me like a ton of bricks – a lump even formed in my throat. I am firm in the knowledge of my responsibilities as a worship leader (first) before the Lord and (second) to those I lead/serve; but what a profound and challenging reminder! Thank you Lord!
Check it out. What an example and model to imitate as a worship leader:
“…the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law” – They didn’t just lead singing, they facilitated understanding of God’s Law/Word.
“while the people remained in their places.” – They went where the people were…they didn’t minister or serve from Ezra’s side. It wasn’t just a “stage” thing – it’s an “in the trenches” thing.
“They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, they gave the sense…” – They didn’t just focus on singing or playing instruments with skill. They had an understanding of the Law themselves so they could impart its meaning.
“…so that the people understood the reading.” – Their involvement was active and equipped people to worship the Lord with a clear understanding of Him and His precepts.
A common plea from worship leaders to those they lead is that worship is more than just singing or what we do on Sundays – I know I try to message and model this regularly. To me, this short verse was the equivalent of the phrase “one finger pointing at you and three at me” we’ve heard when someone is preaching or teaching. As a worship leader, my ministry must be more than leading in a traditional worship format. Being just a “song leader”, in light of this verse, just isn’t biblical. Certainly leading corporate worship is part of this ministry, but modeling a life of worship and seeking to help others “understand” who they are worshiping are also key. I knew this, but I always appreciate the one-two punch the Holy Spirit uses as I read the Bible!
So, what am I doing writing this blog?
Aside from being a space to share random thoughts on life, I guess I see this forum as just one of the extensions of my leading worship in the traditional format at church. I’m just someone dependently following Christ, surrendering (although imperfectly at times) my life to His purposes, and following the example of those who came long before me. BTW, all my posts probably won’t have a heavy, biblical message; but, as a follower of Christ, its hard not to see God in all the areas of my life.
So I wrote this reflecting on the Levite angle, but if you are not a worship leader…it also applies to you! Verse 7 actually lists 13 other people who “helped the people to understand the Law”:
v7 – “Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites,…”