Asaph – The First Minister of Music


by John C. Westervelt


     King David’s love for music began as a boy while playing the harp.  When he became king, he appointed Asaph as chief musician and assigned him to create choirs to sing songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving.

     The first performance was in celebration of the return of the ark to the temple in Jerusalem.  Asaph directed the singers and musicians playing harps and lyres while he played loud cymbals of bronze.

     Music was important to David as evidenced by the fact that Asaph enlisted 288 professional singers and musicians to teach 4000 pupils.  David divided the musicians into twenty-four groups to correspond to the twenty-four groups of Levite priests, so choirs and accompaniment were available for every occasion.

     Under the direction of King David, Asaph prophesied in song.  This first Minister of Music lives on in history.  Asaph’s name is the byline of Psalms 50 and 73 through 83.  Some of these Psalms are lyrics written by Asaph, while others were written by Asaph’s descendants or possibly by choirmasters of a choir guild that was named after Asaph.

     In Psalm 50, Asaph recognizes the self-sufficiency of God, “...For every animal of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine.  If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all it contains.”

     Early in Psalm 78, Asaph writes, “For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should teach them to their children, that the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God.”

     Asaph continues in Psalm 78 describing a wayward Hebrew people, then near the end of Psalm 78 he writes, “The Lord rejected the tent of Joseph, and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, but chose the tribe of Judah...He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds; from the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him, to shepherd Jacob His people.”

     The opening verses of Psalm 81 show that music is a form of worship.  “Sing for joy to God our strength; shout joyfully to the God of Jacob.  Raise a song, strike the timbrel, the sweet sounding lyre with the harp.  Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day.”

     David and Asaph left you and me a legacy of worship through music.


I Chronicles 15,16,23,25; Psalm 50, 73-83


Copyright 2002 by John C. Westervelt


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