A Sacrifice of Song
In the Bible, covenants are made by sacrifice (Psalm 50). "Sacrifice" implies not only slaughter and burning, but also a meal. When Israel cuts or enters covenant, they seal it with a meal in the presence of Yahweh.
In Chronicles, music takes on much of the work of sacrifice. Song accompanies ascension offerings. Song is, like sacrifice, a memorial presented to God. Levites do the work (abodah) of music, and music is the new "burden" (massa) they bear, replacing the physical burdens of transporting the tabernacle.
When Asa renews covenant with the Lord, we see another sacrificial function of music: the people sing the covenant oath. Like offering an animal, music is a covenant-making or covenant-entering act. Song is a means of seeking Yahweh; song is also a commitment to seek him.
Think of that next time you open your mouth to sing at church. You're not just expressing your joy in the Lord, though you are doing that. The music doesn't exist only to enhance or elicit your delight in God, though it does that. Your singing is an oath-by-sacrifice, a commitment of body and soul to seek the Lord with everything you've got.
—Peter J. Leithart
Peter J. Leithart is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and the president of Trinity House Institute for Biblical, Liturgical & Cultural Studies in Birmingham, Alabama. His many books include Defending Constantine (InterVarsity), Between Babel and Beast (Cascade), and, most recently, Gratitude: An Intellectual History (Baylor University Press). His weblog can be found at www.leithart.com. He is a contributing editor of Touchstone.
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more on bible from the online archives
more from the online archives
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor