Asaph and Advent

1 Chronicles 25

The McCheyne calendar is set up in four columns. He designed it with the idea that a family would end up reading the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice during the course of the year. Knowing that everyone in his congregation was reading the same thing on the same dates, he thought it would give rise to good conversation and growth among fellow Christians. It was an ambitious goal, but not without precedent in Church history.

Today’s reading (1 Chronicles 25) comes from the column that begins in Genesis and goes straight through all the historical genres of the Old Testament. First Chronicles contains several long lists of names and numbers. It is a retelling of the story found in the 1 and 2 Kings from a slightly different perspective. How is it connected to our celebration of Advent?

I’ll admit this is a little bit of a stretch, but do you see the name Asaph in different places throughout 1 Chronicles 25? He and several of his sons work as musicians in the service of King David. Twelve songs in the Hebrew book of Psalms are directly attributed to Asaph. These psalms often carry a theme of salvation anticipated. God alone saves his people. He saves them out of the hand of enemies and he saves them from their own sins.

Asaph’s psalms are honest both about human sin and God’s salvation. Asaph is not only a poetic writer, but also a musician. While his music has been lost to the ages, the lyrics have not. God has preserved them for us. Two of the most poignant verses penned by Asaph are the following:

But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
Then we shall not turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call upon your name!
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts!
Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Psalm 80:17-19

Jesus is the ultimate “man of God’s right hand.” He is the son of man who was made strong. How was Jesus made strong?He wasn’t made in the sense that he was created. No, Jesus is God, the second person of the Trinity. Neither could he be made strong in the sense of gaining a power he didn’t previously have. He was made strong in order to save fallen man.

How exactly did he do that?

Jesus was made strong for salvation by becoming weak, taking on human flesh, living a life of perfect obedience that we were incapable of living, and dying the death we should have died. Jesus gives us life through his death and resurrection. We call upon his name in faith trusting that he alone has the power to restore our life. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of Asaph’s song.

One the one hand, Asaph and sons were singing about their King, meaning David. On the other hand, they were also prophesying the truth about Great David’s Greater Son, the one who was made strong to save us all.

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