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The Sons of Korah: their Faith and their Psalms

Jonathan Cope

Paperback or e-book (ePub)

144 pages

The Sons of Korah: their Faith and their Psalms

The Christadelphian review (from March 2013)

The Sons of Korah

This very readable book does just what its title says – it tells us about the sons of Korah, about their faith and the psalms attributed to them. Brother Jonathan Cope considers the rebellion of Korah (Numbers 16) and shows how remarkable it was that they stepped away from their father’s powerful challenge to the authority of Moses and consequently “perished not” when Korah and his company were swallowed up in the earth.

Doorkeepers in the house of God

By contrast with Korah’s dissatisfaction with his role as a Kohathite, his sons, probably under the fatherly care of Phinehas, became wonderful servants, preferring to be doorkeepers in the house of their God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness (Psalm 84:10). One of Korah’s notable descendants was Samuel, who in his youth “opened the doors of the house of the Lord” (1 Samuel 3:15).

Brother Jonathan ranges widely over scripture to draw out lessons for us in our own service today, making the point that we should all be “spiritual doorkeepers, guarding the doors of our mind against the influences of the world”. We are left in no doubt that we have a precious heritage of truth to guard.

The early chapters of the book, which focus on Korah’s rebellion and its outcomes, are a revision of articles that originally appeared in The Christadelphian. But chapters eight to twenty are entirely new material, visiting each of the twelve psalms attributed to the sons of Korah, providing a helpful analysis of each, and finding many links back to those events in their family history that must have been always in their consciousness. At the same time, we find many foreshadowings of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ and much practical exhortation for us today.

The right choice

An example of this is the exposition of Psalm 48, particularly verses 12-14:

“Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.”

The author takes the opportunity to write of how we may learn even today from the city of Jerusalem, and how parents in the Bible were instructed to bring up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4), drawing lessons from whatever was to hand. Parents were expected to explain the significance of the Passover; the twelve stones marking the crossing of the Jordan were there as a lasting memorial. Although it seems that Korah failed to provide a good example for his children, thankfully the faithful advice of others, such as Moses and Phinehas, prevailed. As a result, they made the right choice at the most critical moment of their lives. Fast forward to the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we imagine him walking around Zion, beholding its architecture, but thinking ahead to its future elevation as the glorious city of God – made possible only by his selfless sacrifice.

The example of Heman

Another type of the Lord Jesus Christ was Heman, specifically named in association with the sons of Korah in Psalm 88. Brother Jonathan brings together well the information we have about Heman: how he was both a prophet and a seer, endowed with musical ability, a man who gave his all in his service to God. The timescale of Heman’s life suggests his distress might have been the result of developments in the life of Solomon, whose many foreign wives turned his heart away to pagan deities. In the time of Korah, faithful people might have felt overwhelmed by the sheer numbers that turned to follow Korah’s “gainsaying”. Of course, the outcome of their rebellion was that they went down into the pit of the earth. In Psalm 88, Heman prays that he might be rescued from the pit of affliction, and from the rejection of those close to him which can be so hurtful. The parallel with the Lord Jesus Christ is clear:

“Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.” (Psalm 88:18)

Brother Jonathan observes that “times of hardship will come for every son or daughter of Adam”. Heman’s example of trust, like that of the other sons of Korah, exhorts every one of us to maintain our trust in God, in the sure knowledge that “He will be our guide even unto death” (Psalm 48:14).

This book covers much worthwhile ground and should find a place in every Christadelphian home.

Michael Owen

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