The Value of Music

Here’s an interesting verse:


The men did the work faithfully. Over them to direct them were Jahath and Obadiah, Levites descended from Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam, descended from Kohath. The Levites– all who were skilled in playing musical instruments–  had charge of the laborers and supervised all the workers from job to job.

2 Chronicles 34:12-13

In the modern world, we tend to think of musicians as dreamers, artistic souls who would be as out of place in a management position as a CEO would at a poetry reading.  Yet according to this passage from the biblical book of 2 Chronicles, musicians were sometimes placed in management positions on purpose.  This wasn’t a coincidence.  The passage specifically identifies the fact that they were musicians as their key characteristic.  Now, you may or may not know this, but he Levites were part of the priestly line of Israel and not all of them were musicians, so this passage clearly states that there was a search for Levites who were skilled musicians and that those discovered were placed in charge of this construction project.

Why was that?

It’s not at all clear from the passage, but it does suggest something that we may easily forget in an era of Just Beiber and Rihanna:  for most of human history, music has been a sacred thing and the ability to produce it has been highly valued, not because its entertaining but for other, far more profound reasons.