the descendants of Asaph 128
Kind of a strange passage about singing, isn't it? At first glance it doesn't seem to tell us much, but when you read it in context, it becomes a passage full of hope and God's grace.
In the years 588-586 BC, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, carried into exile a remnant of the Children of Israel whom he had not yet killed. Nebuchadnezzar also
"carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the LORD's temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. They set fire to God's temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there." (2 Chron. 36:18-19)The remnant was taken to Babylon as servants and his sons until the kingdom of Persia came to power–about 49 years later.
In the first year that Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, reigned over Babylon (he captured it in Oct. 539 BC), the LORD (Yahweh, the God of the Promise) moved the heart of Cyrus to rebuild the temple and let the Children of Israel return to their homeland (March 538 BC). What follows in Ezra 2 is the list of exiles who returned. Out of the 42,360 exiles who returned to Jerusalem, 128 of them were male descendants of Asaph–a musician, the chief minister before the ark of the LORD, a cymbal player, a seer, a recorder for King Hezekiah, the keeper of the king's forest, and the author of Psalm 50 and Psalms 73-83 .
This gives comfort and hope.
- The singing hadn't stopped when they were in exile, even though it was hard to sing praise to God when the Babylonians forced them to sing, as Psalm 137 records.
- There were many male descendants of Asaph after 49 years, showing that God still blessed the remnant, even in exile.
- The singing would continue–God brought the leaders of singing back to the rebuilding of his temple.