Are you “a son of Korah”? Some of you instinctively might recoil at that thought if you know who Korah was. However there is a singing group who sing psalms and other spiritual music who call themselves the Sons of Korah. They don’t seem to mind the moniker. How about you? If someone referred to you as a “son of Korah” (or “daughter of Korah”), how would you feel about that?
Who was Korah? He was a Levite of the Kohath clan (Exodus 6:16+) and was a younger cousin of Moses and Aaron. Korah’s notoriety was based on the story of Numbers 16 where he apparently led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. He – along with Dathan and Abiram of the tribe of Reuben and 250 princes and leaders from other tribes – apparently were discontented with Aaron and his sons taking the role of priest to themselves. They felt all the nation was holy and other leaders should have equal access to God in the tabernacle holy place. In Korah’s mind, Aaron and Sons had separated and elevated themselves above the other Levites. Moses saw right through all this and even confronted Korah by asking, “… and do you want the priesthood also?” (Numbers 16:8-11).
It would be worth reading the account yourself in Numbers 16. Korah and his followers ended up being swallowed up in a massive “sinkhole” – but this hole also closed over all those it had captured. The 250 other leaders who had censers of incense, were executed by a fire from God for their insolence (Numbers 16:31-35).
Now to the point of this blog. What happened to Korah’s family?
We’re told that the households of some of the other rebel leaders like Dathan and Abiram of the tribe of Reuben were all together – and that entire families were swallowed up by the earth opening up and swallowing them all up. Yehovah actually told Moses to warn the congregants to “get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram”. (Numbers 16:23-24). So many of the neighboring families did obey and distance themselves but the immediate families of these men “stood at the door of their tents, with their wives, their sons, and their little children” (v. 27).
Numbers 16:31-35 “Now it came to pass, as he (Moses) finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly. Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, "Lest the earth swallow us up also!" And a fire came out from YHVH and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense.”
Before this story ends, 14,700 more rebels were killed by the plague sent by God (v. 49).
So who were the sons of Korah? The awful story of Korah shows that descendants can choose a different path than their father or grandfathers. Click on ‘Continue reading’ to learn the inspiring story of how the sons of Korah ended up in the years after their father’s rebellion.
In a recounting of the children of Israel, and the rebellion of Numbers 16, in Numbers 26:11 we’re clearly told: “Nevertheless, the children of Korah did not die.”
So they must have either distanced themselves from their father and showed that they loved God more than their own father – or they didn’t follow Korah their dad to the tabernacle door during the rebellion. Either way, they were spared death.
They grew up to be men of renown. Many came to be great psalmists. Others were doorkeepers to the tabernacle – and knowing this, helps us understand “I’d rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10). They were doorkeepers to the house of God, so they knew all about that.
They were in charge of the worship services at the tabernacle under King David (1 Chronicles 6:32-37) and in the singing service (1 Chronicles 9:19, 33). Many became noted singers – day and night – singing praises to God. You may have heard of Heman the Korahite – a great singer, along with Asaph, a Levite of the Gershon clan and Ethan of the Merarite clan.
Other Korahites became famous warriors, joining King David in his various exploits (1 Chronicles 12:6).
We’re not done! One of the most famous Korhites (descendant of Korah) was – the prophet Samuel! (See 1 Chronicles 6:22-28). He is one of my favorite prophets in the entire Bible. A son of Korah. Imagine that.
One of my favorite hymns is “As the Deer”, taken from Psalm 42. That psalm and about 10 others were written by descendants of Korah. You’ll see at the beginning of these beautiful psalms that it says “A contemplation of the sons of Korah”. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God….” So beautiful, so inspiring – and it’s a psalm NOT written by King David.
Some of the most beautiful psalms were written and composed by the Sons of Korah under divine inspiration.
Other beautiful hymns these talented men wrote were Psalms 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 84, 85, 87 and 88.
This shows us that our God is a merciful God and does not hold a grudge against the children of a rebel – if those children love God and don’t follow their father’s ways. More on this later.
Psalm 45 is about the Messiah coming to meet his Bride. So beautiful. So inspiring. “So the King will greatly desire your beauty…The royal daughter is all glorious within; Her clothing is woven with gold. She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors. The virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You. With gladness and rejoicing they shall be brought; they shall enter the King’s palace.” (verses 11-16).
That’s talking about some of you, some of us! The Bride of Messiah.
Their other psalms are equally beautiful. Psalm 46 – “there is a river whose streams shall make glad the City of God…” (v. 4).
Psalm 47 -- “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!”
This psalm reminds us that our God loves us to be excited about worshiping him – with shouts of acclaim, with clapping of hands, with raising of hands.
Psalm 84 is one of my all-time favorites and it was also written as a psalm “of the sons of Korah”. “How lovely is your tabernacle, O YHVH of hosts! My soul longs, yes even faints, for the courts of YHVH. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. …Blesses is the man whose strength is in you….they go from strength to strength….” (Psalm 84:1-2, 5, 7). They continue to exult in their living God throughout this beautiful psalm.
How beautiful to think of one’s children contributing such lofty praises to our living God – and these are children of the rebel Korah. I think Korah will repent in the resurrection and will be very moved to see how his children ended up.
And Psalm 87. Wow, what a psalm. A real home-run.
These men knew times of sorrow and depression as well. Psalm 88 is such a psalm. This psalm depicts times when you feel God’s anger at your sin and you are seeking Him and his loving forgiveness.
So children of God, if your earthly dad messes up, you can still let our God move in you and live in you and create in you a clean heart, a heart which adores your Savior and King. That’s exactly what the Sons of Korah did.
And for that matter, any of us earthly dads who may have been messing up—repent, and let’s lead our family and children in a way that glorifies our God. And yes, I always preach to myself too. But sometimes, our children can inspire us too, like the sons of Korah, who inspired a whole nation to worship and sing to their God. May Yah be praised!
So if you’re ever called a “Son of Korah” – yes, that’s a great compliment and glory to our loving, forgiving and gracious Creator God who works in the hearts and minds of those who seek Him.