A black and white photo captures a ray of sunlight piercing through the dense forest, reminiscent of Asaph's transformation from doubt to faith in the Bible.

What Happened To Asaph In The Bible?

Asaph was an important figure in the Old Testament, serving as one of King David’s chief musicians. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Asaph was appointed by David to be a Levite temple musician, leading worship and writing many Psalms.

He continued serving during the reigns of David and Solomon.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore Asaph’s story in depth, looking at his origins, his musical role for King David, the psalms he wrote, and how his descendants carried on his legacy as temple singers.

With over 3000 words, we will uncover the fascinating biblical account of this influential Levite musician.

Asaph’s Origins and Family

Asaph was a Levite from the clan of Gershon

Asaph was a Levite, meaning he was from the tribe of Levi, one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Specifically, he was from the clan of Gershon within the tribe of Levi. The Levites were appointed by God to assist the priests in the temple and tabernacle worship.

They helped transport the tabernacle during the wilderness journey and later served by performing various duties in the temple in Jerusalem. The Gershonites, Asaph’s clan, were specifically tasked with transporting the curtains and coverings of the tabernacle.

Asaph was descended from Levi and a contemporary of David

Asaph was a descendant of Levi, who was one of the twelve sons of Jacob. Levi’s descendants, the Levites, were set apart by God for temple service. Asaph lived during the same time as King David, who reigned over Israel from around 1010 BC to 970 BC.

The Bible first mentions Asaph when David organized the temple musicians during his preparations to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. Asaph was appointed by David to be the leader and director of music and worship.

Asaph had sons who became temple singers like him

The Bible mentions Asaph’s sons, who followed in their father’s footsteps by becoming temple musicians and singers. Asaph had four sons: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, and Shimei. His descendants continued serving in the temple musician’s guild that bore Asaph’s name for many generations.

Other famous descendants include Heman and Ethan the Ezrahite, who like Asaph composed psalms found in the book of Psalms.

Asaph Becomes Chief Musician for David

King David was a skilled musician and lover of music, so it’s no surprise that when he became king, he organized musicians and singers to lead worship in the tabernacle. One of the chief musicians David appointed was a man named Asaph.

David organized musicians including Asaph for worship

The Bible tells us in 1 Chronicles 15:16-22 that David gathered together musicians and singers including Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their families. He organized them into groups and appointed Asaph as the chief musician to lead one of the groups.

Asaph was a Levite, meaning he was from the tribe dedicated to serving in the tabernacle, so he was well-qualified for this important position of leading worship.

Asaph and his musical sons were appointed by David

Not only was Asaph himself a skilled musician, but he passed on his musical talents to his sons. 1 Chronicles 25:1-7 records how David and his commanders set apart Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons for the ministry of prophesying through music.

In total, 24 of Asaph’s descendants were appointed along with him to lead music and worship, demonstrating how gifted Asaph’s family was musically!

Asaph helped transport the ark of the covenant

One of Asaph’s first major jobs in serving as chief musician was to help move the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. When David successfully brought the ark into Jerusalem, he appointed Asaph and his musical brothers Heman and Jeduthun to minister before the ark by playing cymbals, lyres and harps, as recorded in 1 Chronicles 16.

Having the famous Asaph lead the music on this momentous occasion highlights his importance and skill.

Asaph clearly played a key role in establishing musical worship in ancient Israel. His appointment by David and his famous Psalms attest to his musical brilliance and spiritual sensitivity. Centuries later, Asaph’s name still appears in our Bibles as one of the most influential musicians and worship leaders in the Bible!

The Psalms Attributed to Asaph

Asaph was known as a prominent Levite and musician in the Old Testament who wrote 12 psalms in the Book of Psalms (Psalms 50 and 73-83). His psalms reflect key themes like recounting Israel’s history, cries of lament, and songs of praise to God.

Psalm 50 in particular stands out, calling the people to worship Yahweh properly by offering acceptable sacrifices and thanksgiving.

Asaph Wrote 12 Psalms in the Book of Psalms

Asaph is credited with authoring a dozen psalms in Scripture, specifically Psalms 50 and 73 through 83. He was a contemporary of David and served as one of the chief musicians and poets in the tabernacle worship (1 Chronicles 16:4-5).

The Asaph Psalms comprise about one-sixth of the Book of Psalms, indicating his significant contribution to Israel’s songbook. These spirit-inspired poems were likely used in public worship services to recount key events in Israel’s history with God.

Themes Include History, Lament, and Praise

Several defining themes emerge in Asaph’s psalms. Psalms 78 and 105 rehearse highlights from Israel’s story to teach spiritual lessons. The psalmist cries out to God in times of distress and doubt in Psalms 74, 79, 80, and 83.

And Psalms 75, 76, 81, and 82 feature praise and thanksgiving for God’s just reign. Through poetic verse, Asaph covers the spectrum of human experience – from joyful triumph to confusion in suffering. Yet his lyrics ultimately point to Yahweh as the only reliable constant. structure in life’s chaos.

Psalm 50 Calls to Worship God Rightly

Psalm 50 holds special significance as a pure Asaph psalm calling all nations to worship Yahweh properly. God Himself speaks in the first person rebuking those who pay lip service to ritual sacrifice yet cling to wickedness secretly (Psalm 50:16-22).

Asaph makes it clear that External religious routine means nothing if the heart is not contrite and thankful before God. He prophetically foreshadows New Testament teaching that legalism rings hollow without a genuine inward faith and grace empowering one’s deeds (Romans 3:21-24).

Through Asaph’s psalmody, we are reminded that Yahweh examines the inner spirit behind outward works and desires truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6).

Asaph’s Descendants Served in the Temple

Asaph’s sons were leaders of temple music

Asaph was one of the three Levites that King David appointed as chief musicians in the tabernacle worship services (1 Chronicles 6:39). Asaph and his associates Heman and Ethan were responsible for leading the music and prayers in the tabernacle (1 Chronicles 16:4-7).

The Bible notes that Asaph had four sons – Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Shimei, and Uzziel (1 Chronicles 25:2). These sons were leaders of music along with their father Asaph during the reign of King David. Asaph’s descendants served as temple musicians for many generations after him.

The sons of Asaph returned from exile in Babylon

In 586 BC, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple in Jerusalem and took many Israelites captive to Babylon. Some of Asaph’s descendants were among those taken to Babylon.

After 70 years of exile, some of the Israelites were allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Among the returnees were about 120 of Asaph’s descendants, including Zechariah, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asarelah (Ezra 2:41).

These men were Levitical musicians whose ancestors had served in the temple.

The book of Nehemiah mentions that in the rebuilt temple, thanksgiving songs were led by a Levite choir that included “Mattaniah son of Mica, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph” (Nehemiah 11:17). So Asaph’s lineage continued to lead music in the temple even after the exile.

The lineage of Asaph continued for centuries

Historical records show that Asaph’s descendants served as temple musicians for many generations. The sons and grandsons of Asaph are mentioned as singers and cymbal players during the dedications of Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 5:12) and the rebuilt temple of Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 12:35-36).

The Levitical singers and musicians were organized into divisions. Years after the exile, the sons of Asaph were still recognized as a distinct division of temple singers (Ezra 2:41; Nehemiah 7:44).

In the New Testament period, Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah is simply identified as “Zechariah son of Asaph” (Luke 1:67-79). This indicates that centuries later, Asaph was still revered as the ancestor of this family of temple musicians.


In summary, Asaph was an influential Levite musician in the Bible. Appointed by David for tabernacle worship, he led music and composed psalms. His descendants carried on serving as temple singers for generations after. Asaph’s story shows how God uses gifted people for His glory.

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