THE SONS OF KORAH - A Sight For Sore Eyes Print E-mail



By: Rev. Sandy Steele

June 2013



The Sons of Korah are a picture of what pleases God.


“They are a sight for Sore eyes.”


And, God’s eyes were happy to see them!






  “A Sight For Sore Eyes” (My eyes are happy to see you)


            Julio - our little red headed church boy walked into the church on a Sunday morning after being gone for a while and, as always, my heart was trilled to see him.  I went up to him and loved on him, telling him that he was “a sight for sore eyes”.  His response was, “what does that mean?”  I told him that it meant that my eyes were happy to see him!


            On the way home from church that night I said to Robert, “I have been going through kind of a dry spell lately regarding getting into God’s Word.  I would really love for the Lord to teach me a new, fresh way to get back in to studying the bible.”  Something He would lead me in Himself - not me just coming up with something myself.


            Health issues that I deal with can be extremely discouraging at times, and it can be easy to get my focus on that.  Something like that can be a huge distraction, and can make me feel like the enemy is getting the best of me much of the time.


                        But God!  Is bigger! - Is greater! - and He never looses!


Often times God uses me in evangelism and counseling - there is never a time that I feel more alive than when I am under His anointing in those areas.  (His wisdom and understanding is amazing, and He makes me smarter than I am).  I have come to realize that It doesn’t matter to Him if I feel like I am full or empty, up or down, if there is a need and I am in the vicinity He will use me, just as He will you.  Have you ever noticed how He never asks if it is convenient or how you feel about it?  

                                                He expects to be trusted!


                                    So it’s not based on our feelings.

                                                    But on Him!


            The Lord did honor my request for a new, and fresh way to get into His Word - actually I think it was the very next day.  

            It is interesting to note that early in my study somewhere, somehow I ran across the same phrase I spoke to Julio-  “A sight for sore eyes” - and I realized the Lord was speaking the words to me.  He was basically saying, “it’s been a while and my eyes are happy to see you again in this position.”  It wasn’t in a condemning way, but in a loving way.

            So, I settled into my quiet place and asked, “okay, where are we going?”

Part of a scripture popped into my head right away which was: 


Psalm 45:1 - My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

I thought that we would be studying this Psalm, but I was mistaken, at least to begin with.  I couldn’t get past the introduction to this Psalm.  The sons of Korah are given credit for this Psalm and I realized I knew very little about them, so much background research and refreshing would be required.  This would end up being an in-depth study (for me anyway).


            So our story begins with Moses and the Israelites during the time they journeyed through the wilderness just after leaving Egypt.


Keeping in mind that the Israelites had already had the experience at Mt. Sinai where the people did not want God to speak directly to them but to speak to them through Moses.  They are the ones that chose to stay afar from God.


Exodus 20:18 - 21

            And all of the people saw the thunder, the lightening, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking and when the people saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off.

            V. 19 - and they said to Moses, “You speak yourself to us and we will listen; but do not let God speak directly to us, or we will die.

            V. 20 - And Moses said to the people, “Fear not:  for God is come to test you (or prove you) and that His fear may be before you (or before your faces) to keep you from sinning.”


            V. 21- The people remained at a distance, while Moses (alone) approached the thick darkness where God was.


            At this time God set aside the Levites out of all of the tribes of Israel for full time service to Him.

            They were ordained to take care of the Tabernacle, and the ark of the covenant.

But, only the descendants of Moses and Aaron were allowed to serve as priests.


            The 3 sons of Levi were:

Gershon, Merari, and Kohath  (1 Chronicles 6:1)


The Gershonites - were responsible for the tabernacle and tent, all its curtains, and coverings, and everything involved in that.


The Merarites - were appointed to take care of the frames of the tabernacle, its crossbars, posts, basses, and all it equipment related to their use.


The Kohathites - were responsible for the care of the sanctuary - they were to take care of the ark, the table, the lamp stand, the altars and all the articles of the sanctuary used in ministering.  They were under the direction of Aaron’s son, Eleazor.


            Unlike the Gershonites and Merartes who were allowed to transport their items on carts,

            The Kohathites had to carry the holy things of the Tabernacle on their shoulders and the priest had to use special coverings and carefully wrap the sacred items before they could be moved, because if the Kohathites actually touched the items they would die (Numbers 4:15-17).  It was a very hot and grueling job to transport the objects every time the camp moved.


            Other duties of the Kohathites in the tabernacle were that of singers, gatekeepers (or porters) and bakers.


            You’ve heard it said by people, “oh, I would be happy just to be a gatekeeper in the house of the Lord.”

            One would be wise to reconsider that kind of thinking if they knew what was really required of the gatekeepers.  One of their jobs was to keep anyone unclean out of the tabernacle and the temple.  If anyone entered illegally they were responsible for enforcing the death penalty.


            Obviously, some of their responsibilities could have become tiresome and certainly would not make them always popular with the people.  Nor would it gain them the respect as that of the Priests.


            So it seems that many of the Kohathites started to resent their jobs and began to lust after the role of the priest.


            Korah’s story is recorded in Numbers 16:1-40


            Korah was a cousin to Moses and Aaron (their fathers were brothers)

            Korah was a very popular levite leader and had a very influential part in the exodus from Egypt.

            Korah was also one of the first Levites given special services as a tabernacle assistant.


Soon after Israel’s rebellion against God . . . 


Numbers chapters 13 & 14 (summary of their first time to see the promised land)


            The Lord said to Moses, “send some men (12 leaders, one from each tribe) to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites” . . . See what the land and people are like . . . And bring back some of the fruit of the land . . . And at the end of 40 days they did return from exploring the land with some of the fruit from the land.  They agreed that it was a land flowing with milk and honey, but said that there were giants in the land.  They said they seemed like grasshoppers in their own eyes and were sure they looked the same to them.


            All but Caleb and Joshua, who said “we are well able to take the land”, discouraged the people from going forward to Canaan . . . They put their confidence in the judgement of men when they had the word of God to trust in.


            All the people grumbled against Moses and Aaron . . . Saying, “we should choose a leader and go back to Egypt”.  Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb pled with the people to not rebel against the Lord.  But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. 


            The Lord wanted to strike the people down with a plague and destroy them, but Moses pled with The Lord to spare them.  The Lord relented but would not let them enter the promised land until all of those 20 years old or more who had grumbled against the Lord died in the wilderness.  The Lord said, “as for your children, I will bring them into the land that you rejected.”  God said, “as for this wicked community they will meet their end in this wilderness, here they will die: . . . Only Joshua and Caleb survived.


            When Moses reported this to all of the Israelites, they mourned bitterly . . . Early the next morning they set out saying, “now we are ready to go up to the land The Lord has promised” . . . Moses warned them not to go saying, “The Lord is not with you and you will be defeated”.  Nevertheless, in their presumption they went . . . The canaanites and the Amalekites came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah. 


Numbers 14:33 - says “Your children will be shepherds (or wanderers) for 40 years, (The Lord added one year for each of the 40 days they were in Canaan) suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lie in the wilderness).


            . . . Korah stared his own little rebellion (very soon after this)- he openly defied the authority of Moses and Aaron . . . Korah wanted to annul the separation between the priest (family of Aaron) and the rest of the Levite tribe . . . (he probably wanted to hold the office of High Priest himself).


            In order for that to happen he needed some support . . . So he rounds up a nice little grievance committee to back him up.


            Korah camped on the south side of the tabernacle neighboring next to the tribe of Rueben.  Since they were in daily contact with each other it would have been easy for Korah to influence the leaders to his way of thinking.


            V.16 - Dathan and Abiram were the first to join in with Korah and his rebellion.  Both were Ruebenites and their families were very prominent in the tribe.


            It is certainly possible that they felt they “themselves” had some claim to the priesthood instead of the Levite tribe since they were the descendants of the firstborn of Jacob.


            During their “mudslinging” campaign along with Korah’s strong influence over the people they managed to convince 250 respected leaders of the Jewish camp to join them in their uprising and to challenge Moses and Aaron’s rights to the priesthood.


            So they confront Moses and Aaron.


Their list of complaints boiled down to just 3 statements:

1.  You are no better than the rest of us.

2.  All of Israel has been chosen (or set apart) by God.

3.  We do not have to obey you.


            What they conveniently ignored here was that Moses and Aaron were appointed by God Himself.

            Both Moses and Aaron surely would have agreed with them that the first 2 statements were true, but Korah’s application and motives concerning these truths were wrong . . . Not all of Israel were chosen to lead.


            It seems that Korah was convinced that he had as much right to lead as Moses did - Maybe he thought that he could actually do it better than Moses.


            Do we not see this kind of thing in the church today?  “let’s try it my way”.


Korah’s rebellion cost him everything.


Numbers 16:8

            Moses confronts Korah asking “Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel to bring you near to Himself to do the work of the Tabernacle of the Lord: . . . And, you are seeking the priesthood also?”


            Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the Lord”.


            Moses rebukes Korah and his fellow Levites for their unthankfulness - they had already been highly favored by God and allowed to do something the other tribes were not allowed to do.


            Korah and his followers knew God , but they still only wanted to know Him from a far.  They still did not want to have an up close and personal relationship with Him.  God had given them yet another opportunity to draw close to Him but they refused, still wanting to do it their way.


Numbers 16:12

            Moses called for Dathan and Abiram, in an effort to nip this rebellion in the bud by meeting with them privately and to prevent them from dying. 

But they said, “We will not come up.”


            Instead they accused Moses of:


- leading them out of the land flowing with milk and honey

- Being a dictator

- Failing to keep his promises

- And attempting to keep people from seeing what was really going on so that he could remain in authority.

            Moses knew in his heart he was right with God.  He wasn’t caught up in some kind of power struggle.  He always sought the Lord and then obeyed whatever the Lord told him to do.


(Joyce Meyer)  Jesus was not moved by people’s rejection, nor was He moved by their acceptance.  He was moved by the Spirit of God.  (as was Moses)


Now, Moses says, “you have gone far enough!”


Numbers  16:16

            Moses tells Korah, Tomorrow, you and all your company be present before the Lord, as well as Aaron.  Let each take his censer and put incense in it and bring it before the Lord . . . So every man took his censer and put fire in it . . . And stood in the door of the tabernacle.


(the test was that now the 250 leaders along with Korah must do what only had been allowed for the priests to do. They must burn incense before the Lord.  Whoever could burn incense before the Lord without being destroyed would prove that he had been divinely chosen for the priesthood.


            People caught up in rebellion seem to forget that there are consequences for their choices.


            Surely, they remembered that two of Aaron’s sons died offering Strange Fire before the Lord which God had not commanded them to do.  (Leviticus 10:1)


            It is astonishing that Korah was so quick and ready to agree to this test.

Yet, sin has a way of blinding a person who has ignored truth long enough.


Romans 1:28 (NAB)

            And, just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind and let them do things that should never be done.


Isaiah 50:11 (Amp)

            Behold all ye (enemies of your own selves) who attempt to kindle your own fire (and work out your own plans of salvation) who surround and gird yourselves with momentary sparks, darts, and firebrands that you have set aflame - walk in the light of your self-made fire and by the sparks that you have kindled (for yourself, if you will).  But this you shall have from my hand, you shall lie down in grief and torment (or disappointment).


            The church is still trying to make God into our own image.


We are still offering strange fire to God in the churches today.  Wanting to do it our way.   Some of us come into the church and immediately think that they could do a better job running the ministry than the God-appointed leaders that are already doing it . . . Forgetting that God has set it up the way He wants it . . . Some people may actually be more gifted, even smarter, or more talented, and seemingly more appropriate for the job,  but if they are not called by God it would all be in vain. His anointing is on the ones He has chosen and that is what makes it work.  He will honor what He has established.  We would do well to submit to Him, allowing Him to be in control and be thankful for however He choses to use us.

            Others seem to still be content to only know The Lord from a far.  They attend church on Sundays . . . Even put their children in Christian schools . . . Yet go no further.

            We have seen pockets of revivals or mighty moves of God through the years but they are short lived . . . Somehow we always seem to lose it.  The enemy gets in somehow and divides and splits the people.  We need to strengthen our defenses and stand together as the true body of Christ, because those pockets of times of revival and mighty moves of God should not be short lived events, they should  be our norm.

            There is a lot that we need to unlearn.  Things well meaning people teaching out of their beliefs and understanding have deposited into us that need to be cleared out, along with our own self-learned ideas.  It is a new season, a new day and we need surrendered hearts before the Lord allowing Him to retrain and prepare us for the times we are facing.  This world is getting darker by the day and we are going to have to have an up close and personal relationship with Him in order to survive.  



Isaiah 50:11 (again, with modified commentary by John Gill)

            Behold all ye that kindle a fire

To enlighten and warm yourselves; who, rejecting Christ, the light of the world, and despising the glorious light of His gospel, and loving darkness rather than light,  . . . 


Set up reason and practice; 

or the traditions and doctrines of men to be guided by; 

or your own righteousness for your justification before God and acceptance with Him.


That compass yourselves about with sparks

. . . Which have little light and no heat and are soon out; which may show the short lived pleasures and comforts which are had  . . . From anything of man’s own:


Walk in the light of your fire, and in the spark that ye have kindled

. . . Take all the comfort and satisfaction you can in your own works and doings, and get all the heat you can from it . . . Because


This shall ye have of mine hand;

Which you may depend upon receiving from Me, for rejecting Me and My righteousness and trusting in you own;

Ye shall lie down in sorrow (or disappointment) . . .”



Yet even this is to bring us to the end of ourselves so that we are able to enter into the fullness of Him. 




Francis Frangipagne said this:


            “At times during conferences leaders will ask, ‘what’s the name of the primary spirit resisting the church in our area?’ I reply, ‘The name of the Spirit opposing the efforts of many Christians is Yahweh.’  

            They look puzzled until I explain:  James 4:6 says, ‘God resists the proud but He gives grace to the humble.  

            So unless we humble ourselves the main Spirit opposing our efforts will be the Almighty.  But if we go deep, if we uproot pride, the Lord promises to give grace to the humble.  He will empower the meek.



            Now God tells Moses and Aaron to separate themselves from this congregation so the He could consume them in a moment.


            V.22  Moses and Aaron fall on their faces pleading for the people.


            So God warns Moses to let the assembly know to move away from Korah, Dathan, and Abiram and the tents of these wicked men!  God says “touch nothing of theirs lest you be consumed in all their sins . . . So they move away.


Then a terrifying event takes place


            V. 28 - 35 - Moses says, “this is how you will know the Lord has sent me . . . And that it was not my idea.  If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me.  


            But if the Lord brings about something totally new and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them and everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt!  


            As soon as he finished saying all of this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened it’s mouth and swallowed them and their households and all associated with Korah, together with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community.


(the words were barely out of Moses’ mouth and the Lord moved according to His servant’s words.)


And, fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering incense.



            V.41-48  Complaints of the people


(personally I think, if I had witnessed all of these terrible things, I would lay low for a while, but . . . )

            On the very next day all of the congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron saying, “you have killed the people of the Lord . . . And suddenly the cloud covered the tabernacle and the glory of the Lord appeared.  (yet again) God tells Moses and Aaron to get away from this congregation, that He may consume them in a moment.


            Again they fall to their faces before the Lord for the lives of the people.


            Moses tells Aaron to take a censer and put fire in it from the altar, put incense on it and to take it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them; for the wrath has gone out from the Lord.

The Plague has begun


            Aaron (risking his life here, God could have wiped him out as well) did as Moses commanded and ran into the midst of the assembly and made atonement for the people.


            Aaron stood between the dead and the living, so the plague was stopped.  14,700 died besides those who died in Korah’s incident.


            We can easily see that Moses was a type and shadow of Christ . . . He had a heart God could use . . . There is no doubt that God tested Moses all along the way and Moses remained faithful.  All the 40 years in the wilderness with this complaining, hard headed, rebellious, ungrateful people Moses and Aaron still dearly loved the people.  The congregation blamed them for everything that they were unhappy with, and they wouldn’t come to Moses’ aid when he had to deal with Korah’s rebellion. Yet, he was still willing to lay his life down for them over and over again.  Moses was a mediator between God and the people.  God loved Moses. (Do we, in all truth, not do the same thing today to our Savior?)


            Just one time in these 40 years Moses gets angry with the people and disobeys God.


In Exodus 17:6

            God commanded Moses to strike the rock to make water flow in the desert for the people and their livestock who were in need of water.  When Moses did as God commanded, God provided the water.


This time in Numbers 20:8

            God tells Moses to speak to the rock promising to make water flow in the desert again.  But, instead Moses gets angry with the people and strikes the rock . . . Nothing happens so he strikes it again and water comes forth and the people and livestock are watered once again.


For this reason Moses was barred by God from entering the promised land.


            V.12 - The Lord said to Moses and Aaron because you did not trust me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.


Nehemiah 9:21 - In spite of it all -

            For 40 years the Lord sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.


            Moses and Aaron die in the wilderness, and Joshua takes the people into the Promised Land.


(taking a little rabbit trail here and will come back and finish with the Sons of Korah)


            At the Mt. Of Transfiguration, God did allow Moses to enter the promised land.  He stood in the promised land with the Promise, Jesus Christ!  What an honor!


            But Moses was there for more than just that.  He was there representing the law with Elijah, who represented the prophets.  Some of the  disciples were there representing the new covenant.  So we see represented here. the law (Moses), the prophet (Isaiah), the fulfillment of the law and the prophet (Christ), and the new covenant (the disciples).


            Interestingly, the disciples wanted to build a tent for Moses, Elijah, and Christ.  They wanted to hold on to the old to some degree, even though the Promise was now with them.  Still wanting to hold on just a little bit to the law, and the familiar.  Still wanting to do it their way just a little bit.  No different than the Church is today.


Sons of Korah

            The story does not end with the death of Korah, in fact you might say it was the beginning.


Numbers 26:11 (NASB)

            (only) The sons of Korah, however, did not die (that day).  It doesn’t say why God spared them but He did.  


            God judged those that rebelled against Him and purified His people but He still had a plan and purpose for the line of Korah.


            The prophet Samuel came from the line of Korah.


            God’s redemption, grace and mercy whispers through this story as we take a glimpse at the Son’s of Korah and how they faithfully served the Lord all the days of their lives.  God restored their inheritance and all that was lost by Korah.


1 Chronicles 12:6 - tells us that one group of the Sons of Korah gained the reputation of becoming expert warriors under the leadership of King David.


            Although they excelled in many of their services, probably the most remarkable thing to mention about them during the time of King David was their abilities as leaders of vocal and instrumental music in the tabernacle and temple.


They were great worship leaders


            King David also organized and utilized their gifts of music and prophesy.


            They actually lived in the chambers of the tabernacle and temple.  They were free or excused from any other service because they were responsible for singing before the Lord day and night.


            There are some scholars that say that David actually wrote all of these Psalms and that the Sons of Korah had a book of Psalms written by David that they used in their worship services.


            Others give total credit to the Sons of Korah, claiming that of all the Psalms, about 25 are written by the Sons of Korah, which include Psalms 42-49, 50, 62, and 72-85. 


            I believe that anyone that spent day and night worshipping and prophesying unto The Lord would bring forth fresh new songs and words of prophecy directly from God Himself.  Their ears had to be listening to God’s heart.  


            In these Psalms we find a spirit of enormous gratitude and humbleness before the Almighty.  Such as:


Psalms 42:1 - which says “as the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for you, O, God.”  


Psalms 84:1 states, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O God.”


Psalms 46:1-3 Says. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,  . . . The Almighty is with us.“  (Wonder if they were remembering what their ancestors had done).




And, of course there is Psalms 45:1 - where my study started      


(A love song)


            V1 - My heart overflows with good news.  I speak of the things I have made touching the King:  My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.


            In other words, my tongue is that of an articulate scribe writing well thought out, passionate words from the heart!


            The Lord honored the Sons of Korah by giving them words straight from the heart of God to prophesy of the coming Christ and His Bride in this awesome Psalm.


            For many centuries the Sons of Korah faithfully served in the house of God, becoming an example for the people of Israel and Judah.


            Their tongues indeed became the pen of a poet and these psalmists wrote some of the greatest Psalms of all time.



The Sons of Korah are a picture of what pleases God.


“They are a sight for Sore eyes.”


And, God’s eyes were happy to see them!




Sandy Steele, June, 2013

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