Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge, and with all kinds of skills.’Exodus 31: 1 – 3
We aren’t told too much about Bezalel, but we do get this wonderful declaration from God Himself of how He has filled the man with everything he is going to need for his very important work. And as we see in the next few chapters of Exodus, Bezalel proves faithful to the task, and puts his skills to effective use, building and crafting the Tabernacle, the physical centre of worship for the people of God for around 500 years up to the construction of the Temple.
You might think that all that was needed for this job would be a great craftsman, someone with woodworking, metalworking and needlework skills. And Bezalel has these skills – or perhaps God simply gave them to him without him having to go down the usual apprenticeship route! But as well as knowledge and skills, in fact before knowledge and skills, Bezalel is going to need the Holy Spirit, wisdom, and understanding. Does this not sound exactly like the sort of priority list we want when leading worship today?
Let’s take a brief look at this five fold filling. First Bezalel is filled with the Spirit of God. This is without doubt the first and most important foundation to all genuine worship leading. If we are going to worship in Spirit and in truth, which Jesus describes as essential in John 4:24, then we must first be filled with the Spirit. We must make this our prayer as we prepare to worship, and not only for public worship but every day as we come before the Lord in private praise and prayer.
Secondly he is filled with wisdom. I trust we are reading the Old Testament with the desire to see Jesus in it as much as possible. When I read that Bezalel was filled with wisdom, I am thinking that Jesus is the wisdom of God. Paul makes this very clear in 1 Corinthians 1:24 – ‘Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God’. Jesus is the embodiment of the wisdom of God, He is the fulfilment of all the books of wisdom, and He is ‘one greater than Solomon (Matthew 12:42). So if we ask God for wisdom, we are asking for more of Jesus.
While I think of wisdom as the eternal unchanging attribute of our Lord, when we are filled with understanding we learn to apply that wisdom into our personal situation, rooted in a time and a place. The deeper we go into the word of God, the more we will grow in wisdom, and the more we will understand what God is doing in our meetings (and in our lives) and be able to direct the worship into praise, intimacy, exaltation or intercession, as He leads.
Fourthly, Bezalel receives the fullness of knowledge. He knows everything there is to know about gold, bronze, acacia wood, leather, linen, and how to craft these materials into objects of worship. Our knowledge is likely to consist of songs and scriptures that we know will help people come into the presence of God. God has given us wonderful brains, and we will be storing songs in our memories, for example, according to themes, groups in the same or related keys, and by loudness, suitability for the instruments available, and in many more ways. This knowledge is built up with experience, and is invaluable.
Finally, we come to the skills needed. In many ways this is the only one of the fillings that will be visible on a Sunday morning. In my book I refer to this as a sort of iceberg principle: not that our shared worship is cold of course, but that it is only a small fraction of our worship week. It is important to develop our skills, improve our guitar playing, train our singers, learn tags and links, descants and harmonies, etc. But if we are not filled with the Holy Spirit, with wisdom and with understanding, then mere knowledge and skills may look good, but will lack the depth and reality we long for.