As Joshua prepared the children of Israel to cross over the Jordan river into the promised land, God instructed Joshua that the Levitical Priests should go before the army with the ark on their shoulders. The priests are worshippers, singers and musicians and were the designated carriers of the presence of God. “Joshua also instructed the people to consecrate themselves as the Lord would do wonders among them” (Joshua 3:5). Joshua also told the people, that as soon as they saw the ark of the covenant of the Lord, being carried by the Priests, that they should set out and follow them.
“and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), The waters coming down from above rose up in a heap very far away and the waters flowing down to the sea was completely cut off; and the people passed over opposite Jericho” (Joshua 3:15-16). What is amazing for me to read, is that the Priests did not wait for the waters to be cut off before stepping forward. They stepped forward in faith and as they moved, God dried up the water. They were acting on the evidence of faith not seen.
It is interesting for me the significance which the Levites held in the Old Testament. We also see at other times in scripture, where the worshippers and singers went ahead of an army going into battle. Their worship in advance showed their confidence in God to bring victory. We maintain the understanding that the presence of the Lord goes ahead of us, to secure victory as our worship and praise situates us within the presence of God. Praise is an act of gratitude towards God for his goodness and faithfulness. “to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3).