David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals. Here is the list of the men who performed this service (emphasis added):

1 Chronicles 25:1 (NIV)

We read much about people prophesying in the Bible, but what does it mean? Does it mean everyone we read about who prophesied spoke about the future? Let’s look up the definition of “prophesy” and see if it means something else.

According to Merriam-Webster, we get these additional meanings behind “prophesy:”

1: to speak as if divinely inspired

2: to give instruction in religious matters: PREACH

Merriam-Webster – prophesy

Therefore, when we consider the definition of “prophesy,” we can understand that Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun weren’t appointed as musicians to forecast the future but to edify the Lord. This is why Asaph and Heman have psalms attributed to them, and Jeduthun is named at the beginning of a few psalms. 

Consider what it means to prophesy and then read what Paul wrote to the Corinthians about Spiritual gifts.

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.

1 Corinthians 14:1 (NIV)

Paul wasn’t just discussing foreseeing the future as much as he said every Christian should desire to edify the Lord and his people through sacred preaching. This is why everyone who preaches should also be a prophet. After all, how does it profit (pun intended) others when someone preaches a message that doesn’t edify God or instruct those who hear the message? Everyone loves a good story, but what’s the point behind a testimony if it’s just entertainment? 

We should go to church (the building) to share in fellowship with the church (the people) and to be instructed in the Word by the Word. When we worship, we should worship to glorify God, not to entertain or be entertained.

So, when we read about someone prophesying in the Bible, most of the time, it’s not someone predicting the future. Instead, it’s someone edifying God. Although, as we know, many prophets in the Bible also foretold the future.