11/10/2017 : Psalm 134 | Final of the Psalms of Ascent | Timothy Rist
Psalm 134 (NRSV)
Praise in the Night
A Song of Ascents.
1 Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
2 Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the Lord.
3 May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Psalm 134 (MSG)
A Pilgrim Song
1-3 Come, bless God, all you servants of God! You priests of God, posted to the nightwatch in God’s shrine,
Lift your praising hands to the Holy Place, and bless God.
In turn, may God of Zion bless you—God who made heaven and earth!
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
This is the final Psalm of the Psalms of Ascent!
The journey began with Psalm 120, and as the travelers left their homes on their pilgrimage – they sang and praised God! They remembered His love for them, they celebrated His power and majesty reflected in the creation that surrounded them; and they encouraged each other to keep going and to courageously persevere in the face of the many dangers on the road. Step by step, Psalm by Psalm, they journeyed to the Temple.
Take a moment to reflect on your personal journey through the Psalms. Is there a Psalm that spoke to you, more than any other? Why?
The worshippers have spent their time on the Temple, taken part in services of worship and sacrifice – and now the time has come to make their long journey home.
Charles Spurgeon writes the following about Psalm 134:
“The Pilgrims are going home, and are singing the last song in their psalter. They leave early in the morning, before the day has fully commenced, for the journey is long for many of them. While yet the night lingers they are on the move. As soon as they are outside the gates they see the guards upon the temple wall, and the lamps shining from the windows of the chambers which surround the sanctuary; therefore, moved by the sight, they chant a farewell to the perpetual attendants upon the holy shrine. Their parting exhortation arouses the priests to pronounce upon them a blessing out of the holy place: this benediction is contained in the third verse. The priests as good as say, “You have desired us to bless the Lord, and now we pray the Lord to bless you.”
The Psalm teaches us to pray for those who are continually ministering before the Lord, and it invites all ministers to pronounce benedictions upon their loving and prayerful people.”[i]
The word “Come” is both an invitation and a command extended not to the general pilgrims or worshippers, but to the Priests and Levites on duty during the night hours.
- 1 Chronicles 9:32-33 (NIV)
32 Some of the Kohathites, their fellow Levites, were in charge of preparing for every Sabbath the bread set out on the table.
33 Those who were musicians, heads of Levite families, stayed in the rooms of the temple and were exempt from other duties because they were responsible for the work day and night.
“Bless the Lord”: is an instruction to them to keep focused and occupied with the work at hand. They must not let their thoughts, nor attention waver from the privileged work of praising God! Stay awake and alert!
“Servants ….Who stand by night”: the word “stand” means the one who is appointed to serve God.
- Deuteronomy 10:8 (NIV)
8 At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister and to pronounce blessings in his name, as they still do today.
Maclaren’s Expository explains it this way:
“According to the authorities [Rabbinical texts], two hundred and forty priests and Levites were the nightly guard, distributed over twenty-one stations. The captain of the guard visited these stations throughout the night with flaming torches before him, and saluted each with ‘Peace be unto thee.’ If he found the sentinel asleep he beat him with his staff, and had authority to burn his cloak [which the drowsy guard had rolled up for a pillow]. We all remember who warned His disciples to watch, lest coming suddenly He should find them asleep.”[ii]
“Lift up your hands” be busy and preoccupied with the energetic work of praising God with “heart and hands and voices”. They are to bless men and women with their preaching and teaching, but more than that they are to bless God with all their being.
The response from the Priests and Levites echoes down to the departing pilgrims – may the Lord bless you on your journey and remember He is the Lord of all creation!
This blessing is based on the Priestly blessing:
Numbers 6:23-27 (NIV)
23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
24 “‘“The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’
27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Come bless the Lord, (Come bless the Lord,)
All ye servants of the Lord, (All ye servants of the Lord,)
Who stand by night, (Who stand by night,)
In the house of the Lord. (In the house of the Lord.)
Lift up your hands, (Lift up your hands,)
In the Holy Place, (In the Holy Place,)
And bless the Lord. (And bless the Lord.)
And bless the Lord. (And bless the Lord.)
[i] Charles Spurgeon: “Treasury of David”: http://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=spur&b=19&c=134
[ii] Taken from – http://biblehub.com/commentaries/psalms/134-1.htm