As we get ready to enter the Lord’s courts of prayer and praise today, we turn to the fifteenth and final psalm in the series of “songs of degree” (or ascent), Psalm 134. These songs of God’s OT church, you will remember, were sung by God’s pilgrim people as they made their way “up to” Jerusalem for the special times of worship designated by the Lord. As such, they are also appropriate for us, God’s NT church, as we journey through this world on our way to the new and heavenly Jerusalem (Heb.12:22-24).
This final song of ascent is also very brief, like the previous one (Psalm 133), but it too is a significant song. It may be viewed as a farewell song by the worshiping church as she takes her leave of God’s holy city and temple and returns to her regular life. Let’s put this inspired Word of God before us so that we too may learn to sing it, both in our preparing for and in our ending of public worship:
Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord.
2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.
3 The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.
You will note that the psalm has two basic parts. In the first part, the people of God address the “servants of the LORD”, namely the priest and Levites who labored all day and all night in God’s covenant house. Realizing that the priestly prayers to and the priestly praise of the Lord must never cease, the church calls these special servants of the Lord to continue their work even after the people have left and the sun has gone down. “Bless ye the LORD”; “Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD,” they shout.
In making this call to the priests, the people of God are deeply conscious of two things. First, that God is always to be praised and continually acknowledged to be the Fountain of all blessing. And second, that they themselves are in constant need to the Lord’s blessing.
Are we also conscious of these things? Are we likewise desirous that God’s special servants involved in public worship today – our pastors and elders – will continue to bless the Lord through prayer and praise when we have left the Lord’s sanctuary and have returned to our week of labor? When our public worship is finished and we take leave of the house of the Lord, do we still want them to pray for us and seek the blessing the Lord on our behalf? Then do we also remind them of their labors for us and call them to fulfill it? Do we also bring their needs before God during the week, so that they may carry on their vital work of blessing the Lord? We must, as the example of these OT pilgrims shows us!
And extending this now to our great High Priest in heaven, Jesus Christ, do we desire Him above all to continue His labors on our behalf in glory and bless the Lord? Do we covet His prayers for us that we will be blessed by the ever blessed God and Father? And so then, do we also call on Christ (in our own prayers) to keep standing in the Lord’s house in heaven and bless Him day and night? Do we call Him to praise God for us in perfect prayer and worship? If our hearts are full of praise and thanks to God from our own worship on the Lord’s day, then we will!
In the second part of Psalm 134 the priests respond back to the call of God’s people and convey the sure blessing of the Lord on them: “The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion” (v.3). That was important for them to hear, for without that blessing of the Lord all their special worship and all their earthly service was in vain. They – and we – need that favor of God in Christ on us and the gifts of His grace on us, or life is vanity, and even worse, cursed.
Do we understand that today? Will we seek and listen for that blessing of God in Christ on us as we worship? Will we hear our blessed and only High Priest, Jesus Christ, speak and convey that blessing on us this day? Will receive in faith His blessed gifts of salvation?
When we do, we may leave our places of public worship in joy and thanksgiving, with hearts and mouths overflowing with the blessing of the Lord. God bless your and my worship this Lord’s day!
If you wish to meditate on this psalm through the music of the Psalter, I encourage you to make use of this versification, Ps.#372. The lyrics are posted here; the music you may find at the link provided.
1. Come, all ye servants of the Lord,
Lift up your voice with one accord
Jehovah’s Name to bless;
Ye that are standing night by night
Within the house of His delight,
His glorious Name confess.
2. Yea, in His place of holiness
Lift up your hands the Lord to bless;
And unto you be given,
The joys that Zion doth afford,
The richest blessings of the Lord
Who made the earth and heaven.