4/28/20

Tom Lowe

 

Psalm 134 (KJV)

 TITLE: Praise the Lord, All You Servants

Psalm 134

1{A Song of degrees.} Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD.

2Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and bless the LORD.

3The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.

 

 

Background

The pilgrim has arrived. He has reached his destination, and now he expresses his gratitude by lifting his voice in praise to the Lord and singing this little gem of a song along with the multitude of his fellow pilgrims. This is the grand amen.

This is a short psalm, but it deals with a massive subject, worshipping the Lord and sharing His blessings with others ─117 is the shortest ─but it deals with a subject that could fill volumes.

It has been suggested by Leslie that this is a “vigil liturgy,” a night hymn of spiritual preparation for the Festival of Tabernacles.

The psalm closes the collection of fifteen psalms which compose the unit titled "Songs of Ascents" or "Songs of degrees." It is a benediction that leads into a series of songs that emphasize praising the Lord. The inferences we draw from this psalm ought to encourage us in our pilgrim journey and make us a blessing to others.

 

Commentary

1. {A Song of degrees.} Behold {1], bless ye the LORD (to magnify and praise the Lord), all ye servants of the LORD, which by night (the nights of the festival) stand in the house of the LORD.

Again, I want to remind you that this pilgrim has come from a place where he is always under suspicion. People criticized him, maligned him, and lied about him. He did not live in a good neighborhood. But what a celebration there must have been when he arrived in Jerusalem with his friends and family. Now he is standing in the sanctuary (v. 2), lifting his hands and blessing the Lord.

“Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD.” It is the Lord’s servants who are best prepared equipped to render to Him the praise and blessing that belong to His holy name.

Go back and review these 15 psalms, and you will find that the pilgrims had a variety of experiences on their journey. Still, they arrived safely in the holy city, fulfilled their obligations, and were now preparing to return home. It was night, and they wanted to make one last visit to the temple. Under the direction of the high priest, the temple priests and Levites were responsible for making sure that everything was in order for the next day's ministry. They also checked the building to see that nothing dangerous or defiling had got past the doorkeepers and was hidden in the sacred precincts. Their service was essential for they had the very important duty of guarding the gate. These sentinels must stand at the gate and keep a watchful eye on everything that came in and went out of the city. Their job was to see that nothing was allowed into the holy city that might bring down the displeasure of God.

So, the watchmen (guards, sentinels) had an important task. They were responsible to see that the city was kept undefiled, in keeping with a place where God chose to dwell. 

The spiritual application of all this is obvious. We need to keep a close watch on our eyes, ears, mouths to make sure that nothing comes in and out of our lives that might displease the indwelling Spirit of God.

The pilgrims heard a holy choir singing the praises of Jehovah, and their ministry would continue all night. Pagan temples were silent at night because their gods had to rest (1 Ki. 18:27), but "He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" (121:3-4). The Lord gives sleep to His beloved people, but He stays awake and guards the city and watches over the family (127:1-2). He also hears the praises of His people.  If God never slumbers nor sleeps, why should we stay awake all night, tossing and turning and worrying? "Be still and know that I am God" (46:10).

In verse 1, the priest reminds the congregation of why they were there, to worship God. He gives them the instruction that all who are Yahweh’s servants, who are to continue or stand in this house through the nights of the festival, should bless Yahweh.

Are you wondering, “Who are these ‘servants of the LORD?’” These servants are the priests, who minister in the temple, day and night! (Chron.  9:33; 23:28-31). In this case, perhaps the evening service is wrapping up and the participants, as they leave are encouraging the priests who remain behind on the night shift.

When he finished giving instructions to the worshippers, the priest pronounces a blessing upon them before leaving them to their private and corporate devotions.

 

2. Lift up your hands {2] in the sanctuary and bless the LORD.

Regardless of how many trips he has made to Jerusalem, it is always a fresh experience to stand in the sanctuary of the temple and feel His presence as he raises his hands and thanks the Lord for giving Him a safe journey.

 

3. The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.

The pilgrim blesses God, and in turn, he is looking for the blessing of God to be upon his life. This is a great worship song and one that should be incorporated into our worship.

The blessing {3] is upon the entire congregation, and on each individual member of it: “The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.” It is a blessing which refers both to Yahweh’s Presence in the Temple on Zion and to His authority as the maker of “heaven and earth.” We are to bless the Lord “who made heaven and earth.” Every sun and star in space, every blade of grass, every stick and stone on earth—He made them all. That is why the psalmist urges us to bless Him. He doesn’t ask us here to serve Him, but to bless Him, to worship Him.

“Bless thee out of Zion” {4] tells us where our answer comes from: out of Zion, out of the place where the Lord had put His name. It is impossible for us to bless God without having Him bless us. The God who has the genius to create a galaxy and who has the grace to come and live among his people is surely a God who knows how to bless us. What more can we ask than that?

Since this is the closing verse of the psalm, it contains the concluding thought of the series “Songs of Degrees.” It is a prayer for God’s blessing; and it may have been the prayer of the pilgrims directed to the priests. Or perhaps Psalm 134 was used as a dialog where the community would recite the first two verses and a designated priest would respond with the blessing in verse 3.

From the day He called Abraham and gave him His covenant (Gen.12:1-3), God has blessed the nations because of the Jewish people, for they have given us the knowledge of the true and living God as well as the gifts of the Word of God and the Savior.

 

Notes:

[1} Behold! —Evidentially, the matter is pressing, and arises from the immediate circumstances of the moment. How eager are God’s faithful that God should be loved and adored! Night is no reason to stop praising Him.

[2} Lift up your hands describes the customary posture for prayer (28:2; 141:2; Lam. 2:19; 1Tim. 2:8). This may also represent the gesture of the priests when pronouncing a blessing upon the people. Paul wrote in 1Timothy 2:8, “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath or doubting.” But it must be done with pure and holy hearts.

[3} Priests alone are permitted to announce the blessing of the Lord upon the worshippers.

[4} “Out of Zion,” where God dwells, and from where He hears the prayers of His people and gives them the blessings which they desire and need.