Semi Retired Pastor Jeremy Stopford
A STUDY IN THE ASCENT PSALMS
This is Study #15 of our insights into the “Ascent Psalms” – Psalms 120-134! Each one of these studies has drawn us to a vivid realization that we are on a sojourn, a journey, a walk with the Lord with the end of the journey being, well, HIM! In ancient days, the Jews were either heading back to Jerusalem from captivity OR they were headed to Jerusalem for specific feast days. In either case, the end result was the presence of God in Jerusalem.
Our theme verse has been Psalm 84:5, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.” (Psalm 84:5 NKJV). Have you learned our theme verse yet?
TODAY WE ARE IN PSALM 134
Psalm 134 New King James Version (NKJV)
A Song of Ascents.
1 Behold, bless the Lord,
All you servants of the Lord,
Who by night stand in the house of the Lord!
2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary,
And bless the Lord.
3 The Lord who made heaven and earth
Bless you from Zion!
Our valuable scholar, Dr. Graham Scroggie, entitles this psalm “Blessing and Blessed”.
I have created a most simple outline:
1. In the House of the Lord, v. 1
2. In the Sanctuary of the Lord, v. 2
3. In the City of the Lord, v. 3
There are SOME INTERESTING INSIGHTS we all can glean from this wonderful psalm!
FIRST, did you notice how many times the word “bless” is used in these 3 verses: Yes, 3 times! First, in verse 1 we are instructed that the servants of the LORD should be blessing the LORD! Isn’t that a good reminder? Have you ever gone into a project and thought, “I wonder what PEOPLE will think of me if I do this? Or present this? Or say this? Or NOT do this? What will PEOPLE think of ME? ME? ME?
The psalmist lovingly reminds us that the ONE to be blessed is not ME (although, as a by-product, we should be “blessed” for doing a project with the right motive, shouldn’t we?). Rather, the One Who should be “blessed” is the One Who should be the One for Whom anything is done! Isn’t that what Paul says to the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 10:31b, “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”. Wow!
Second, in verse 2, we are directed to bless the Lord in the sanctuary. The psalmist is instructing the reader to remember a most important truth: that every moment is to be a moment of worship! EVERY moment! And then in verse 3, the third use of “bless” is seeking the blessing of the One Who is the Creator of all things! That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? Kinda puts us in our place!
I like what Paul says in his doctrinal treatise to the brethren in Rome, particularly in Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…”. God’s creation – and His wonderful design on display in it – purposely draws every man, woman, boy and girl of all eternity to His Lordship.
IF that Lordship is NOT recognized, that individual is “without excuse” when he or she appears before the Lord “in that day”. But IF that Lordship IS recognized, the Lord in His grace lovingly points the seeker to the One Who is the Creator Himself – even the Lord Jesus – and gives further revelation in the WRITTEN Word that Jesus died for the sinner, and His death, burial, and resurrection is on the sinner’s behalf – the only substitute for sin that God will eternally honor. “BLESS THE LORD!”
SECOND, it would be easy to overlook that little phrase in verse 1: “you servants of the Lord WHO BY NIGHT stand in the house of the Lord”. Why does the psalmist share that insight? Wouldn’t it have been sufficient simply to say, “bless the Lord all you servants of the Lord” and add nothing to it? Perhaps the answer to that question is found in the phrase “WHO BY NIGHT”.
Listen to the first part of Exodus 27:21, where Moses is giving instructions concerning the service of the temple: “In the tabernacle of meeting, outside the veil which is before the Testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it FROM EVENING UNTIL MORNING before the Lord…”.
Answer me this: who is going to see them? Not me – I’ll be in bed! How about you? You, too, sleep at night? Hmmm. So the only One Who will see them is…THE LORD HIMSELF! Why is this important to the psalmist? Because the psalmist is reminding us that there are MANY servants of the Lord who serve Him in various functions – most of them unnoticed by man – but they ARE noticed by the Lord Himself! That just thrills my soul, because I really AM a blessing to Him! Wow! “BLESS THE LORD IN MY OBSCURITY!”
THIRD, Who is “the Lord” in this psalm? He is none other than “Jehovah” [“YHVH”). Why is THAT of particular interest? Because that Name for God refers to the One Who is both merciful and condescending to His creation. This Name tells the reader that God should be blessed because, well, He FIRST blessed us!
Again, what does the New Testament say so well, “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). How about “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…” (Romans 5:8). The Lord of this psalm is the One Who sees us as we are, and yet comes down to where we are. We in turn should, got it?, BLESS HIM WHO IS MERCIFUL!
FINALLY, did you notice the different ways God is referred to? In verse 1, He has a house where His children – His redeemed family – can bless Him! Oh my! Did Hebrews 10:25 come quickly to your minds too? “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
His redeemed family should be blessing Him together, encouraging one another, lifting each other up in prayer and support. In verse 2, we are instructed to “lift your hands” while blessing the Lord in the sanctuary. Is that an instruction on HOW to worship? Is it telling me that I MUST lift my hands in order to properly worship our great God? OR is it more than just a physical teaching?
Perhaps God is telling us that the “lifting of the hands” is an outward sign of an inward humbling before the One Who only is to be praised! And then notice verse 3, Who is the Lord here? Why, He is the Maker of “heaven and earth”. HE should be blessed. But here it is HE WHO does the blessing! Wow!
AS WE CONCLUDE OUR STUDY in the Ascent Psalms, I have been most challenged – haven’t you? I am on a journey, a pilgrimage! The Lord Himself is directing me, following me, and is the “End Result” of my lifelong walk!
And if I’m REALLY alert, I will notice that there are MANY OTHERS on this journey. The Bible says that God has placed an hunger for Him in the hearts of every one who has every had breath. That hunger can only be met in Him. So the journey begins at the very moment we took our first breath! And, yes, “from dust to dust” we will breathe to walk with Him through faith in His cross!
ARE YOU STILL BREATHING? You’re reading Dr. Becker’s website, aren’t you? Then you are still on the journey! You are still on your pilgrimage!
MAY THE LORD BE BLESSED in your journey with Him today!