“LORD, bless Your pastors and bless Your people”
A Psalm of Instruction
Psalm 134 Behold, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who by night stand in the house of the LORD! Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD. The LORD who made heaven and earth bless you from Zion!
The psalm brings the Songs of Ascents collection to its conclusion. It may be thought of as a closing doxology. The psalm consists of two parts: 1) a call from those outside the temple (the people) to those inside (the priests) to praise and thank the Lord in their name for mercies bestowed on them (vv. 1-2); and 2) a response from those inside the temple who ask God to pour out His blessings on those who have addressed them (v. 3).
This psalm was very suitable for use by the pilgrim-bands. Oftentimes they would arrive at the city of Jerusalem late in the day. After proceeding to the temple gate, they would announce their arrival to the priests who were on night-duty and who would be expecting them. They would call on the priests to “bless the Lord” for His grace in conducting them safely to Jerusalem. The priests in turn would call on the Lord to bless the Jewish pilgrims through their worship of Him during the up-coming festival.
“Now this psalm, being placed here at the end of the series, bids us look back and trace, in the psalms that have gone before, the manifold reasons wherefore we should bless the Lord. The first of these psalms, Ps. 120, tells of deliverance from cruel enemies; Ps. 121, of God’s continual preservation of his people; Ps. 122, of joy and delight realized in the worship of the Lord; Ps. 123, of waiting continually upon God in times of trouble; Ps. 124, of deliverance from fierce foes; Ps. 125, of experience of God’s guardian care; Ps. 126, of the joy of God’s salvation; Ps. 127, of the Lord alone being our sure Keeper; Ps. 128, of God’s grace and goodness sweetening the home; Ps. 129, of afflictions many, but of preservation in them all; Ps. 130, of God’s blessed uplifting; Ps. 131, of the souls kept in the peace of God; Ps. 132, of the prosperity of the Church; and Ps. 133, of her unity; and now in Ps. 134 there is, as there well may be, the command to bless the Lord. What a long list it is of mercies, and help, and deliverance, and blessing unspeakable! If men will look back along their lives, they too will bless the Lord.” (Pulpit Commentary, Psalms, Vol. III, p. 276)
To this we would add, before closing, that we also have wonderful reason to bless the Lord as we look ahead to the future. Though our journey as pilgrims in this world of sin has not yet reached its end (there are miles remaining to travel, hills to climb, valleys to pass through, uncharted territory to traverse before we reach our destination), our eventual entrance into the New Jerusalem is assured because of Jesus and His saving work in our behalf. With our faith anchored solidly in Him, we may confidently affirm with Paul: “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”
What a Day it will be! Then we’ll experience fullness of joy and pleasures at God’s right hand forevermore! Until then may our prayer be:
Jerusalem, thou city fair and high, Would God I were in thee! My longing heart fain, fain, to thee would fly, It will not stay with me. Far over vale and mountain, Far over field and plain, It hastes to seek its Fountain And leave this world of pain. O happy day and yet far happier hour, When wilt thou come at last, When fearless to my Father’s love and pow’r, Whose promise standeth fast, My soul I gladly render? For surely will His hand Lead her with guidance tender To heav’n, her fatherland. And when within that lovely Paradise At last I safely dwell, What songs of bliss shall from my lips arise, What joy my tongue shall tell, While all the saints are singing Hosannas o’er and o’er, Pure hallelujahs ringing Around me evermore! (TLH 619:1,2,7)
(We thank Pastor Thomas Schuetze for this series of edifying studies of the “Song of Ascent” psalms. — Ed.)