1 A song of ascents.
Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD who minister by night in the house of the LORD.
2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD.
3 May the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.
Psalm 134 – Prayer, praise and blessing
(Verse 1) Psalm 134 is the fifteenth and last ‘song of ascents’ sung by the Israelite pilgrims en route to Mount Zion’s temple. They have arrived! This three-verse psalm marks that event. The pilgrims now address all the ‘servants of the LORD who minister by night in the house of the LORD’. Who are these ‘servants of the LORD’? They are the priests and the Levites. The priests are the descendants of Aaron, the first priest. They operate for a limited time unless they die earlier. They conduct worship and offer the various sacrifices, all of which are now fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in His work on the cross when He bore our sins and paid our penalty. We now are cleansed, forgiven, and enjoy fellowship with God, as a result. Jesus became our Great High Priest forever. The Bible teaches He is the final priest. He lives today to continue as our Priest. We need no other priest to represent us before God, and no more sacrifice to be offered. Jesus, the last priest, gave Himself, the last sacrifice, on the cross, the last altar. Though some churches still call ministers ‘priests’, Jesus is the only way to come to God for pardon, eternal life, and fellowship. (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). He ‘is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.’ (You can read about this in Hebrews 4:14 to 5:10, and 6:13 to 7:28.) The Levites maintained the temple and its contents, prepared offerings, and helped the priests. When the tabernacle was used pre-temple, they carried the tabernacle and its contents from one place to another. It seems that the first and second verses record the pilgrims’ appreciation of the temple servants who enable them to worship there. They are especially grateful that these men work through the night. Our caring Great High Priest, The Lord Jesus Christ, watches over us and listens to us every second of time. The third verse records the priests’ final blessing on the pilgrims who travelled to worship God together at Zion. The born-again sinner worships God because our High Priest was also our final and complete sacrifice for our sins, when He bore God’s wrath against sin on the cross for us, as He gave Himself for us. He blesses us greatly.
(Verse 2) Lifting up of hands in prayer and praise was a physical feature of some Old Testament prayer and worship. It was also used as a picture of prayer. It is similarly used in 1 Timothy 2:8 where Paul says he wants ‘men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing’. The physical attitude of the body is secondary, but we must regularly pray to God and praise Him together. Daily each of us should do that, read the Bible and pray its teachings into the way we live our lives.
(Verse 3) Again we are reminded that the One to whom we pray, in the name of Jesus, is the Almighty Creator who inhabits a greater place than Zion, namely Heaven. Jesus has forgiven and cleansed us from the only thing that could stop our communing in prayer with God, namely our sin. We now have open access to God in prayer 24/7. Use it well and often. We must pray, both with fellow believers when we can, and daily in personal prayer. Let us cultivate the habit of praying during the day to God, as well, as we live our daily lives. The Bible says, ‘pray continually.’ (1Thessalonians 5:17). God does and will answer our prayer and continue to bless us by His ‘amazing grace’.