Before I was a pastor I was a worship leader at a church in Brattleboro, VT. We used to sing Psalm 134 and I thought, "This has to be the best job in the world. Being hired to serve the Lord in His house all night long, just worshiping God, singing and playing my guitar, lifting up my hands in the sanctuary and blessing Him in praise and worship”
The Message Version of Psalm 134 calls it "A Pilgrim Song" This is the last of the Psalms or Songs of Accent. This was probably the closing song of worship. It’s a wonderful exhortation to “bless the Lord.” One can picture the Israelites as pilgrim travelers singing as families journeyed out of the sanctuary and on to the dusty roads heading home to the villages of Israel. They had spent time in festive worship at one of their annual feasts, Passover, Pentecost or Tabernacles, in Jerusalem. They would be sad to leave the fellowship of families and friends but also joyful having been spiritually filled being in the holy city, Jerusalem, and in the house of the Lord. They would go back to their homes, to their work of farming or fishing or carpentry, and raising their families in the ways of the Lord.
Psalm 134, as I see it, is a two-fold exhortation. I can see the Pilgrims going by the sanctuary at night, seeing through the window holes the servants or priests whose job it was to remain in the holy place and spend the whole night in worship of the Lord. They knew the worship of God must continue day and night to call down the blessing of the Lord. The Pilgrims would sing and shout to them inside, “Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.” This would encourage and exhort the priests to keep up the prayer, praise and worship of God and not let their hands down. “Keep it up men! Don’t fall asleep on us! You need to bless the Lord at all times, night and day! Then we will have the blessing of the Lord upon us and God will be pleased!”
Sort of a similar word is found in Hebrews 13:15-16, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
Now upon hearing those words from outside the priests would shout back a blessing upon the pilgrim travelers;
“The LORD who made heaven and earth bless you from Zion!” It was as if those inside were saying, “Don’t worry, we will. We’re blessing you back with our benediction for you!”
This Psalm exhorts us in the pews and pulpits to “Bless the Lord!” As David said, “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Through the cross and our High Priest, Jesus, we have access continually into the very presence of God in His throne room anywhere we are. No traveling required. God will respond to our continued praise, prayers and worship. The blessing of the Lord’s presence and power will be upon us. Never underestimate the power of prayer, praise, giving thanks and worship.
As we make our accent to Rutland and the Annual Gathering this year and return home to the towns and villages of Vermont and New Hampshire, let’s remember to “Bless the Lord” continually and bless each other to bring down the blessing of “the Lord who made heaven and earth.”
- John Brigham
Danville Baptist Church and their pastor David Hammer
First Baptist Church, Derry and their pastor Malcolm Widness
Edie Brigham, President, ABC/VNH