Psalms of Ascent: 134

1   Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
2   Lift up your hands to the holy place
and bless the Lord!

3   May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who made heaven and earth!

This is the last Psalm of Ascent. It was likely used in a particular part of the liturgical proceedings of the festivals, such as the opening or closing of a worship service. It’s a call-and-response. The congregation would sing verses 1-2 and the priests would respond with verse 3. They sang a prayer of blessing for each other.

The “servants of the Lord” referred to in verse 1 are the priests and levites who worked at the temple, and were especially busy, working through the night, during the pilgrimage festivals. Those who journeyed to the temple were greatly blessed by God through the ministry of these priests. Blessing the Lord means to praise him with abundant thankfulness. The Israelites were asking the priests to lead them in worshipping the Lord.

The priests’ response was to pray a blessing over the people. And in Hebrew, they have different words for “you” singular and “you” plural, like how they say you/y’all in the south. The “you” used in verse 3 "May the Lord bless you," is singular, meaning that this is prayer of blessing for each worshipper personally. Essentially, “May God bless each of you.” It’s such a fitting verse to end the Psalms of Ascent. The Lord’s blessing would flow out from Zion, his kingdom and dwelling place, and fill his people who would then carry it home to wherever they were scattered. God’s love and power and favor didn’t stay in Jerusalem. It was spread across the land through his people.

This isn’t a passage asking us to just thank our pastors. It means so much more than that. In Jesus, we have all become servants and priests of God. During the days of the temple, only certain people could enter into certain parts of the temple to perform religious duties. There was a veil that could not be crossed to enter into the presence of God, the Holy of Holies. But when Christ accomplished his work on the cross, that veil was torn. In Jesus, we have the presence of God dwelling inside of us. We are priests who work to praise the Lord and bless his people.

We the church experience the blessing of Psalm 134 on a small scale every Sunday. We gather together to praise God and to receive ministry from the word, the Lord’s Table, corporate confession, and unity. We are then sent out into the world to be blessed and to be a blessing. This is a perfect psalm to pray over our ministers and congregations at this strange time in history when we often cannot gather in person. May we be blessed by God and continue on in his ministry of reconciliation as we are scattered.