A PEOPLE OF PRAISE
Eternal God, remind me today that I live under Your watchful eye, and in Your grace I stand.
Read Psalm 134
A song of ascents.
1 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 bless you from Zion,
he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.’1
Psalm 134 is the last of the fifteen songs of ascents (see 24 January). The ascent songs that began in distant, hostile Meshek and Kedar2 end, fittingly, in Jerusalem, the pilgrims’ longed-for destination. The psalmist commences with a call to ‘Praise the Lord’ (v 1) and concludes with a blessing (v 3).
The ‘servants’ who ‘minister by night in the house of the Lord’ (v 1) are probably the priests and Levites on night duty in the temple – tending the altar fire and keeping the sanctuary lamps burning through the night.3 To ‘stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord … [and] do the same in the evening’4 was also a specific duty assigned to the Levites. In the Old Testament, the same Hebrew word (abad) is used both for worship and service. Thus, praise is not confined to the lifting up of hands in the sanctuary (v 2) but extends also to the offering up of all areas of our lives as ‘a living sacrifice’.5 In God’s eyes, the sacred-secular divide simply doesn’t exist. As Paul urges, in 1 Corinthians 10:31, ‘So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.’
Praise is not the special preserve of priests, however. These ‘servants’ may also have included pilgrims keeping a Passover night vigil as a way of honoring the Lord who ‘kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt’,6 to make them His own people. Our redemption as God’s people is ‘to the praise of his glory’.7 Once all other aspects of its earthly mission are accomplished, the church will live on, for it exists for the ‘praise of His glory’. We are a people of praise. Our praise will never cease or diminish; rather, it will be purified and magnified!
‘When we’ve been there ten thousand years … we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, / than when we’d first begun.’8 Start rehearsing!
Lord, in worship today, let praise be on my lips for who You are, thanksgiving be in my heart for what You have done, and obedience be in my steps for what You ask me to do.
1 Rom 12:1, The Message 2 Ps 120:5 3 Lev 6:9; 24:3 4 1 Chr 23:30 5 Rom 12:1 6 Exod 12:42 7 Eph 1:14 8 Anon, addition to J. Newton’s ‘Amazing Grace’