Blessing and Prayer
Almighty God, I celebrate Your handiwork in creation and acknowledge Your hand upon my life. I wait for Your Word today.
Read Psalm 134:1-3
 A song of ascents.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“To bless the Lord is to acknowledge gratefully what he is; but to bless us, God must make us what we are not, and give us what we have not” (Derek Kidner).
This is the last of the little pilgrim psalms, the “Songs of Ascent,” (Psa. 120-134) memorized and sung by pilgrims journeying to Jerusalem festivals and during their sojourn there. The arrangement of these 15 psalms suggests that this last one was a benediction as the pilgrims departed. The priests and all who attend to the temple and its sacrifices are called upon to “bless” the Lord (1, KJV). The pilgrims looking back to Zion or turning towards it from their homelands, also “bless” the Lord (2), and in return God will “bless” them from Zion, where he dwells. We bless God and God blesses us. Volumes of dense theology explore this seeming paradox of blessing. How can we “bless” the supreme Ruler of the universe to whom heaven and earth belong? But these simpler, less learned pilgrims from rural villages found no problem in these mutual blessings. We acknowledge God and give ourselves and all we are to him. In return, God will acknowledge us and give himself abundantly to us. We know now that far into their future God would give himself totally in the person of his Son. Even this immense blessing is not inconsistent with the Old Testament faith in a God whose power and desire to bless were boundless (Mal. 3:10).
A second layer to this psalm is that it calls to those in the Temple who faithfully serve by night. The Temple lamps, like the tabernacle lamps, were tended all night, symbolizing unceasing prayer to God. It was comforting to people, separated by distance from the Temple, to know that prayer was constantly offered there. The beautiful evening hymn, “The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended,” (John Ellerton, 1826-93) enlarges this thought to embrace a world where, even as we sleep, prayer never ceases.
Read again this psalm and turn it into your own praise and prayer to the Lord.
Lord, I praise You for who You are and all You do. This Lord’s Day, as Your people bless You, may Your blessing be upon them, too.
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