The Final Ascent, Psalm 134
Psalm 134 is the last within the Song of Ascents. Recall that in Psalm 132, God promises salvation in the Messiah and Psalm 133 impresses upon us the need for unity within the people of God. Psalm 134 is a responsive reading. As the singers completed their ascent to God’s presence, they would greet the watchmen who stood guard over the temple at night, and the guards would welcome them and bestow blessing as they left their night watch. This song is also one of the shortest of the collection, and it is a song of rejoicing because they have realized our goal of accessing the presence of God.
Behold, bless the LORD, all servants of the LORD, who serve by night in the house of the LORD! Lift up your hands to the sanctuary and bless the LORD. May the LORD bless you from Zion, He who made heaven and earth.
This Psalm reminds me of what Peter admonished us.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you one were not a people but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9).
As a kingdom of priests unto the Lord, He calls us out of darkness into glorious illumination, just as the watchmen were called out from the hour of gloom to a time of rejoicing with the brethren. There is a proclamation of the goodness of God made when we emerge from the dark night of the soul, having persevered. In response, those that have endured the night hour appear, encouraging those around them to lift their hands to the sanctuary. It is the image of lifting our strength and our portion before the Lord, who is holy and wholly present in our lives. We separate ourselves from all that is fleshly and bow before the LORD. In exchange, God grants us Himself as our strength and our portion. Psalm 73:26 reminds us that "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
One of the results of unity among the brethren, as described in Psalm 133, is that when oneness occurs, the blessing of life that God bestows upon us allows and empowers us to be a blessing to the Lord and one another. As Paul told the Ephesians, we begin “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph. 5:19-21). When the bride of Christ is united, encouraging one another in Him, our beauty emanates out of us, blessing our Lord!
When we bless the Lord and others with the Lord’s presence, God blesses us. Blessing is cyclical, and it is directly related to our relationship with God and others. From His holy habitation, God bestows upon His people favor! What a way to end a journey of ascent into the presence of God! Together, unified, not disjointed, before Almighty God, who is our Maker and all of heaven and earth. It should bring to mind the Aaronic blessing bestowed upon the people by the priests stated in Numbers 6:24-26.
“The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.”
This song is the culmination of the journey that is the children of Israel’s active response to the Lord’s favor upon them. Only blessing is upon those who choose to embark upon the journey to God’s presence, and because of Jesus, we can boldly approach the throne of grace! We, too, can stand unashamed before the Most High and bless His holy Name. As Jude so eloquently put it,
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” Jude 1:24-25