A SONG OF ASCENTS.
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!
A few thoughts for meditation:
This is the last psalm in the Psalms of Ascents. You could imagine the pilgrim singing this at the climax of the feast. It’s also a geographic climax. He began in Ps 120 in the distant Gentile lands of Meshech and Kedar and ends now inside the temple itself, in God’s house. Perhaps he envied the servants in the temple who got to stay in Jerusalem while he had to make the long dangerous journey back home. It’s also possible that this psalm was repeated responsively during the feast. In vs. 1-2, the people spoke to the priests and in vs. 3 the priests responded to the people with a blessing from God.
He began in vs. 1-2 by calling the temple servants to bless the Lord. The servants he probably had in mind were the priests and the singers. Sacrifices would be offered morning and evening in the temple. The singers were on post “day and night” (1 Chron 9:33). There were likely guards and support workers as well. The pilgrim here called the servants to continue worshiping the Lord. We might wonder how it’s possible for us to “bless” the Lord. Our praise does not add anything to God. He is entirely self-sufficient and independent and needs nothing from us to make him more “blessed”. But to “bless” him means to acknowledge his genuine greatness and glory, and give him the honor and thanksgiving due to him. The servants were called to lift hands to the “holy place” which was the central place of the temple complex where the ark was kept, and where the glory of God was present in the glory cloud. The pilgrim wanted to see God worshiped day and night without fail.
Then in vs. 3, the benediction is declared, “May the LORD bless you from Zion, he who made heaven and earth!” Now, God blesses the people. One scholar compared it this way, “The exchange is unequal: to bless God is to acknowledge gratefully what he is; but to bless man, God must make of him what he is not, and give him what he has not.” When God blesses us, he gives us what we do not possess ourselves. As our Creator, maker of “heaven and earth,” he gives us life and every other good gift we enjoy in this world. As the “LORD”, our Redeemer, he provides us forgiveness and new spiritual life to cleanse us from the guilt and power of sin, reconcile us to himself, and makes us whole, again giving us what we do not have the power to give ourselves. Every good gift comes from him and is undeserved and unearned. This picture of ongoing worship in the temple, with man blessing God, and God blessing man, is another glimpse into the future of glory, where all God’s people will be gathered around the throne with Christ to worship forever and receive unending blessing from him. Such was the hunger created in the faithful by these feasts, and public worship should have the same effect for us every Lord’s Day. It should create a longing in us for unhindered communion with God and his people in glory. Is this the future you long for?