Psalm 134 Reading

Psalm 134

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?

Psalm 133 Reading

Psalm 133:1-3

A SONG OF ASCENTS. OF DAVID.
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! 3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

A few thoughts for meditation:

1) David likely wrote this song at the high point of his reign, when all Israel was finally united together after the death of Saul and before the strife of David’s sons broke out. As people from all the tribes of Israel would gather in Jerusalem for the feasts, rather than for war, it provided a profound picture of unity and peace among all the people of God.

2) David then described the unity as a great blessing descending from God with two pictures. First, he described it as oil being poured out upon the mediator God provided to his people. The background to this picture is Exodus 29 when Aaron was consecrated and anointed as the high priest of Israel. The anointing oil was actually “precious oil”, an oil mixed with spices providing a pleasing aroma too (Ex 30:23-25). The sight and smell of the oil poured upon Aaron and trickling down his garments was a picture of God’s abundant blessing poured out through the priest to his diverse yet united people. The second picture was the dew of Hermon. Mount Hermon was the tallest mountain in Israel, located far to the north, and known for it’s abundant refreshing dew. And the picture here is that the abundant dew was descending upon Zion to refresh God’s people there. Unity especially after conflict is indeed refreshing. Both of these images of oil and water were used to describe the work of the Holy Spirit consecrating and renewing the people of God.

3) The final line emphasized the divine initiative in producing this unity. God “commanded” the blessing. He provided the mediator through which all these blessing flow to his people. He provided the city for them to dwell in. He provided peace. Any unity and blessing we enjoy as God’s people comes through his appointed mediator, Jesus Christ. When viewed through New Testament lenses, this passage takes on profound Trinitarian significance; the Father pouring out his life-giving Spirit, through his Son, Jesus Christ, to all his redeemed people, imparting new life, “life forevermore”. Here, we see a glimpse of Old Testament faith, looking beyond the types and shadows of Israel, to eternal life with God and his reconciled people. It’s a glimpse of our heavenly fellowship, when all God’s redeemed from all the nations will gather around the throne to enjoy perfect life, peace, and fellowship with God and neighbor. Let us give thanks to God when we do experience those moments of unity with God’s people, and continue to pray for more. It is a foretaste of heaven and indeed a blessing from God descending down to refresh and renew his people on their pilgrimage. Praise God from who all blessings flow!

Psalm 132 Reading

Psalm 132

A SONG OF ASCENTS.
Remember, O LORD, in David’s favor, all the hardships he endured, 2 how he swore to the LORD and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, 3 “I will not enter my house or get into my bed, 4 I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, 5 until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.” 6 Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah; we found it in the fields of Jaar. 7 “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!” 8 Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. 9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy. 10 For the sake of your servant David, do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
11 The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne. 12 If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne.” 13 For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place: 14 “This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. 15 I will abundantly bless her provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread. 16 Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy. 17 There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed. 18 His enemies I will clothe with shame, but on him his crown will shine.”

A few thoughts for meditation:

This psalm is based upon the account in 2 Samuel 7 where David longed to build a house for the ark of God, and God in return promised to build a house (i.e. dynasty) for David. The first half of the psalm focuses on David’s commitment to God. The second focuses on God’s response to David and Israel. The psalm was likely sung by later kings in commemoration of the events leading to the building of the temple.

1) The song first called God to remember David’s hardships as he struggled to prepare a house for the Lord in Jerusalem. Such an enterprise was a daunting task. And in fact, David was not permitted by God to actually build it himself. Solomon would finish the job. But David did all he could to make preparations for the work. His own mindset was that he should not live in a nice house while the ark of God rests in a tent (2 Sam 7:2). He was driven by a passion to honor the Lord with a prominent house in his chosen city among his chosen people. In vs. 6, we see a call to worship, calling Israel to come and gather before the Lord in Jerusalem. It likely recalled to mind either the day David brought the ark to Jerusalem, or the day Solomon consecrated the finished temple. David was leading his people to worship the Lord with their priests in place. Then in vs 10, the later king (a descendant of David) who sang this, asked for God to keep his promises to David. All of this is a grand picture of God graciously providing mediators (priests and kings) to his sinful people so that they can continue to live in fellowship with him. It as a time of great joy in the undeserved gifts, promises, and presence of God.

2) Then vs. 11 switches the focus to God’s response to David. The promise God made to David is repeated, that God would build a house, a royal dynasty, that would rule over God’s people forever if they remained faithful to the covenant. Then the Lord celebrates and rejoices in the people he has chosen and recounts his commitment to abundantly bless his people. The picture of one of perfect balance; God living in the midst of his people, providing their daily needs, providing perfect priests to mediate for them, and a perfect king to rule them and protect them from their enemies. Again, notice the central theme of grace behind all this. God comes, God saves, God establishes priests and kings, God brings joy and peace to an undeserving people. God abundantly provided and maintained the bridges to fellowship.

The typology is rich here. All of these types are fulfilled by Christ. He is the promised faithful king from David’s line (Matt 1:1-17). He is the righteous priest who brings salvation (Heb 4:14-16). He is the temple where God’s presence abides (John 2:19-21). It’s through him that God’s people receive every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3). The great joy and satisfaction the pilgrims had when they saw the temple and throne of Jerusalem is the same joy and satisfaction we should have when we think about all that God has given us in Christ, especially when we gather together for worship as a congregation. God has kept his promises of salvation through the ages, and one day all of God’s people from all ages and nations will gather for celebration around his throne forever.

Psalm 131 Reading

Psalm 131

A SONG OF ASCENTS. OF DAVID.
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. 2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. 3 O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.

A few thoughts for meditation:

This song of David gives us a glimpse into the heart of godly king and warrior. He understood his place before God as a servant and a steward of the great responsibilities God required of him. It is no small thing to be a shepherd of God’s flock, especially one so large as a whole nation.

In vs. 1, he prayed to the Lord about two major sins he has tried to avoid, pride and arrogance. He did not think too highly of his own worth or overestimate his own strength, ability, or understanding. He did not pry into matters which belong only to God. He learned that the secret things belong to God and what is revealed belongs to him and his children (Deut. 29:29). He recognized his limitations as a man and humbled himself before the most wise and good God. This runs contrary to the common trait of leaders we see in the world who boast in themselves and their abilities, trying to convince others (or themselves) of their confidence and competence, while trying to advance their selfish ambitions. David rejected those attitudes, and instead grounded his identity and confidence in the Lord rather than himself.

In vs. 2, he described this state of contentment. He is like a weaned child with his mother. Twice, he used the word “weaned” to emphasize this. A weaned child does not fret or fuss when he is needy. He has learned that his own selfish desires are not the most important desires to be fulfilled in the moment. He has learned self-control and to trust his mother to feed him when he needs it, and that he is part of a larger household. This is David’s attitude toward the Lord now. He trusted the Lord to sustain him so that he does not have to fret or worry as he labors faithfully in the task God has given to him. As someone once said, “Duty is our part, the consequences are God’s.”

In vs. 3, David invited the rest of Israel to enjoy this hope in the Lord too. Our hope cannot rest in the shaky powers and plans of men, but in the unfading and unfailing power and plan of God. This is the hope and contentment which enables you to forget about yourself, and give yourself fully in service to God with whatever tasks he has laid before you as a worker, parent, child, husband, wife, neighbor, and church member. Too often, the reason we worry and fret so much, is that we have stopped trusting God, and taken on too much responsibility for the course of the world ourselves. We instinctively know we are not capable of shouldering that load, and so we grow anxious and worry about those things outside our control. We must wean ourselves of such pride and arrogance and learn to trust the Lord to provide for our needs as we serve him. And he should have earned our trust by now, after all he has done to save us through his Son, Jesus Christ. This is why Paul could say, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Psalm 130 Reading

Psalm 130

A SONG OF ASCENTS.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! 2 O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! 3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. 5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6 my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. 7 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. 8 And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

A few thoughts for meditation:

1) There are many situations which cause us to feel like we are in “the depths”, like we are sinking and drowning with no way out. The pilgrim here is in such a situation. In this case, he is immersed in the depths of conviction over his sin. Perhaps this came to mind as he attended the sacrifices at the temple. He felt the weight of his guilt pulling him down into despair and so he cried to the Lord for mercy. Have you every felt convicted over your sin like that? Have you grasped how evil and dishonoring to God your sin is? The culture currently has a very low view of sin because there is no fear of God or dread of his judgment. But when you understand who God is, how he called us to live, and how destructive sin is to ourselves and to others, then your sins should put you into “the depths.” It is an appropriate response to understanding your guilt before God and the first step in repentance.

2) What kept this pilgrim from drowning was that he knew God was merciful. Four times here he appealed to the covenant name of God, “LORD”. He appealed to God’s faithfulness. He knew God was a merciful God and would forgive their sins if they sincerely returned to him. The result of such generous forgiveness is a greater “fear” of the Lord, a greater reverence and gratitude. You would think that pardoning a criminal would have the opposite effect, diminishing fear because he got away with his crime. But for the believer, fear increases because it’s not the pardon itself that he wants, but the restored relationship to God. His sin cut him off from fellowship with the God he loves, and that is what sinks him into the depths and long for mercy. Notice, he cried out “I wait for the LORD” not “I wait for forgiveness”. He wanted to be reconciled to God again. That was the heart of his cry for mercy, getting back to God again.

3) So, knowing God is gracious he waited “for the Lord” with great longing, eagerness, and confidence. He knew God’s “word”. He knew God’s promises. He knew that his hope of returning to fellowship is not in vain. And so he encouraged his brothers to embrace these promises as well. Given his situation of guilt, one may wonder how he could be so confident that God would take him back. This confidence was based upon God’s own word and upon God’s history of faithfulness to his people. He is a God of “steadfast love”, covenant love. God bound himself to the salvation of his people. And he provides “plentiful redemption” to them. He knew God hated his sin even more than he did and will gladly help him get rid of it in order to enjoy fellowship again. That is the heart of the great covenant promise, “I will be your God and you shall be my people.” But that still leaves us with a spiritual tension. He is confident God will redeem him from “all his iniquities” but perhaps doesn’t know how God will do it yet. This tension of a holy God showing steadfast love and mercy to guilty sinners was a great mystery to the Old Testament saints. God did not give them what their sins deserved. Why? That great tension it is not resolved until the Cross of Christ, when God himself provided his Son as the true sacrifice to take away all our iniquities and secure our fellowship with him forever.

So if you are sinking into the depths of your guilt today, let this song lead you into greater assurance. If you truly long to be restored back to the Lord, he will forgive you and receive you, and proved his willingness to save sinners by providing us an all-sufficient Savior in Christ.

Weekly Devotional Guide (May 18-23)

Memory Verse for the Week

Ephesians 4:15, Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…

Daily Scripture Readings

  • Day 1     Psalm 130
  • Day 2     Psalm 131
  • Day 3     Psalm 132
  • Day 4     Psalm 133
  • Day 5     Psalm 134

Hymns of the Week

  • Hymn 94 How Firm a Foundation

1 How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!
What more can he say than to you he has said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

2 “Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed;
for I am your God, and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

3 “When through the deep waters I call you to go,
the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
for I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
and sanctify to you your deepest distress.

4 “When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
my grace, all-sufficient, shall be your supply;
the flame shall not hurt you; I only design
your dross to consume and your gold to refine.

5 “E’en down to old age all my people shall prove
my sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
and when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne.

6 “The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

  • Hymn 53 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

1 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise him, for he is your health and salvation!
Come, all who hear; now to his temple draw near,
join me in glad adoration.

2 Praise to the Lord, above all things so wondrously reigning;
sheltering you under his wings, and so gently sustaining!
Have you not seen all that is needful has been
sent by his gracious ordaining?

5 Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore him!
All that has life and breath, come now with praises before him.
Let the Amen sound from his people again;
gladly forever adore him.

Making the Body Grow

Speaker: Patrick Severson
Series: Quarantine 2020
Sermon Info:
This is an online devotional service offered during the corona virus quarantine, since we cannot gather for public worship. There are three Scripture readings; Hebrews 10:23-25, Psalm 133, and Romans 12. The sermon is based upon Ephesians 4:13-16, looking at how the Church grows when each part of the body does it’s part.