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. NIV
Psalm 134 is the last of fifteen psalms referred to as Song of Ascents, Pilgrim Songs, Song of Degrees, Song of Steps, or Gradual Psalms. Jewish pilgrims sang these songs as they journeyed to Jerusalem for the three annual festivals as required by God in the Old Testament:
Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the LORD empty-handed. Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you. Deuteronomy 16:16-17 NIV
Psalm 134 is titled, Come, Bless the LORD (ESV); Praising the LORD in His House at Night (NKJV); Temple Guards, Praise the Lord (ICB); Greetings of Night Watchers (NASB); among others. These titles are interesting and can give us a better understanding of the psalmist’s meaning and the historical circumstances surrounding it. Headings, chapters, and verses were added later to aid in reading and finding things in the Bible.
Just imagine, Psalm 134 is the last psalm sung as the Jewish pilgrims arrived at the temple with their gifts. Maybe they arrived at night and called out to the priests who were there waiting for them. And then the priests answered with their blessing upon the weary travelers.
Or here is another theory,
The Pilgrims are going home and are singing the last song in their psalter. They leave early in the morning, before the day has fully commenced, for the journey is long for many of them. While yet the night lingers they are on the move. As soon as they are outside the gates they see the guards upon the temple wall, and the lamps shining from the windows of the chambers which surround the sanctuary; therefore, moved by the sight, they chant a farewell to the perpetual attendants upon the shrine. Their parting exhortation arouses the priests to pronounce upon them a blessing out of the holy place: this benediction is contained in the third verse.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
Can you picture it?
The pilgrims on their way home look back one more time,
Oh, praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, you who serve at night in the house of the LORD. Lift your hands toward the sanctuary, and praise the LORD. Psalm 134:1-2 NLT
The priests from inside the temple,
May the LORD, who made heaven and earth, bless you from Jerusalem. Psalm 134:3 NLT
A beautiful scene. A long journey to reconnect with the Lord. To offer thanks and bring gifts. To worship and sing songs. To praise His name with families, relatives, and friends. And leaving the sanctuary or temple, which holds a special place in their hearts, they turn back once more in excitement to shout this blessing and to receive just one more for themselves for the long journey home.
Also, Bible commentators explain that Psalm 134 is a good reminder for us to pray for our pastors and religious leaders. And not just pray, but also to encourage. The pilgrims are leaving, and they holler back one more encouragement to the priests or attendants behind them- Continue on! Keep it up! Keep praising the Lord. Keep speaking of the Lord. Keep doing His work faithfully, even at night. And not just with your mouths and your prayers, but also with your hands! Raise your hands and praise the Lord.
Is verse three like a benediction at the end of church service? As you leave this place and go back into the world, be blessed. May God bless you and keep you. In the case of Jewish pilgrims, may the Lord bless you from Zion/Jerusalem while you are away, and until we meet again.
The LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron and his sons, 'This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: "'"The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."' Numbers 6:22-26 NIV
He is your Creator, and he can bless you with untold mercies; he can create joy and peace in your hearts, and make for you a new heaven and a new earth. May the Maker of all things make you to abound in blessings.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
What a blessing our walk through the Song of Ascents has been for me. I have learned so much and appreciate these beautiful words of God so much more. I wish I could walk to Jerusalem and sing these songs, praising God with my family, carrying my gifts of thanksgiving, to meet with God again on that Holy Mountain.
Someday, my friends, we will make that pilgrimage together. We will climb that hill together. And at that time, we will see the King of kings on His throne in all His glory.
To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 1:24-25 NIV
Father in heaven, you are good and all that you have created is good. Thank you for your faithfulness, your promises, and for your unfailing love. Give us strength and peace and joy today to love those around us and to share the Good News of your love to everyone in our path. Amen.