The Power in Blessing God - Psalm 134

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

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.

May the Lord, who made heaven and earth, bless you from Jerusalem.
-Psalm 134 (NLT)

Photo: Pixabay
Psalm 134 is the last of the songs of ascent or pilgrim songs of Psalms 120 to 134.  I have called them songs of the steps.  This last one is a priestly benediction.

"Oh praise the Lord", the song begins.  If you know God, it is natural to praise God.  To be in God's presence is to praise, worship, and fear him in holy awe.  Yet, being in the world, and living in the already and the not yet of God's kingdom, we need the priestly call to worship.

It is important to note that worship is to be God centered.  Worship and songs of praise are for one person.  We sing to Jesus, we sing to Father, and we sometimes sing to the Holy Spirit.

Worship and songs of praise are not for us to feel better or for us to get in the mood to hear the message or to create an atmosphere for ministry.  We don't worship to get God to come and touch us.

Worship is to God alone and for God alone.  We may be touched while worshiping and worship and praise probably will change the atmosphere, wherever you are; but that's not why we bless and praise the Lord.

Most people think of church or worship services as occurring during day time.  But, this song makes reference to nighttime worship services.  The psalmist calls out to all the people as literally 'servants of Yahweh, who are standing in Yahweh's house by night.'

Do you enjoy worship at night?  I do.  Have you ever worshiped in dim light or by candle light?  That is the festive idea of the song.

We are all serving the Lord in blessing him.  Standing is a picture of serving.  Servers stand and walk around.  To serve God, you must stand up.  Serving God in worship has a posture of giving to or blessing God.

We have it backwards if we go to and enter into worship to receive.  Imagine a relationship where you just want to take and not give.  That's all that a baby knows (1 Cor. 3:1, 13:11).

The house of the Lord is now the people of God.  You are the temple of the spirit (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19).  The journey or pilgrimage described in the songs of ascent (or the steps) is a journey towards God.

In this last step, we discover or revel in the joy of blessing God in celebration together.  We are the house of the Lord, together.  If you are alone, you can still worship as well.

What if the highest call is celebration, preferably together?  What if the highest level of or key to spiritual maturity is blessing God, worshiping him and thanking him?  This is the opposite of what the world does (Rom. 1:21).

By making worship or praise, being thankful to and blessing God a daily priority or way of life, we grow spiritually and have our minds continually renewed (Rom. 12:1).  This last step caps everything off as a key to life.

If we do not worship God, every day, which is being thankful and blessing him, all the progress in the previous 14 steps will unravel, go stale, or lose their place in our life.  We will become like the person who looks in the mirror, then forgets what he looks like (James 1:23-4).

Every day needs to have a time of celebration, thanking God for what he has done today.  This is the opposite spirit of the way of the world, that does not thank God, and falls into bondage (Rom. 1:21).
Lift your hands toward the sanctuary, and praise the Lord.
The lifting of hands occurs many times in the Psalms.  We lift our hands to bless God.  It is a physical gesture of blessing

Many churchgoing Christians do not lift their hands, when worshiping or praising God.  I think that we get shy or just have not been instructed.  We use our bodies to bless God and that is what lifting the hands is about.

Whether you open your hands at waist level, with your elbows bent; or if you lift up your hands over your head, you are doing so as an act of blessing the Lord, and it is completely Biblical.

When we worship, when we bless the Lord, we enter into the blessing of God, we are blessed.  The psalmist writes, 'May the Lord, who made heaven and earth, bless you from Jerusalem.'  We bless the Lord, for who the Lord is, and the Lord blesses us back.  God lives in the, 'give and it shall be given', principle.

Worship, praise, thanksgiving, and blessing open a door in our lives to and from God, that we want open.  This is Leslie Allen's final thoughts on Psalm 134:
Zion (Jerusalem NLT) is a doorway that opens out into the power behind the world.  Blessing extends in a remarkable circle.  Dynamic potential is given to those who give Yahweh sincere acknowledgement of his power.  Essentially it is unsought and comes as a gracious byproduct of worship.  In keeping with this attribute of power the divine object of blessing becomes an active object.  He generously shares with his devoted followers from his own resources of omnipotence so that abundant life may be theirs.(1)

In summary, Psalm 134 teaches us that the last step, in the steps of ascent, is a life of celebrating God, of blessing him.  When we bless God, he blesses us back and God creatively releases more blessing into our lives.

To review the 15 steps we have now covered:
  1. We learn to call upon God and that God saves us and answers prayers.
  2. We learn that God is our guardian, watching over us.
  3. We learn to be worshipers, desiring God.
  4. We choose to humble ourselves as servants as we ask for mercy.
  5. We cultivate seeing God's workings in our lives, then sharing the stories.
  6. We learn to live a life of trusting the Lord, that brings security.
  7. We discover that there is more or we have lost something and ask God for it and learn to release the grief of our hope differed, through tears and we persevere in our walk towards God, with weeping as we walk, and experience astonishing joy from God. 
  8. We learn to trust God to build everything, and we labor under God in building, learning to enjoy finding rest, and becoming aware of the gift of and responsibility  of raising children for God.
  9. We learn that the result of a life of revering God and walking with him is fruitfulness, which means children: your own or spiritual, or metaphorical; and having grandchildren is the end result of a blessed life.
  10. We learn that suffering is part of the faith walk towards God.  God uses suffering to grow us up into Christ-likeness.  This may surprise us after we have done so well, 'going wide', in learning to walk with God, cultivating a rich relationship with him, and learning to enjoy the blessings.  After learning to 'go wide' with God, having an enlarged 'God life', we begin to learn to 'go deep'.
  11. We are surprised to learn, after we have been walking with God for some time, that God has more redemptive work that he wants to do in us.  We discover deep places where we want God.  God in turn redeems us in those deep places with his unfailing, steadfast, covenant love; and we are made more like Christ.
  12. We learn to humble our selves, and stop all the crying and chatter. We can say that we are not proud, to God, and that we don't have it all figured out, but have a lifestyle of trusting him in our lives, that dethrones pride. We patiently embrace the silence of waiting, and encouraging others in a life of hope in God.
  13. We learn to be more concerned or preoccupied with God and God's habitation in us, than with our selves, in all our lives.  We get a revelation that, "my house is Gods house", and we want to dwell in God in our whole lives and God's presence in our whole lives brings a blessing to others and God blesses us generationally.
  14. We learn that harmony or unity among God's people comes from learned maturity.  The mature people must come under the headship of Christ in their lives and when they function together.  This results in unity or harmony or getting along, which results in the anointing from God, which is an increased presence of the Holy Spirit among us together.  And God refreshes those who function in this oneness, all the way to eternal life.
  15. We learn to live a life of celebrating God, of blessing him.  When we bless God, and he blesses us back and creatively releases more blessing into our lives.
The artwork above, From Whom All Blessings Flow, is by Stacey-Robin H. Johnson
1. Allen, Leslie C., Word Biblical Commentary, Psalms 101-150, p.218