Working the Night Shift?

Psalms decorative

Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
    who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands to the holy place
    and bless the Lord!
May the Lord bless you from Zion,
    
he who made heaven and earth!
Psalm 134 ESV

‘There are no small parts, only small actors,’ said theatre director Constantin Stanislavski in around 1924. Certainly there are no ‘small’ or insignificant acts of worship when even the least of men or women come humbly before our gracious and loving heavenly Father to give thanks and praise to Him.

Dr G. Campbell Morgan commented on Psalm 134: “This little Psalm is principally valuable as a picture. In it we see the true activity of those set apart to the ministry of holy things. It is first that of representing the people who cannot themselves be present in the Temple Courts, by reason of the duties of the day, or as here, because it is night, and in rest they prepare for work in offering praise to God.

“It is, second, that of speaking for God to those people in pronouncing His blessing upon them. I have never been able to join with those who speak slightingly of a service in some parish church conducted by the clergy, when hardly any congregation is present; or of an exceedingly small company of believers assembled for praise and prayer in some of our village, or for that matter, city chapels.

“Those who are there are representatives of multitudes detained by duty. If in each case, there is on the part of those who minister in the sanctuary, a due sense of this representative character of their ministry, they are serving in the highest way to the glory of God, and the well-being of men.”

From Dr G. Campbell Morgan in Searchlights From the Word.

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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!
Lift up your hands to the holy place     
and bless the Lord!
May the Lord bless you from Zion,     
he who made heaven and earth!
Psalm 134 ESV

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Down With Blessings?

Psalms decorative1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is     
when brothers dwell in unity!
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!
It is like the dew of Hermon,     
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,     
life forevermore.  Psalm 133 ESV

That the history of sibling rivalry begins as far back as Genesis probably doesn’t surprise any of us, brother and sister alike (Genesis 4). That the history of the restoration of all our relationships; with God, and our neighbour, as well as our family, is tied to the history of God’s love shown towards us, gives us ground for hope that whatever separation is caused by sin may be healed, and that here, as in all respects, our healing begins with the grace of God.

Derek Kidner commented on Psalm 133: “The second half of verse 3, with its strong accent on God’s initiative (commanded) and on what is only his to give (life for evermore), clinches another emphasis of the psalm, which is made by a threefold repetition, partly lost in translation: literally, ‘descending (2a) … descending (2b) … descending’ (3a). In short, true unity, like all good gifts, is from above; bestowed rather than contrived, a blessing far more than an achievement.”

From Derek Kidner in his Tyndale Old testament Commentary on Psalms

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Psalm 133

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is     
when brothers dwell in unity!
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!
It is like the dew of Hermon,     
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,     
life forevermore.

Psalm 133 ESV

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A Place for the Lord?

King David ArtRemember, O Lord, in David’s favor,     
all the hardships he endured,
how he swore to the Lord     
and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
“I will not enter my house or get into my bed,
I will not give sleep to my eyes     
or slumber to my eyelids,
until I find a place for the Lord,     
a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
Psalm 132:1-5 ESV

When our fears move us to avoid even the threat of hardship (impossible in the light of Jesus’ comments about the cost of discipleship) Psalm 132 reminds us that the promises of God (verses 11-18) are for those in whom He inspires the Spirit ‘not of fear but of power and love and self-control’ (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV).  As David chose to face hardship so that the House of God would be established in the land, so we will face hardship in fulfilling God’s purpose for us today; becoming His ‘living stones…being built up as a spiritual house’ so that we ‘may proclaim the excellencies of him who called (us) out of darkness into his marvelous light.’ (1 Peter 2:5).

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan commented on Psalm 132: “What was the affliction (the hardship) of David which Jehovah was asked to remember for him? The reference was not to any personal sorrow that he endured; neither was it to chastisements which he endured. The affliction is immediately described, being introduced by the word ‘how.’

“It was that of his concern for the House of Jehovah, his determined restlessness until Jehovah found His resting-place, his search in Ephrathah and the fields of the wood, until it was found. Here we have at once a revelation of the consuming zeal of David for the highest things in the national life, and an indication of the only kind of affliction of ours which can make any true claim on God.

“In other words, we have a right to ask God to fulfil His promises, when our concern for His glory becomes affliction (for us) in its activity.”

From Dr. G. Campbell Morgan in Searchlights From the Word.

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Psalm 132: 11-18


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.
If your sons keep my covenant
    and my testimonies that I shall teach them,
their sons also forever
    shall sit on your throne.”

For the Lord has chosen Zion;
    he has desired it for his dwelling place:
“This is my resting place forever;
    here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless her provisions;
    I will satisfy her poor with bread.
Her priests I will clothe with salvation,
    and her saints will shout for joy.
There I will make a horn to sprout for David;
    I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame,
    but on him his crown will shine.” 

Psalm 132:11-18 ESV

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Calm and quiet?

King David ArtO 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.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,     
like a weaned child with its mother;     
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord     
from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 131 ESV

Whatever occupies our minds and hearts the most, that is, whatever we love the most, reveals more about us than we might ever care to admit. The move from preoccupation with ourselves to hope in God above everything else, brings with it, peace, and a taste of heaven, even here.

Timothy Keller commented on Psalm 131: “CONTENTMENT. There can be an inordinate desire for greatness and accomplishment (131:1). ‘Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them’ (Jeremiah 45:5). This self-seeking creates great restlessness and discontent – but the psalmist has left all that behind. A nursing child, held by its mother, is highly aware of the milk she can offer and will squirm and cry if denied. A child who has been ‘weaned’ (131:2), however, and no longer nurses, is content just to be with its mother, enjoying her closeness and love without wanting anything else. We so often approach God only for what he can give, rather than simply to rest in his presence. Do that now, through the Word and prayer, in Jesus’ name.

“Prayer: Lord, you tell me to bring you my needs. But help me also to rest in your presence, joyfully content to just be with you. Sometimes give me that level of nearness and love. I need it so much. Amen.”

From Timothy Keller in My Rock My Refuge.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:1-4 ESV

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