Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 134:1-3 (NIV)
Read: Psalm 134:1-3
Consider: Psalm 134 is the shortest of the ‘songs of ascent’ (Psalms 120 – 134) that would have been sung as pilgrims ascended on their way up to the temple in Jerusalem. Praise is a common theme throughout the Psalms and is an encouragement to each of us that God is worthy of our praise and adoration.
The focus of this particular psalm is a group of Levites who had responsibility for guarding the temple. The words of the psalm seek to encourage praise in those who serve God in the temple. Did the Levites need such encouragement? The psalm is addressed to the: ‘… servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord’ (Psalm 134:1). Could these men ever be discouraged by the tedium and monotony of their role. In the silence of the night, could their minds be flooded by thoughts of the cares and anxieties of everyday life? Of course they could. Their protection is to ‘Praise the Lord’ while they are serving in the temple. Another protection for them is also mentioned in the psalm. Notice that the psalmist says: ‘May the Lord bless you from Zion …’ (134:3). The psalmist is praying for God to bless the Levites, recognising that God alone can bless them appropriately.
Anyone who is involved in Christian work (whether full-time or part-time) needs to be on their guard against discouragement. God does not want them to see their role as just another job, but as something they are called to do in his name. This is typified in the life of the apostle Paul. In Romans he introduces himself in this way: Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel (Romans 1:1). In Titus we read: Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness (Titus 1:1). If you have time, look at each of Paul’s letters and you will be amazed how he introduces himself. Even in opposition and suffering, Paul was not discouraged (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). Instead he saw it as evidence of his calling as an apostle to share the good news of the gospel with the Gentiles.
What about you and me? What are we to make of this psalm? If you are involved in ministry you need to find personal time to worship God. It is too easy to allow the pressures of ministry to squeeze out the personal time for praising God, reading and studying his Word and praying. Also be willing to let your colleagues and congregations know when you need specific prayer to uphold you before God and ask for his blessing on you. As a member of a congregation are you willing to ask for God’s blessing on those who serve in ministry? If you are involved in any aspect of church life, don’t allow the mundane to grind you down. Instead see whatever role you have as an occasion to praise God.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving (Colossians 3:23-24).
Pray: Father, bless those who serve in ministry. Protect them from discouragement and give them a deep conviction of their calling to serve you in sharing the good news of the gospel. Amen