- “The Songs of Ascent” span from Psalms 120-134. The phrase literally translates “A Song of Steps”. Luther translates ”A Song from the higher choir” thinking it had to do with their singing from an elevated platform for better projection of their voices.
- However, the traditional view is that these psalms were sung on the pilgrimage back to Jerusalem at various feast times, but particularly during Passover (From Kedar 120:5 to the temple 134).
- This psalm includes both a call to worship and a benediction. These two elements bookend each Worship Service. It sets the service apart from everything else we do.
- In the covenant community, the people bless God and God blesses the people. This reciprocating call and response pattern should characterize worship.
Read Psalm 134
- The Call to Worship (1a)
- The Posture of Worship (1b-2)
- The Gift of Worship (3)
The Call to Worship (1a)
- The goal of each element of worship is to bless the Lord (“kneel” > reverence, humility).
- Who is in view?
- Pilgrims standing vigil through night, possibly during Passover (Exod. 12:42). Or, more likely, they were calling upon the priests (1-2) as they began their return home.
- Priests ministering during the evening service respond (3). Their service ended at evening sacrifice.
- John Calvin
“An exhortation to praise God, addressed to the people of God generally, but more particularly to the Priests and Levites.”
- It was possible for the Priests, in addition to the pilgrims, to perform their duty without a heart for worship. Many of them obeyed physically, but not spiritually.
- God expected the priests to lead by example (especially in worship). Pressure!
- I will fail, but He never fails. Must point to the Lord.
- Leadership implies followers. You are responsible for taking what you learn, and replicating it in your homes.
The Call to Worship includes within it a note about…
The Posture of Worship (1b-2a)
- 1a “Standing” > accepted, secure.
- 2a “Lift up your hands” in prayer (Psalm 28:2; 63:4; 141:2; Lam. 2:19; 3:41; 1 Tim. 2:8).
- Scripture frequently encourages kneeling/prostration too. Of all the postures slouching or stiff is never instructed!
- Babylon Bee:
Redeemer Reformed Church unintentionally executed a perfect “mannequin challenge,” a recent viral phenomenon in which participants attempt to remain completely still for the duration of a video, sources confirmed Thursday.
While many mannequin challenge videos last for a few minutes or so, the saints at Redeemer were able to last for a full hour and a half, completely frozen in place during their worship service Wednesday evening…
According to church leadership, those present were not aware they were participating in the challenge, but they “give all the glory to God” for their amazing accomplishment.
- The point is that our posture would mimic the state of our hearts. Raised hands indicate a reaching, longing for God.
- William Plummer
“The lifting up of the hands and eyes teaches us that we should lift our minds and hearts to God.”
In our text, the Call to Worship is followed by…
The Gift of Worship (3)
- It was the responsibility of the priests to bless the people (Num. 6:23-24; Psalm 128:5). Preserved for ministers. The first benediction I gave was at my ordination service.
- We bless God by acknowledging who he is and what he has done. He blesses us by giving us what we don’t have and treating us as we don’t deserve.
- Those who gather for worship recognize that they have been and will continue to be blessed by the Lord.
- Derek Kidner
“As the one who made heaven and earth, he gives without measure; and his ways are past finding out. Yet his blessing is from Zion, a particular and discoverable place to which the Israelite could get up and go. Like his commandment, his blessing is not ‘far off’; not ‘in heaven’ nor ‘beyond the sea’, but ‘very near you’ (Deut. 30:11–14; cf. Rom. 10:6ff.). His true Mount Zion is, as Hebrews 12:22–24 shows, where ‘Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant’, reigns in the midst of his people.”
- “Bless you” is singular here (plural in vv.1-2) which may point to the personal promise that is being declared. The One who made heaven and earth (Psalms 121:2; 124:8), has poured out his blessing upon you!
- The redeemed worship God before the throne (Rev. 7:15).
- This benediction is a reminder that God’s presence would be with them until they would meet again.