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TO CHEW ON: "Lift up your hands in the sanctuary,
And bless the Lord." Psalm 134:2
Psalm 134 is the last of fifteen Songs of Ascent (Psalm 120-134). Pilgrims sang these psalms as they ascended to Jerusalem to take part in the annual feasts. (Jerusalem was a high point of the country topographically.)
"But," Eugene Peterson points out in his book about these psalms, "the ascent was not only literal, it was also a metaphor: the trip to Jerusalem acted out a life lived upward toward God, an existence that advanced from one level to another in developing maturity" - Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p. 18.
I love how this last psalm in the set focuses on blessing. The Hebrew word translated "bless" here is berekah.
"It describes what God does to us and among us: he shares the goodness of his Spirit, the vitality of his creation, the joys of his redemption. He empties himself among us, and we get what he is. That is blessing" - Peterson, p 191.
Peterson points out that "bless the Lord" is both an invitation and a command.
"Read one way the sentence is an invitation: 'Come bless God.' The great promise of being in Jerusalem is that all may join in the rich temple worship. You are welcome now to do it. Come and join in…
"The sentence… is also a command. … Do that for which you were created and redeemed; lift your voices in gratitude; enter into the community of praise and prayer that anticipates the final consummation of faith in heaven. Bless God" - Peterson, p. 193,4.
No doubt you've experienced this. I know I have. Life is overwhelming. We feel jaded, tired, and frayed by the battles—personal, family, public, political, whatever. How refreshing it is then to enter God's presence—not with prayers of request or begging or pleading but praise and blessing.
When we bless God in this way we remind ourselves of who He is and what He is capable of. As we do this our cares somehow dissipate at His feet in our acknowledgement of how vast and powerful and glorious and good and wise He is—way bigger than all our puny concerns.
Today, whatever situation we're in, let's do that for which we were created. Let's lift our hands and faces and voices and bless the Lord.
PRAYER: Dear God, I bless You today for who You are and what You mean to me now and will mean in the future. Thank you! Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.