thumbnail graphic for sermon series "the pilgrim's survival guide: messages from Psalm 122 to 134"

Come, Bless the Lord

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 134:1-3, ESV

In the final song of the Songs of Ascent in Psalms 122-134, we hear the Pilgrim say goodbye to the ministers or priests from Jerusalem and the ministers’ response to the Pilgrim as he journeys back into the world, and we see that they gloriously point to the coming of our salvation in Christ and the New Jerusalem he has prepared for us.

1. The Pilgrim’s Parting Words to the Ministers (v1-2)

2. The Ministers’ Parting Words to the Pilgrim (v3)

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Psalm 134

before we go to the Lord and hear from him, let’s go to prayer and once more ask his blessing upon the hearing the reading and the preaching of his word. Let’s pray.

Heavenly gracious God, we come again before you and we come now to you and we are eager to hear your word. We come to sit at your feet and be still and to listen. And we pray. Heavenly Father, help us to settle our souls and our focus, help us or help us to, to be clear and to listen. or help us to receive from you that which is most important your word for because it is there that you give us yourself, your grace, your blessing. Your kingdom is for all of these that we yearn and we long open our eyes. We pray now in hearts that we might accept by faith all We hear that I may change our lives and our hearts that we would be transformed into the image of our Savior Jesus Christ. It’s in his name that we pray. And all God’s people said, Amen. Amen.

become this morning to Psalm 134. This is the last psalm of the songs have a sense that we have been going through this past number of weeks. So please give your full attention as we hear from our God, our great and gracious Lord, the God who is not silent. Please give your full attention out to the reading of his word.

Psalm 134. Song of a sense, calm 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. Who made heaven and earth? For the reading of God’s Word? May he indeed at his blessing upon it.

When we come this morning, as I mentioned, to the end of the journey of our pilgrim, that we’ve been looking at these past number of weeks, we’ve been looking at the Psalms, Psalms 120-134, the songs of a sense. We can’t be completely certain, but it’s likely that this group of songs was collected together in the history of the Old Testament and put together there like a kind of prayer book or songbook. As they made the trip these pilgrims, the people of God from their various towns and villages to the Holy Land for the festivals in Jerusalem. We’ve now arrived at the end of our journey. The last of these songs, a friend of mine pointed out the sense of sadness that we have when we come to the end of a series that we’ve been reading Heading upon and dwelling upon for some time, and that’s certainly how I feel, as we say farewell to our pilgrims, and see mounts back up and heads back home. As we’ve been looking at these songs, we’ve seen that they were kind of a guide, Survival Guide, if you will, to the Christian life, we the people of God. And we see we’ve seen in our pilgrim, we’ve seen our pilgrim on his journey go up. And we’ve seen them go through various feelings and emotions as he does so, even as we go through the various emotions and feelings in our pilgrim lives. Let’s pilgrim and headed out leaving home and he was quite discouraged that his environment that environment was more and more hostile towards God, and more and more hostile towards God’s word and God’s people.

For instance, in Psalm 120 we read, too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace, I am for peace, but when I speak They’re for war. And he’s saying that he is for peace, and the people around him are hostile. They are against God and the things of God. We see this thread throughout these songs, and indeed, we see it throughout the course of history. That’s one of the things about sin and the outworking of sin amongst people. There is hostility, there’s animosity towards God and God’s people. And there’s never Of course been a time and right now is true as well. We’re God’s people couldn’t identify with this very thing with this pilgrim, of the song of a sense songs of a sense. And as believers in Jesus Christ, we seek to live consistently within our worldview. We seek to be honest and gracious and to love others and to speak truth. We can in many ways, identify with this pilgrim on his way and back again. He said that he is for peace, peace of the Lord. But Jesus seems to be having In this world more and more. So what has our pilgrim done? Well, it’s gone to church. He’s gone to church, and it’s likely he’s been there for the whole week. And during this time, he’s meditated upon the work of God. And he’s at the church in Jerusalem, and he’s reflected upon God’s blessing. And he’s full of gratitude.

And like we do, he’s reflected in thought through the experience, when we come to a glorious and heartfelt worship service amongst the people of God. And we feel simultaneously that unworthiness to be before the Lord because of our sinfulness, but also the wonder and glory of the gospel, and that new way that’s been made that’s been opened by Jesus Christ, for us to boldly go into the presence of our Heavenly Father. And this pilgrim has gone through these things and he’s come to the end of the week of celebration and praise in a significant spiritual experiences coming to an end. And what is he to do? What does he say? How was he to respond is he he’s about to make his way home.

As we look at this Psalm, Psalm 134, we see that it’s made up of three verses, very brief. But there are really two sections of the song, most believed was likely originally spoken by two voices, like the voice of the pilgrim, as he leaves to go back home, and then the voices of those to whom he is speaking. Right, there’s the voice of the pilgrim. And then the voice of those he’s addressing. In verses one and two, he’s addressing the servants of the Lord. You see that in verse one. These are probably the priests, the ones who minister in the temple in Jerusalem, and he wants to offer them a parting word. And then in verse three in response to him, those ministers those servants of the Lord offer to him a parting word. And as the ministers those servants say goodbye, and the pilgrim leaves at the end of his pilgrimage, it’s their last word to him as he returns home from Jerusalem. Because they are aware that this pilgrim like us when we are in the presence of the Lord on his day, and we’ve been encouraged after we’ve been taught from God’s word, we’ve heard the Lord. And he’s been reminded again of his forgiveness. We know that we have to descend back down from spiritual mountains ion back into the world back to our problems and our failures and our inadequacies. How is the pilgrim going to manage when he went home? So let’s look at this song. Now we’ll look at these two things from the Psalm.

First, the pilgrims parting words to the ministers, and then the ministers parting word, parting words to the pilgrim. These ministers you know, the servants of the Lord, as he calls them are the servants read about in the Old Testament, particularly first Chronicles nine. We read about these ministers there and they are the ones responsible for caring for the temple in the worship. Of God during the day and during the night. And so the song says, In verse one, come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord. Right, not just in the daytime, but also in the night. Right verse one comma, bless the Lord, in verse to lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the Lord.

And there are some very significant things that he is unfolding here. And one of those things is that the pilgrim has a deep concern for the glory of God, right for God’s glory, even when others are not conscious of the God of the glory of God. And this is the real marvelous thing. This reveals the heart of the pilgrim and all that he does the most significant thing for him, the most significant thought is that God would be glorified and revered and adored. And that’s something for all of us as well as well. From the rising of the On into the night, and for all of our lives, the central leading desire, as it was for the pilgrim was that God would be glorified. This is this is what brought him joy, and it should bring us joy as well. The glory of God.

And of course, we have a very strong central drive in this regard. Right, it’s our first question and answer our catechism right? What is the chief end of man? What is man’s primary purpose? What is his chief end? And that answer is so simple. It’s so profound and chief and is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. And this man has comprehended this very thing. And you know, this is so contra. You know, so opposite of the thinking of the world. I some people believe many believe that those two things are opposite of one another. They’re opposed to one another, glorifying God. Enjoying anything. Some people when they hear the gospel, and the call to believe it’s about the needs of Jesus, they think in fear that giving themselves over completely to the Lord, that they will lose everything, especially any joy in their lives.

But as you know, actually, the very opposite turns out to be the case. And this is what makes possible this pilgrim, as he gives these parting words, it’s what enables him to say to those ministering at the temple, in the nighttime, and in the daytime, he says, His greatest desire is that even when he sleeps, that God would be glorified to the ends of the world. And then also notice that his concern is not only that the Lord be glorified, even in those hours when he’s not awake, but he also asked for prayer when he will be away back on his own.

Again, look at verse two. He says, lift up your hands to the Holy Grail. Place and bless the Lord. This of course, is a posture of prayer. Right? These people have gone very often stood while they prayed, and they would stand and with their eyes open in their hands raised and lifted up. And they longed for God to fill their hands and to bless them. The pilgrim has been in the City of God. Now it’s time to go. And what he’s asking the ministers to do is to pray for him. And to bless the Lord. Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless Yahweh. You might know that this is one of the most repeated exhortations in the Psalms, bless the Lord. Bless the Lord, O my soul, bless the Lord, all throughout this homes. And it may seem strange to us to hear and to say. And it seems obvious that God Of course can bless us. We need his blessing. How can we bless him? Well, I think as you get older, and particularly as you have children, children are a blessing to you. They’re a blessing and when they make things for us, for their parents, like a drawing when they’re small, or some other art project, we don’t throw those things in the trash because they’re not very good art. Right? We know that in their small way. They’re trying to show love for us. Our hearts are full of joy. As they do this, and they bless us, and we treasure them.

The pilgrim here saying that this is how Glorious and gracious Our God is that his people are able to bless him, and to bring him joy and to make him smile upon us. The people of God. And you see, this is the Psalm is longing, the manifestation of God’s glory in the world and enjoying the Lord and for the ministers to lift up their hands and to pray, to pray for him and to bless the Lord. was one of God’s children who’s been delighted and satisfied in the Lord. And he desires that everyone give themselves over to the Lord, for their good and for His glory.

And that’s to be our desire as well. Right brothers and sisters, that’s to be our desire and our satisfaction is that your desire? Is that is that is that the the desire and the longing of your heart, the glory of God? in all things, and in every place, in all that you do and all that you say, and is Jesus the fullest satisfaction of your heart? Are things that complete with him that compete with him for your deepest satiation and satisfaction? I pray that there is not and when we find that there is all I pray that it would be removed from your lives. Your King and Savior will have no competitors.

He is You’re all he must be you’re all because apart from him, there is no satisfaction or peace or joy. But in him, there is rest and peace and joy, true joy, true lasting satisfaction. Christ alone. So those are the pilgrims parting words to the Minister.

And the next we see the minister’s parting word to the pilgrim. verse three, right, he says, may the Lord bless you from Zion he who made heaven and earth and listening to what’s going on here. You may recognize this this is prayer, but it’s a benediction, right? It’s a benediction. May the Lord bless you from Zion. You’re all familiar with a benediction, right? That’s the benediction that closes our service each Lord’s day. And the benediction isn’t a prayer so much as it is a pronouncement upon the people of God. So when we have a guest to come in, they’re not yet ordained. He’s not supposed to offer a benediction. He’s to offer a closing prayer or a sending prayer. But a benediction is a pronouncement upon the people of God from the Lord. And it’s completely appropriate to stand and to receive with eyes open. Because at that time we’re not praying or asking for the blessing of God, what we’re saying is that God has commanded upon us His blessing. And that’s his blessing to us.

May the Lord bless you from Zion, from Zion. Why the addition of that? It’s because it’s the blessing that he had before God, the forgiveness of God pictured in the sacrifices at the temple. And that blessing is not only for that hour of that week, or for that week, in which it happens. It’s not only for there in Jerusalem. No, it’s a benediction from the Lord that follows you all throughout your life. And he’s saying, may the Lord bless you from Zion. As you go down from Zion, and that what you experienced in Zion, May that flow down and flow down and be upon you for all of your life.

And as you’re familiar with your Bibles, you know that there is this, one of those threads and themes that we find is a mighty river that runs through Jerusalem. We read this from Psalm 46 A moment ago, and our old testament lesson says there is a river whose streams make glad the City of God, the holy habitation of the Most High are in a zekiel for instance, we read about the mighty river flowing from the temple.

And we read in ezekiel chapter 47 of this mighty river. And it says this I’ll read briefly from the beginning of the chapter ezekiel 47. Since then, he brought me back to the door of the temple, temple and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold Hold of the temple towards the east, for the temple face the east. And the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the North Gate, and he led me around outside to the outside the outer gate that faces towards the east and behold, the water was trickling out of the south side. And going eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured 1000 cubits, and he led me through the water, and it was ankle deep. And again, he measured 1000 and led me through the water and it was knee deep. And again, he measured 1000 and led me through the water and it was waist deep. And again, he measured and it was a river that I could not pass for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in a river, a river that could not be passed through. And he said to me, son of man, have you seen this? Then he led me back to the banks of the river. As I went back, I saw The bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me this water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arab ah and enters the sea. And when the water flows into the sea water will become fresh. And wherever the Robert river goes, every living creature that swarms will live and there’ll be very many fish for this water goes there, and the waters of the sea become fresh, so everything will live where the water goes, fishermen will stand beside the sea. From end Getty to end go belly team, it will be a place for the spreading of nets. It’s fish will be the very, very many kinds like the fish of the great seed. But it’s swamps and marshes will not become fresh. They are to be left for salt. And on the banks both side of the river there will grow all kinds of trees for food and their leaves will not be Whether norther fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month. Because the water for the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their will their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing. mighty river from the temple.

But you probably know there is no river in Jerusalem. So what’s this about? Well, we read in our New Testament reading from john seven, where he said on the last day of the Feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried, if anyone thirst let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him or to receive‚Ķ

the one who believes in God out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. JOHN says this is the Holy Spirit that Jesus gives to those who believe in him. And this is what’s pictured here. It’s the blessing that comes through the power of the Holy Spirit from the very heart of God who is people. The Lord bless you from Zion. There’s something else here to consider from this benediction. That we read. Likely most of you are familiar.

The most familiar benediction in Scripture is the one that we often close our service with the Aaronic benediction from Numbers chapter six. Where it says this, the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, speak to Aaron and the sons and his son saying, that you shall bless the people of Israel and you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you, Lord, make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. Lord, lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.

This was the command the priests to pronounce upon the people of God. It’s the blessing of God. The pilgrim knows he’s seen in Jerusalem, the sacrifices and how that peace comes to him. And we know, brothers and sisters from this side of the resurrection, that it all pointed to Jesus, the full and final atonement that he would make to the sacrifice of his own body on the cross.

And remember the first words that Jesus said to the disciples after the resurrection, you remember what they were first words that he says, as he appears before them. john chapter 20. It says on the evening of that day, the first day of the week The Doors being locked or the deceit disciples were for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. And he said to them, peace be with you. When he had said this, he showed them his hands inside. And the disciples were glad that they saw it when they saw the Lord. And Jesus said again to them, peace be with you.

And you can see him right. You can see him Jesus, the great high priest, lifting up his hands towards the people and it gives them the benediction. The Lord bless you and keep you, Lord, make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. In Ephesians, two, we read Jesus, He is your peace, he is our peace.

And notice also the benediction that the minister is pronounced in verse three of Psalm 134. May the Lord bless from Zion, he who made heaven and earth, right? Do you see that?

They’re telling this pilgrim, as you go back as you go back down to your home, back to the place where they are for war, but you are for peace. As you go, you go knowing that you were not leaving the blessing of God, and the blessedness that you had in Jerusalem. You go knowing that God is not merely the God of Zion, but He is the God who made heaven and earth. And that means brothers and sisters, that there is no place. No circumstance, no problem that can overtake you as the people have gone.

For you, dear Christian, like this pilgrim is told, the one who made heaven and earth will never be hindered from giving you his wonderful blessing. This is something for us to ever reflect upon. Brothers and sisters we must never forget, in all of the more world’s hostility and all of our own failings in our lives and all of the enemy’s attempts and harassment, we must never forget that our great God and Savior and king, he has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. Oh, the joy is overwhelming. It’s glorious. And this pilgrim goes, knowing forever the blessing of the Lord, even as we come and go Lord’s day by Lord’s day. And as we do so, let us go and rejoice. Even May we be overwhelmed by the love and the blessing of our Great King Jesus. And as a minister in his church, I say to you all, may the Lord bless you from Zion, he who made heaven and earth and as we go, brothers and sisters, we go knowing the blessing of the Lord. The promise of the Lord those two most wonderful things. Oh, what comfort encouragement.

And one last thing, listen to this last thing for is our future Dear Christian, Revelation 22 we read this. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, brightest crystal flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. through the middle of the street of the city also on either side of the river, the tree of life with 12 kinds of fruit yielding its fruit each month, the leaves of the tree or for the healing of the nations. No longer will be anything a cursed.

What a glorious promise. Brothers and sisters, when we go even as we descend back into our lives, from spiritual mountains on May we always remember Those two very important things for our survival and for our peace, the blessing of the Lord and the promise of the Lord. Amen. Let’s pray together. our Heavenly Father, we we delight to give you praise, or we are overwhelmed and awed at your love towards us. Who are we that you are mindful of us? Lord, we praise you that out of your own good pleasure. You have set your love upon us and you have sought us. You have found us and you’ve given us life in Christ. We pray Father, even through the ups and downs and the insanity of this world that seems so prevalent, that we would never forget the love that we’ve been shown the mercy that we’ve been shown, I mean, we extend that to others. Out of gratitude, out of love for you out of love for Christ when we reflect the love of him to whom we belong. our Redeemer Jesus, Lord, we pray that you would help us to have a growing understanding of the reality that we are united to Christ and that we are dead to sin and alive to walk into this life or Father, help us to walk in newness of life. Or we do pray that you would continue to bless us. As we descend back and go into our, our pilgrim life, Lord, we pray that she would, that we would go knowing that you are ever with us. And then we carry that blessing, even to the end of our days into glory. We thank you and we love you. We ask this in Christ’s name. Amen.