Psalm 134 concludes the mini-collection of fifteen psalms (120–134) known as the Songs of Ascent. As we have observed, these songs were likely sung by worshippers as they travelled to Jerusalem three times a year for the main religious festivals at the temple. They were, in a sense, songs that prepared the people for worship. Psalm 134 culminates the collection with the realisation of worship at the temple.
The psalmist calls the “servants of the LORD” to “come, bless the LORD” (v. 1). He exhorts worshippers to “lift up [their] hands to the holy place and bless the LORD” (v. 2) and pronounces a return blessing upon those who will worship Yahweh in this way (v. 3). It is a scene of wholehearted, joyful worship.
It is significant that this song caps this collection. (At the same time, it acts as something of an introduction to Psalms 135–150, which serve as calls to worship Yahweh.) The first psalm in this collection (Psalm 120) opened with the psalmist lamenting his removal from the temple and its worship (120:5–7). “This world is not my home,” he might have sung. But the collection ends on a happy note: The psalmist is home at last—back in Jerusalem, back at the temple, back in the community of Yahweh worshippers.
We can scarcely imagine the joy that must have erupted when the Jews were once again, after seventy years in exile, able to worship Yahweh in Jerusalem. Ezra tells us that, even when the foundation of the new temple was laid, “the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD” (Ezra 3:11). To be sure, there were critics who lamented that it was the same as the worship of “the good old days,” but those who had been deprived of the worship they so desperately desired could not contain their excitement at the prospect of worship reinstated. Their heart for God was clearly displayed in their heart for worship.
When we considered Psalm 120, we observed the psalmist’s longing for the fellowship of God’s people. Separation from the people and the place of worship had not been good for his soul and he yearned for the opportunity to return to corporate worship. In Psalm 134, that yearning is answered. The worshipper is now back at the temple in the fellowship of the saints, worshipping God together. And nothing could bring him greater joy.
Last Sunday, for the first time in weeks, the doors of the church building opened once again to Lord’s Day worshippers. The numbers were limited, to be sure, and the service was somewhat abbreviated, but what a joy it was to once again gather, not only in our own families, but with fellow saints to lift up hands in worship to our God. What a thrill it was to spend time after the services fellowshipping with the saints of God who had come together to worship. Ask anyone who was there and they will tell you what a blessing it was to come together to bless the Lord.
Sunday is once again approaching. Once again, there will be opportunity to gather with fellow saints to sing songs, to offer prayers, to confess sin, and to sit under the preaching of the gospel. There is no place in this world that feels more like home to the worshipping Christian than the gathered worship of God’s people. What a joy it is to stand together blessing the Lord.
As you contemplate Psalm 134 today, realise that this fallen world is not your home. As a believer, your eternal home is on a restored earth, where the curse of sin is forever removed, and you will be free to bless God with his saints for all eternity. Then remember that the closest you can come in this age to experiencing eternity is in the gathered worship of God’s people. Join his people for worship. Bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, and may the Lord bless you from Zion.