Psalm 134:1
Behold, bless you the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) All ye servants.—We learn from 1Chronicles 9:33 that there were Levites whose duties brought them to the Temple by night. Moreover, the word ‘āmad, “stand,” is the customary word for sacerdotal service (Deuteronomy 10:8; Deuteronomy 18:7; 1Chronicles 23:30, &c).

Psalms

THE CHARGE OF THE WATCHERS IN THE TEMPLE

Psalm 134:1 - Psalm 134:3
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This psalm, the shortest but one in the whole Psalter, will be more intelligible if we observe that in the first part of it more than one person is addressed, and in the last verse a single person. It begins with ‘Bless ye the Lord’; and the latter words are, ‘The Lord bless thee.’ No doubt, when used in the Temple service, the first part was chanted by one half of the choir, and the other part by the other. Who are the persons addressed in the first portion? The answer stands plain in the psalm itself. They are, ‘All ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the House of the Lord.’ That is to say, the priests or Levites whose charge it was to patrol the Temple through the hours of night and darkness, to see that all was safe and right there, and to do such other priestly and ministerial work as was needful; they are called upon to ‘lift up their hands in’-or rather towards-’the Sanctuary, and to bless the Lord.’

The charge is given to these watching priests, these nightly warders, by some single person-we know not whom. Perhaps by the High Priest, perhaps by the captain of their band. They listen to the exhortation to praise, and answer, in the last words of this little psalm, by invoking a blessing on the head of the unnamed speaker who gave the charge. So we have in this antiphonal choral psalm a little snatch of musical ritual falling into two parts-the charge to the watchers and the answering invocation. We may find a good deal of practical teaching in it. Let us look, then, at this choral charge and the response to it.

The charge to the watchers.

We do not know what the office of these watchers was, but in the second Temple, to the period of which this psalm may possibly belong, their duties were carefully defined, and Rabbinical literature has preserved a minute account of the work of the nightly patrol.

According to the authorities, two hundred and forty priests and Levites were the nightly guard, distributed over twenty-one stations. The captain of the guard visited these stations throughout the night with flaming torches before him, and saluted each with ‘Peace be unto thee.’ If he found the sentinel asleep he beat him with his staff, and had authority to burn his cloak {which the drowsy guard had rolled up for a pillow}. We all remember who warned His disciples to watch, lest coming suddenly He should find them asleep. We may remember, too, the blessing pronounced in the Apocalypse on ‘Him who watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked.’ Shortly before daybreak the captain of the guard came, as the Talmud says: ‘All times were not equal. Sometimes he came at cockcrow, or near it, before or after it. He went to one of the posts where the priests were stationed, and opened a wicket which led into the court. Here the priests, who marched behind him torch in hand, divided into two companies which went one to the east, and one to the west, carefully ascertaining that all was well. When they met each company reported “It is peace.” Then the duties of the watch were ended, and the priests who were to prepare for the daily sacrifice entered on their tasks.’

Our psalm may be the chant and answering chant with which the nightly charge was given over to the watchers, or it may be, as some commentators suppose, ‘the call and counter-call with which the watchers greeted each other when they met.’

Figure then, to yourselves, the band of white-robed priests gathered in the court of the Temple, their flashing torches touching pillar and angle with strange light, the city sunk in silence and sleep, and ere they part to their posts the chant rung in their ears:-’Bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord which by night stand in the House of the Lord! Lift up your hands to the Sanctuary, and bless the Lord!’ Notice, then, that the priests’ duty is to praise. It is because they are the servants of the Lord that, therefore, it is their business to bless the Lord. It is because they stand in the House of the Lord that it is theirs to bless the Lord. They who are gathered into His House, they who hold communion with Him, they who can feel that the gate of the Father’s dwelling, like the gate of the Father’s heart, is always open to them, they who have been called in from their wanderings in a homeless wilderness, and given a place and a name in His House better than of sons and daughters, have been so blessed in order that, filled with thanksgiving for such an entrance into God’s dwelling and of such an adoption into His family, their silent lips may be filled with thanksgiving and their redeemed hands be uplifted in praise.

So for us Christians. We are servants of the Lord-His priests. That we ‘stand in the House of the Lord’ expresses not only the fact of our great privilege of confiding approach to Him and communion with Him, whereby we may ever abide in the very Holy of Holies and be in the secret place of the Most High, even while we are busy in the world, but it also points to our duty of ministering; for the word ‘stand’ is employed to designate the attendance of the priests in their office, and is almost equivalent to ‘serve.’ ‘To bless the Lord,’ then, is the work to which we are especially called. If we are made a ‘royal priesthood,’ it is that we ‘should show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.’ The purpose of that full horn of plenty, charged with blessings which God has emptied upon our heads, is that our dumb lips may be touched into thankfulness, because our selfish hearts have been wooed and charmed into love and life.

The Rabbis had a saying that there were two sorts of angels: the angels that served, and the angels that praised; of which, according to their teaching, the latter were the higher in degree. It was only a half-truth, for true service is praise.

But whatever the form in which praise may come, whether it be in the form of vocal thanksgiving, or whether it be the glad surrender of the heart, manifested in the conscious discharge of the most trivial duties, whether we ‘lift up our hands in the Sanctuary, and bless the Lord’ with them, or whether we turn our hands to the tools of our daily occupation and handle them for His sake, alike we maybe praising Him. And the thing for us to remember is that the place where we, if we are Christians, stand, and the character which we, if we are Christians, sustain, bind us to live blessing and praising Him whilst we live. ‘Behold!’-as if He would point to all the crowded list of God’s great mercies-’Bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord that . . . stand in the house of the Lord.’

And then there is another point that comes out of this charge to the watchers, viz. the necessity of strenuously trying to unite together service of God and communion with God. These priests might have said-’When we go our rounds through the empty and echoing corridors of the dark Temple, we perform the charge which God gave us; and it needs not that we pray. We are working for Him and doing the work which He appointed us; and that is better than all external ritual.’ But this unknown speaker who charges them knew better than that. The priests’ service under the Old Covenant was very unspiritual service. Their work was sometimes very repulsive and always purely external work, which might be done without one trace of religion or devotion in it. And so the speaker here warns them, as it were, against the temptation which besets all men that are concerned in the outward service of the house of God, to confound the mere outward service with inward devotion. The charge bids us remember that the more sedulously our hands and thoughts are employed about the externals of religious duties, the more must we see to it that our inmost spirits are baptized into fellowship with God.

It is not enough to patrol the Temple courts unless we ‘lift up our hands to the sanctuary,’ and with our hearts ‘bless the Lord.’ And all we who in any degree and any department are officially or semi-officially connected with the work of the Christian Church have very earnestly and especially to lay this to heart. We ministers, deacons, Sunday-school teachers, tract distributors, have much need to take care that we do not confound watching in the courts of the Temple with lifting up our own hands and hearts to our Father that is in heaven; and remember that the more outward work we do, the more inward life we ought to have. The higher the stem of the tree grows and the broader its branches spread the deeper must strike and the wider must extend its underground roots, if it is not to be blown over and become a withered ruin.

And so all you Christian men and women! will you take the plain lesson that is here? All ye that stand ready for service, and doing service, all ‘ye that stand in the house of the Lord, behold’ your peril and your duty-and ‘bless ye the Lord,’ and remember that the more work the more prayer to keep it from rotting; the more effort the more communion; and that at the end we shall discover with alarm, and with shame confess ‘I kept others’ vineyards and my own vineyard have I not kept’; unless, like our Master, we prepare for a day of work and toil in the Temple by a night of quiet communion with our Father on the mountainside.

And then there is another lesson here which I only touch, and that is that all times are times for blessing God. ‘Ye who by night stand in the house of the Lord, bless the Lord’: so though no sacrifice was smoking on the altar, and no choral songs went up from the company of praising priests in the ritual service; and although the nightfall had silenced the worship and scattered the worshippers, yet some low murmur of praise would be echoing through the empty halls all the night long, and the voice of thanksgiving and of blessing would blend with the clank of the priests’ feet on the marble pavements as they went their patrolling rounds; and their torches would send up a smoke not less acceptable than the wreathing columns of the incense that had filled the day. And so as in some convents you will find a monk kneeling on the steps of the altar at each hour of the four-and-twenty, adoring the Sacrament exposed upon it, so {but in inmost reality and not in a mere vulgar outside form that means nothing} in the Christian heart there should be a perpetual adoration and a continual praise-a prayer without ceasing. What is it that comes first of all into your minds when you wake in the middle of the night? Yesterday’s business, to-morrow’s vanities, or God’s present love and your dependence upon Him?

In the night of sorrow, too, do our songs go up, and do we hear and obey the charge which commands not only perpetual adoration, but bids us fill the night with music and with praise? Well for us if it be, anticipating the time when ‘they rest not day nor night saying, Holy! Holy! Holy!’ Now, that is the priests’ charge. Look for a moment at the answering blessing: ‘The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.’

‘Thee?’ Whom? Him who gave the solemn charge. Their obedience to it is implied in the blessing which the priests invoke on the head of the unnamed speaker. So they express their joyful consent to his charge, and their desires for his welfare whose clear voice has summoned them to their high duty and privilege. They obey, and their first prayer is a prayer for him.

May we venture to draw from this interchange of counsel and benediction a simple lesson as to the best form in which mutual goodwill and friendship may express itself? It is by the interchange of stimulus to God’s service and praise, and of grateful prayer. He is my best friend who stirs me up to make my whole life a strong sweet song of thanksgiving to God for all His numberless mercies to me. Even if the exhortation becomes rebuke, faithful are such wounds. It is but a shallow affection which can be eloquent on other subjects of common interests, but is dumb on this, the deepest of all; which can counsel wisely and rebuke gently in regard to other matters, but has never a word to say to its dearest concerning duty to the God of all mercies.

And the true response to any loving exhortation to bless God, or any religious impulse which we receive from one another, is to invoke God’s blessing on faithful lips that have given us counsel.

This is the best recompense to Christian teachers. If any poor words of ours have come to any of your hearts with power for conviction, or instruction, or encouragement, let your response be, I beseech you, ‘The Lord that hath made heaven and earth bless thee.’ We need your prayers. We are weak, often sad, often discouraged. We are tempted ever to handle God’s truth professionally, instead of living on it for ourselves. We are tempted to think that our work is in vain, and to lose heart because we do not see the spiritual results which we would fain reap. And in many an hour of languor and despondency, when the wheels of life turn heavily and the sky seems very far away, and our message seems to have lost its grandeur and certainty to ourselves, and our handling of it looks as if it had been one long failure, then we need and may be helped by the voice of cheer coming through the night from those whom we have tried to counsel: ‘The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee.’

But observe, further, the two kinds of blessing which answer to one another-God’s blessing of man, and man’s blessing of God. The one is communicative, the other receptive and responsive. The one is the great stream which pours itself over the precipice; the other is the basin into which it falls and the showers of spray which rise from its surface, rainbowed in the sunshine, as the cataract of divine mercies comes down upon it. God blesses us when He gives. We bless God when we thankfully take, and praise the Giver. God’s blessing then, must ever come first. ‘We love Him because He first loved us.’ Ours is but the echo of His, but the acknowledgment of the divine act, which must precede our recognition of it as the dawn must come in order that the birds may wake to sing.

Our highest service is to take the gifts of God, and with glad hearts to praise the Giver.

Our blessings are but words. God’s blessings are realities. We wish good to one another when we bless each other. But He does good to men when He blesses them. Our wishes may be deep and warm, but, alas! how ineffectual. They flutter round the heads of those whom we would bless, but how seldom do they actually rest upon their brows. But God’s blessings are powers. They never miss their mark. Whom He blesses are blessed indeed.

That experience of the ineffectual emptiness of blessings from the most loving hearts gives point to the emphatic designation here of ‘the Lord which made heaven and earth,’ a formula which is common in this connection. It brings before the eye of faith the mighty Name, and the mighty work of Him in whose blessing we shall be rich. He is the Lord, the Eternal and the Covenant King. He has made heaven and earth. If He who lives above all limitations of time, the Source of life, who has the fulness of life in Himself, He who has revealed Himself to Israel and bound Himself to fulfil His covenant with all who plead it, He whose sovereign effortless power willed and spake into being the azure deeps of heaven with all its stars, and the solid earth with its tribes-if He, with such infinite resources to bestow on us as we need, if He blesses us, it will be with no vain wishes nor with the invoking of the goodwill of a higher power, but with the veritable communication of good, and we shall be blessed indeed.

Observe, too, the channel through which God’s blessings come-’out of Zion.’ For the Jew, the fulness of divine glory dwelt between the Cherubim, and the richest of the divine blessings were bestowed on the waiting worshippers there, and no doubt it is still true that God dwells in Zion, and blesses men from thence. The New Testament analogue to the Old Testament Temple is no outward building. That would be absurd confusing of the very nature of type and antitype. A material type must have a spiritual fulfilment. A rite cannot correspond to a rite, nor a building to a building. But the correspondence in Christianity to the Temple where God dwelt, and from which He scattered His blessings is twofold-one proper and original, the other secondary and derived. In the true sense, Jesus Christ is the Temple. In Him God dwelt; in Him, man meets God; in Him was the place of revelation; in Him the place of sacrifice. ‘In this place is one greater than the Temple,’ and the abiding of Jehovah above the mercy-seat was but a material symbol, shadowing and foretelling the true indwelling of all the fulness of the Godhead bodily in that true Tabernacle which the Lord hath pitched and not man. So the great fountain of all possible good and benediction which was opened for the believing Jew in ‘Zion,’ is opened for us in Jesus Christ who stood in the very court of the Temple, and called in tones of clear, loud invitation: ‘If any man thirst let him come unto Me and drink.’ We may each pass through the rent veil into the holiest of all, and there, laying our hand on Jesus, touch God, and opening our empty palm extended to Him, can receive from Him all the blessing that we need.

There is another application of the Temple symbol in the New Testament-a derivative and secondary one-to the Church, that is, to the aggregate of believers. In it God dwells through Christ. Receiving His Spirit, instinct with His life, it is His Body, and as in His earthly life ‘He spake of the Temple of His “literal” body,’ so now that Church becomes the Temple of God, being builded through the ages. In that Zion all God’s best blessings are possessed and stored, that the Church may, by faithful service, impart them to the world. Whosoever desires to possess these blessings must enter thither-not by any ceremonial act, or outward profession, but by becoming one of those who put their whole heart’s confidence in Jesus Christ. Within that sacred enclosure we receive whatever divine love and power can give. If we are knit to Christ by our faith, we share in proportion to our faith in all the wealth of blessing with which God has blessed Him. We possess Christ and in Him all. The ancient benediction, which came from the lips of the priestly watchers, and rang through the empty corridors of the darkened Temple, asked for much: ‘The Lord who made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.’ But the Apostolic assurance sounds a yet deeper and more wonderful note of confidence when it proclaims that already, however to ourselves we may seem sad and needy, and however little we may have counted our treasures or made them our own, ‘God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.’Psalm 134:1-2. Behold, bless ye the Lord, &c. — Attend to your duty, O ye ministers of the Lord; who not only by day, but by night also, reverently wait upon him in his house, 1 Chronicles 9:33. Employ your hearts and tongues in his praises, and cease not to declare how great and good he is.

Lift up your hands, &c. — Unto God, in prayer and praise; in the sanctuary — In that holy house of God where you stand; or, in holiness, as the margin reads it, and as is prescribed 1 Timothy 2:8. Do not therefore content yourselves with lifting up your hands, but see that this be done with pure and holy hearts. And bless the Lord — Be fervent and unwearied in your devotions and praises.134:1-3 An exhortation to bless the Lord. - We must stir up ourselves to give glory to God, and encourage ourselves to hope for mercy and grace from him. It is an excellent plan to fill up all our spare minutes with pious meditations, and prayers and praises. No time would then be a burden, nor should we murder our hours by trifling conversation and vain amusements, or by carnal indulgences. We need desire no more to make us happy, than to be blessed of the Lord. We ought to beg spiritual blessings, not only for ourselves, but for others; not only, The Lord bless me, but, The Lord bless thee; thus testifying our belief that there is enough for others as well as for us, and showing our good will to others.Behold - As if calling attention to the fact that they were there, or had come.

Bless ye the Lord - Praise Yahweh. Making known their desire that God should be praised, and calling on those who presided over the public worship of the sanctuary to engage now in that service as expressive of their feelings.

All ye servants of the Lord - The priests or ministers of religion, appointed especially to this service.

Which by night stand in the house of the Lord - There was a class of singers in the temple who devoted the night, or a part of the night, to praise; and it is possible that this service may have been, as it was subsequently in some of the monasteries, continued by succeeding choirs, during the entire night. Thus in 1 Chronicles 9:33, it is said, "And these are the singers, chief of the fathers of the Levites, who remaining in the chambers were free, for they were employed in that work day and night." This class is particularly addressed in this psalm, as if they were especially favored, or as if they especially possessed the ear of God in the silence of the night, and when the world slumbered around them. There is something favorable to devotion in the silence of the night; when the world sleeps; when we are alone with God; when it seems as if God would more particularly attend to our cry since the rest of the world is still, and does not (as it were) need his care. All this may be fancy; but the effect may be to make the mind more solemn, and better suited for devotion.

PSALM 134

Ps 134:1-3. 1, 2. The pilgrim bands arriving at the sanctuary call on the priests, who

stand in the house of the Lord—at the time of the evening sacrifice, to unite in praising God in their name and that of the people, using appropriate gestures, to which the priests reply, pronouncing the Mosaic blessing which they alone could pronounce. A fit epilogue to the whole pilgrim-book, Psalms 120-134.

by night—the evening service (Ps 141:2), as opposed to morning (Ps 92:2).

1 Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord.

2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.

3 The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.

Psalm 134:1

"Behold." By this call the pilgrims bespeak the attention of the nightwatch. They shout to them - Behold! The retiring pilgrims stir up the holy brotherhood of those who are appointed to keep the watch of the house of the Lord. Let them look around them upon the holy place, and everywhere "behold" reasons for sacred praise. Let them look above them at night and magnify him that made heaven and earth, and lighted the one with stars and the other with his love. Let them see to it that their hallelujahs never come to an end. Their departing brethren arouse them with the shrill cry of "Behold!" Behold! - see, take care, be on the watch, diligently mind your work, and incessantly adore and bless Jehovah's name.

"Bless ye the Low." Think well of Jehovah, and speak well of him. Adore him with reverence, draw near to him with love, delight in him with exultation. Be not content with praise, such as all his works render to him; but, as his saints, see that ye "bless" him. He blesses you; therefore, be zealous to bless him. The word "bless" is the characteristic word of the Psalm. Psa 134:1-2 stir us up to bless Jehovah, and in Psalm 134:3 Jehovah's blessing is invoked upon the people. Oh to abound in blessing! May blessed and blessing be the two words which describe our lives. Let others flatter their fellows, or bless their stars, or praise themselves; as for us, we will bless Jehovah, from whom all blessings flow. "All ye servants of the Lord." It is your office to bless him; take care that you lead the way therein. Servants should speak well of their masters. Not one of you should serve him as of compulsion, but all should bless him while you serve him; yea, bless him for permitting you to serve him, fitting you to serve him, and accepting your service. To be a servant of Jehovah is an incalculable honour, a blessing beyond all estimate. To be a servant in his temple, a domestic in his house, is even more a delight and a glory - if those who are ever with the Lord, and dwell in his own temple, do not bless the Lord, who will? "Which by night stand in the house of the Lord." We can well understand how the holy pilgrims half envied those consecrated ones who guarded the temple, and attended to the necessary offices thereof through the hours of night. To the silence and solemnity of night there was added the awful glory of the place where Jehovah had ordained that his worship should be celebrated; blessed were the priests and Levites who were ordained to a service so sublime. That these should bless the Lord throughout their nightly vigils was most fitting: the people would have them mark this, and never fail in the duty. They were not to move about like so many machines, but to put their hearts into all their duties, and worship spiritually in the whole course of their duty. It would be well to watch, but better still to be "watching unto prayer" and praise.

When night settles down on a church the Lord has his watchers and holy ones still guarding his truth, and these must not be discouraged, but must bless the Lord even when the darkest hours draw on. Be it ours to cheer them, and lay upon them this charge - to bless the Lord at all times, and let his praise be continually in their mouths.

Psalm 134:2

"Lift up your hands in the sanctuary." In the holy place they must be busy, full of strength, wide-awake, energetic, and moved with holy ardour. Hands, heart, and every other part of their manhood must be upraised, elevated, and consecrated to the adoring service of the Lord. As the angels praise God day without night, so must the angels of the churches be instant in season and out of season. "And bless the Lord." This is their main business. They are to bless men by their teaching, but they must yet more bless Jehovah with their worship. Too often men look at public worship only from the side of its usefulness to the people; but the other matter is of even higher importance, we must see to it that the Lord God is adored, extolled, and had in reverence. For a second time the word "bless" is used, and applied to Jehovah. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let every other soul bless him. There will be no drowsiness about even midnight devotion if the heart is set upon blessing God in Christ Jesus, which is the gospel translation of God in the sanctuary.

Psalm 134:3

This last verse is the answer from the temple of the pilgrims preparing to depart as the day breaks. It is the ancient blessing of the high-priest condensed, and poured forth upon each individual pilgrim. "The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion." Ye are scattering and going to your homes one by one; may the benediction come upon you one by one. You have been up to Jehovah's city and temple at his bidding; return each one with such a benediction as only he can give - divine, infinite, effectual, eternal. You are not going away from Jehovah's works or glories, for he made the heaven above you and the earth on which you dwell. He is your Creator, and he can bless you with untold mercies; he can create joy and peace in your hearts, and make for you a new heaven and a new earth. May the Maker of all things make you to abound in blessings.

The benediction comes from the City of the Great King, from his appointed ministers, by virtue of his covenant, and so it is said to be "out of Zion." To this day the Lord blesses each one of his people through his church, his gospel, and the ordinances of his house. It is in communion with the saints that we receive untold benisons. May each one of us obtain yet more of the blessing which cometh from the Lord alone. Zion cannot bless us; the holiest ministers can only wish us a blessing; but Jehovah can and will bless each one of his waiting people. So may it be at this good hour. Do we desire it? Let us then bless the Lord ourselves. Let us do it a second time. Then we may confidently hope that the third time we think of blessing we shall find ourselves conscious receivers of it from the Ever-blessed One. Amen. THE ARGUMENT

The form of this Psalm seems to be dramatical. In the two first verses the psalmist speaks in the name of some emminent person, either the king or chief priests, exhorting and requiring all the priests and Levites to perform the duties of their place and calling; and in the last verse in the name of the priests and Levites, returning him thanks for his good advice.

The priests and Levites are exhorted to bless the Lord in his sanctuary.

Behold, bless ye the Lord; do not stand there like statues, dumb and idle, but employ your hearts and tongues in singing forth the praises of the Lord.

Ye servants of the Lord; peculiarly so called, priests and Levites, who are set apart to the service of God and of the sanctuary, as the next clause restrains this general expression. By night; not only by day, but also and especially by night, when their watch was more necessary. See Exodus 27:21 Leviticus 8:35 1 Samuel 3:3. As you watch by night when others sleep, so do you utter the praises of God when others are silent.

Stand, i.e. serve or minister, as this word is used, Deu 10:8 18:7, and oft elsewhere. House; which word includes both the temple and courts belonging to it, as hath been noted before.

Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord,.... All men are of right the servants of God being his creatures; and are under obligation, through his providential goodness, to bless and praise him; though they are not all in fact so: but all good men are, being made so by the power of divine grace; which frees them from the servitude of sin, Satan, and the world, and makes them willing to serve the Lord; as they do in righteousness and holiness, with reverence and godly fear, heartily and willingly, and with great pleasure; and yet have no dependence on any service they perform: and as these are under the highest obligations to bless the Lord; the is, to ascribe greatness to him, to give him the glory of his works, and thanks for his mercies, temporal and spiritual; so they do in this way, and for those things, bless and praise him, to which they are here excited;

which by night stand in the house of the Lord: according to Kimchi, these were the wise and holy men, that rose from their beds in the night, and went to pray in the temple, and to praise the Lord; and such a holy person was Anna, Luke 2:37; according to R. Obadiah and Arama, they were such who continued in the chambers of the temple in the night season to study in the law and in the expositions of it: but it is generally interpreted of the priests and Levites, who watched in the temple by night, that it might not be profaned nor plundered; and they were obliged to stand, for none might sit in the temple but a king of the house of David (d). The priests watched in three places, and the Levites in twenty one, according to the Jewish Misnah (e). The Targum is,

"who stand in the watch house of the sanctuary of the Lord, and praise in the nights;''

which was one part of their service, 1 Chronicles 9:33. Under the Gospel dispensation all the saints are priests, and they have a place in the house of the Lord; where they wait upon him in his ordinances, and serve him, and which they do continually. Some understand, by "nights", times of affliction, darkness, and desertion.

(d) Maimon. Beth Habbechirah, c. 7. s. 6. (e) Middot, c. 1. s. 1.

<> Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye {a} servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD.

(a) You who are Levites and chiefly appointed to this office.

1. all ye servants of the Lord] Not Israelite worshippers in general, but, as the following clause shews, ministrants in the Temple.

which by night stand in the house of the Lord] ‘To stand before Jehovah’ was the regular term for priestly or Levitical ministration. Cp. Deuteronomy 10:8 &c.; Hebrews 10:11.

The words imply that services of praise and thanksgiving were held in the Temple at night; possibly a reference to such services is to be found in 1 Chronicles 9:33.

The addition even in the courts of the house of our God in the P.B.V. is derived through the Vulg. from the LXX, and comes from Psalm 135:2.Verse 1. - Behold. The word calls attention to an immediate need - something that is to be done, and to be done at once. Bless ye the Lord. This must mean "for us" - "on our behalf." Thank God for having brought our journey to a prosperous end. All ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord; i.e. ye special servants of the Lord, priests and Levites, now standing within his courts, and engaged in his worship. The temple was never left without a body of priests and Levites, to keep it and sing praises in it. Shiloh has been rejected (Psalm 78:60), for a time only was the sacred Ark in Bethel (Judges 20:27) and Mizpah (Judges 21:5), only somewhat over twenty years was it sheltered by the house of Abinadab in Kirjath-Jearim (1 Samuel 7:2), only three months by the house of Obed-Edom in Perez-uzzah (2 Samuel 6:11) - but Zion is Jahve's abiding dwelling-place, His own proper settlement, מנוּחה (as in Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 66:1, and besides 1 Chronicles 28:2). In Zion, His chosen and beloved dwelling-place, Jahve blesses everything that belongs to her temporal need (צידהּ for זידתהּ, vid., on Psalm 27:5, note); so that her poor do not suffer want, for divine love loves the poor most especially. His second blessing refers to the priests, for by means of these He will keep up His intercourse with His people. He makes the priesthood of Zion a real institution of salvation: He clothes her priests with salvation, so that they do not merely bring it about instrumentally, but personally possess it, and their whole outward appearance is one which proclaims salvation. And to all her saints He gives cause and matter for high and lasting joy, by making Himself known also to the church, in which He has taken up His abode, in deeds of mercy (loving-kindness or grace). There (שׁם, Psalm 133:3) in Zion is indeed the kingship of promise, which cannot fail of fulfilment. He will cause a horn to shoot forth, He will prepare a lamp, for the house of David, which David here represents as being its ancestor and the anointed one of God reigning at that time; and all who hostilely rise up against David in his seed, He will cover with shame as with a garment (Job 8:22), and the crown consecrated by promise, which the seed of David wears, shall blossom like an unfading wreath. The horn is an emblem of defensive might and victorious dominion, and the lamp (נר, 2 Samuel 21:17, cf. ניר, 2 Chronicles 21:7, lxx λύχνον) an emblem of brilliant dignity and joyfulness. In view of Ezekiel 29:21, of the predictions concerning the Branch (zemach) in Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15; Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12 (cf. Hebrews 7:14), and of the fifteenth Beracha of the Shemone-Esre (the daily Jewish prayer consisting of eighteen benedictions): "make the branch (zemach) of David Thy servant to shoot forth speedily, and let his horn rise high by virtue of Thy salvation," - it is hardly to be doubted that the poet attached a Messianic meaning to this promise. With reference to our Psalm, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, changes that supplicatory beracha of his nation (Luke 1:68-70) into a praiseful one, joyfully anticipating the fulfilment that is at hand in Jesus.
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