Friday of 5 Lent

A Liturgy of Blessing – Psalm 134

“Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord.”

Psalm 134:1

Take a moment and read Psalm 134.

We have made it to Jerusalem.  We have entered the city, rebuilt the walls, and made Zion our home.  The Temple has been restored.  And the Lord has declared His blessing over Zion.  The congregation has come together in worship and praise, and now it is time for everyone to make their way back to their homes to find rest and refreshment with their family.  The Songs of Ascent have come to their conclusion.  And what could be a better conclusion than Our Lord’s benediction from Zion.

Psalm 134 is a liturgical psalm, once again in the form of a versicle and response.  Verses 1 and 2 are sung by the congregation.  Verse 3 is sung in response by the priests—a benediction emanating from the Temple.  The Lord is sending the worshipers to their respective homes after a fruitful day of praise and worship.  The evening has come and it is time for families to retire for the night.  St. Benedict called for this psalm to be said every night at Compline, the final service of the Liturgy of the Hours.  There could be no more fitting conclusion to a day of worship and walking with the Lord.  

“Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,” the people cry out to one another.  Some Christians have trouble understanding what it means to “Bless the Lord”.  Is it not, they say, the Lord who blesses us?  Yes.  But it is the Lord who is blessed when His people come joyfully together and celebrate Him and His goodness toward us.  It is like the joy of a proud parent seeing his or her children relishing life and sharing that joy with them.  For us to “Bless the Lord” means that we praise Him with words that declare His greatness and goodness.  He is richly blessed when His children rejoice in Him.  And so the Psalmist exhorts the people to “Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord!”  And the Psalmist, and many centuries later, St. Paul, exhort the faithful to pray with holy hands uplifted.  The Psalmist says, “Lift up your hands…and bless the Lord!”  And Paul instructs, “I want men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands…” (1 Tim. 2:8).  

As noted above, Benedict calls for this Psalm to be prayed every night at Compline.  And in the service of Compline in the Book of Common Prayer you will find this psalm as one of the psalms appointed for that office.  What better way to conclude a day than to put all of the events, thoughts, victories, and troubles of the day into the hands of the Lord.  In that relinquishment of the day we can find peace for the night ahead.

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