Bible Readings and Devotion for April 25 & 26, 2020
Here are the references for the readings. Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:
Devotion for April 25 & 26, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
The Psalms include some of the shortest chapters in the Bible. The numerous psalms today are some of those short ones. Psalm 134 contains three verses, yet these are tremendous.
Verse 1: “1 Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord!”
This is an invitation to the people of God to know and honor the Lord. It is a call to worship of sorts. It is a, “Song of Ascents.” These are songs which the people sang in celebration of the Lord’s goodness and glory. They sang these as they went up to or ascended to the city of Jerusalem, and then to the Temple itself. The most well know of these psalms is 121. We looked at that one a few days ago.
It includes the statement, “…bless the Lord…” This seems an odd statement, for we strongly understand that God blesses us in bountiful ways. Author and teacher John Piper notes the following about this phrase: “It means to speak well of his greatness and goodness — and really mean it from the depths of your soul.” Another angle on this is that to, “bless the Lord,” we are giving thanks for all that God has done, is doing, and will do, for us and the world.
The next part of this verse tells of the various servants of the Lord who work in the nighttime. These priests and Levites were designated workers, assistants, and worship leaders set apart by the Lord and by the people for work in the Temple. This and other passages seem to indicate that worship and sacrifices were also offered at night. This psalm celebrates that God is given praise and glory all the time, even at night.
Verse 2: “Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the Lord.”
This is one of various places in scripture which note the raising of one’s hands in praise of the Lord. The gesture indicates that the object of praises was the Lord and that the whole person is involved in the act. This practice has continued to the present day among Jews and Christians. For some of you reading this the idea of raising hands in worship, whether alone or among fellow Christians, seems fully acceptable. For others, this action might feel less comfortable. No one is required to raise one’s hands in worship. This is simply a joyful expression of faith. In the event that you see brother or sister in Christ raising hands in praise, do your best to celebrate that they love the Lord. Giving them dirty looks or speaking in a disparaging manner does not build up faith and unity. If the Holy Spirit stirs you to raise your hands, but others around you don’t do it, please respect their choice and faith expression.
Verse 3: “May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.”
The people are heading to Zion, the hill on which the Temple was built. They are blessed to be a blessing. They celebrate that God’s goodness is for all. The one true God shares his generous provision with humanity. As people receive the goodness, they are reminded that is it from the Lord who dwells in the Temple, and in the spiritual hearts of his people. This reminds us that the Lord our God is about others, rather than self. We are invited to turn our hearts and love toward our neighbors and toward God.
The psalm reminds us of three things:
1) We get to respond to God’s love by blessing him, by showing our loving thanks all day and all night, whenever we are awake.
2) We get to show our appreciation of the Lord through motion, including the raising of our hands.
3) God is self-giving and other focused. By God’s Holy Spirit, we can do the same.
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we humbly thank you for your goodness to us and to all that you have made. We praise you for your creation, for keeping us and all things in your care, and for all the blessings of life. Above all we bless you for your immeasurable love in redeeming the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies that with thankful hearts we praise you, not only with our lips but in our lives, by giving ourselves to your service and by living in your gifts of holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all worship and praise, now and forever. Amen.