Psalm 134

Readings for this week July 27 – 31
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Day 1 – The End of the Journey

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 134:1

This very short psalm is the last of the fifteen Songs of Ascent. This psalm is very ritualistic in its language and in its format, probably in relation to its position as the last Song of Ascent and as an appropriate way to round out this entire sequence of psalms. Although in this series we have not had the time to look at all fifteen Songs of Ascent, we must remember that the songs portray a journey, they come in a particular sequence. They are sung on the journey, on the way, and with this last psalm we have come to the end of the journey, we have reached the destination. To go through the entire sequence of songs is to go through repentance and confession and forgiveness and thanksgiving and to persevere and to cling to hope and express joy. But now, here, at the end of the journey, what do we do?

The psalmist calls upon the worshippers, the travellers, the pilgrims, to bless and praise the Lord, and God in his turn is asked to bless the worshippers. The road we travel, the road of discipleship, is a lifelong road that should end in the pilgrim praising and blessing God in a life devoted to worshipping the one who was with us on the way, the one who stooped to be with us in the midst of our lives, and the one who has promised to stay with us and bring us to the end of the road where all will gather and everything will be restored and made new. What better response could there be than to bless the Lord who loves us so?

Questions to Consider
What does blessing mean? Why is praise and blessing ultimately the only right response to God?

Prayer
Lord God, we praise your name, we lift up your name to praise and worship you. You are the only one worthy of our devotion and we sing your praises because of your goodness and love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – Not Turned Away Nor Turning Away

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 134:2

The question of what do we do now at the end of the journey is one that would have occupied the travellers to Jerusalem once they arrived in the city they had been walking towards for days, or weeks, or maybe even months. At the end point they would be feeling many different emotions, and would have many different thoughts about the trip and about their lives, families, livelihoods, homes, nation, world. Perhaps the journey would have helped them let go of their cares and worries and brought them into a state of peace and calm, ready to worship their God together with others. Or maybe their cares and woes were still playing on their minds and the journey had done nothing to alleviate them or put them in proper perspective.

Whatever their condition, they are invited to “Come bless God.” All may come and join in worship. You don’t have to have it all sorted out first. There’s no need to run and hide because your troubles are still weighing you down or because you are tired from the journey. You are here now, you have made it. Come and bless God. Whatever reason you have for not feeling like you belong here, put it out of your mind and leave it. You are here now, so come and bless God. However weary and travel stained you are and however tired you feel, you are here now, and together, supporting each other, we can come and bless God. He will not turn us away.

Questions to Consider
Why do we turn away from God? Why do we think he might turn us away?

Prayer
Lord God, help me make the most of each moment with you. You won’t turn me away, so help me not turn away when I do not feel like I can worship you or be with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – To Enjoy God Forever

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 134:3

What is the point? What is the purpose of it all? What is it that I am meant to do with my life? These are large questions, questions that all of us end up asking ourselves – and others, and God – at some point(s) in our lives. These are important questions and having an answer to them is one part of the multifaceted web of meaning that is crucial for our sense of well-being and stability. And while many of us find partial answers, or answers to narrowed-down versions of these questions – what should I study? What job should I aim for? Where should I live? – the larger answer to the larger question is often forgotten.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism states that we were created “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” There is not much else involved in the journey of discipleship. There are many important, short term resolutions to some of the questions life poses to us and these are not to be ignored. But the main thing to remember, the thing that qualifies all other questions and answers and longings and activities, is that we were created by God and designed to be loved by him and to love him in return, and that our beginning and our end and our very being are found in him. And, also, that this is joyful news. Our lives are to be lived in the reality of the joy found in God and in his love for us. We are to enjoy him. We are to bless him. We are to share this love with others so that they can experience this blessing too.

Questions to Consider
What does “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever” mean to you? What do you think that will look like? Why?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, we look to the day when your dwelling place is among your people, when you dwell with us. We will be your people, and you yourself will be with us and be our God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Passing the Blessing On

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Genesis 12:1-3

Right back in the beginning, in the book of Genesis, when God called Abram, we read about God’s reason for doing so: God promised to bless Abram so that, in turn, he would be a blessing to others. The gifts that God gives are never gifts meant to stop at the first person receiving them. They are intended to be passed on, so that the gift and its impact expands to more and more people. The process of blessing that God starts is one that is meant to continue. He kicks it off and ensures that it carries on by calling us to participate in it. God blesses us and so we bless God. And that which we have received, we pass on. The theory is that the more the people of God experience blessing and know what it is to receive his blessing, the better they themselves will get at blessing.

One of the best things about this life of blessing that God invites us into is that “we don’t have to wait until we get to the end of the road to enjoy what is at the end of the road”. (Eugene Peterson). The eternity of perfect love and fellowship with God and each other has, in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, travelled back down the road to meet us, to empower us, to give us a foretaste of life in the fullness of God’s eternal kingdom. Blessing God and blessing others brings that reality into being with each other here and now, on the road.

Questions to Consider
Why do blessings need to be shared? What becomes of a blessing that we do not pass on? What becomes of one that we do?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you that we do not have to wait to the end of the journey to bless and praise your wonderful name and to pass that blessing on to others. Thank you for meeting us on the way, for travelling with us as we go, and for revealing yourself to us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Rhythms for the Journey

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 150

Whatever we thought 2020 was going to be like, I am sure for most of us it has taken anything but the path we thought it might, or hoped it would. We have taken the time throughout this series on the Songs of Ascent psalms to emphasise that even – especially – in times as uncertain as this, it is important to watch, wait and listen. Seeking God, waiting upon him and listening to what he has been saying to us, individually and collectively, is crucially important. At all stages the journey of discipleship is a journey deeper into God and closer to each other. For some, these last 3-4 months of the journey have shown the importance of the rhythms of prayer and meditation upon God’s word that were already established in their lives. For others, they have realised the importance of these rhythms for everyday life and devotion and have implemented them and found a new closeness with God.

The psalms will always be a crucial part of the journey. They are the songbook of God’s people, in all times and for all occasions. All of human experience and life is in them, and in them we meet God at every juncture, at every turn, always there before us. As we carry on down the road, laughing, fuming, singing, weeping; as we wait upon God, seeking his direction; as we listen for his voice and listen to his words – the myriad voices of the psalms wait with us.

Questions to Consider
How have you connected with God over the last 3-4 months? How have you engaged in new ways of communing with him? What has he said to you during this time?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, your presence, your patience, your teaching, your voice, your leading, your guidance, your love – thank you for being with us, thank you for staying with us, thank you for changing us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)