1 Praise the LORD, all you his servants, as you serve with one accord; Praise the LORD in your night watches in the temple of the LORD.
2 Raise your hands within his temple; to the LORD your God give praise. 3 He who made the earth and heavens bless you from his holy place!
How often do you get tired of waiting for something? We appear to be living in a world where anything short of instant seems unacceptable to many. But how realistic is such an attitude? Our reading today would suggest otherwise. Today’s Psalm draws to a close a series of Psalms that are collectively described as ‘Psalms of Ascent’. This is not about ascending the hill to the temple in Jerusalem, but rather the ascent of the sun (sunrise). These Psalms were a wake up call in the second Temple in Jerusalem, built following the exile in Babylon. They were a call to prayer before the start of the day’s work. Work for what might be regarded as the basic grade of priests. It was their task to prepare the Temple for the first time of prayer of each day at about 9am to us. Sacrifices had to be slaughtered and the whole Temple cleaned and made ready for worship.
The Psalm begins with a call to worship. Hebrew does not have a word that translates into English as “come”, but uses the word hinneh that usually translates as “Behold”. It instils the idea of laying on of hands in blessing. In verse two the attendants were asked to pray (lift up their arms). If we were to follow their example then each day would begin by praying before we start our work for that day.
Verse three is a benediction that emphasises that out of both learning and experiences within the church enables us to regard turning to God in prayer as natural as breathing. But do we? Even when we meet for worship, is our first consideration a prayerful relationship with God; or are we more interested in conversations with other members of the congregation, even if our conversations disturb others who prefer and are at prayer?
Lord, prepare us to single mindedness to worship You, whether at home, work or in the worshipping fellowship of your gathered church. Cast aside distractions, so that our whole focus is worshipping You from the start of the day until it’s ending. Amen
The Rev’d Colin Hunt, retired minister, worshipping at Hutton & Shenfield Union Church, Essex
Sing Psalms! (C) The Psalmody and Worship Committee of the Free Church of Scotland