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Psalm 134

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Greetings of Night Watchers
MT Intro
A Song of Ascents.
Praising the Lord in His House at Night A Liturgy of Blessing A Call to Praise God For the Evening Liturgy
134:1-3 134:1-2 134:1-2 134:1-2 134:1-2
  134:3 134:3 134:3 134:3

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 134:1-3
 1Behold, bless the Lord, all servants of the Lord,
 Who serve by night in the house of the Lord
 2Lift up your hands to the sanctuary
 And bless the Lord.
 3May the Lord bless you from Zion,
 He who made heaven and earth.

134:1 "bless" This verb (BDB 138, KB 159) appears three times in this short Psalm.

1-2. Piel imperative - Ps. 134:1,2

3. Piel imperfect used in a jussive sense - Ps. 134:3

The synonym (BDB 80) occurs often in the Psalms. See full note at Ps. 1:1. For this term (BDB 139) see SPECIAL TOPIC: BLESSING (OT). In Ps. 1:1 it is the faithful follower who is blessed, here it is Israel's God (see Special Topic: Characteristics of Israel's God).

▣ "all servants of the Lord" This denotes conscious creation (i.e., angels, humans, possibly other levels of spiritual beings, see Special Topic: Angels in Paul's Writings). A good parallel to this concept is (1) Ps. 103:19-22, where the same verb is used three times for the angelic world; (2) Ps. 135:1-4, where three "praises" (BDB 237, KB 248, Piel imperative) are used of the priests and Levites.

There were five different kinds of temple servants.

1. priests

2. Levites

3. singers

4. gatekeepers

5. the lowest servants (see NIDOTTE, vol. 3, pp. 203-204)

 

▣ "Who serve by night in the house of the Lord" This is mentioned again in Ps. 135:1-4. It refers to the descendants of Levi's family from Aaron who served in the temple in Jerusalem (lit. "stand," BDB 763, KB 840, strongly implies temple priests or Levites). The prepositional phrase, "by night" (BDB 538) means "all day long," not just those who kept watch at night (cf. 1 Chr. 9:33).

There is a parallel phrase in Ps. 135:2 which adds an additional descriptive phrase (i.e., LXX, NJB).

134:2 "Lift up your hands to the sanctuary" The verb (BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperative) denotes the actions of priests. In Num. 6:24-26; Lev. 9:2, they bless (BDB 138, KB 159) the people by lifting up their hands, but here they "bless" YHWH who resides in His temple between the wings of the Cherubim over the "Mercy Seat" in the Holy of Holies.

The phrase "lifting the hand" can refer to several separate things.

1. taking an oath - cf. Gen. 14:22; Exod. 6:8; Num. 14:30; Ps. 106:26; Ezek. 20:5 (implied in Ezra 10:5)

2. act of rebellion - 2 Sam. 20:21

3. for blessing - Lev. 9:22; Ps. 134:2; Luke 24:50; 1 Tim. 2:8

4. sign of YHWH's actions - Ps. 10:12; Mic. 5:9

5. the gesture is a general way of referring to prayer - Exod. 9:29,33; 1 Kgs. 8:22,38-39; Ezra 9:5; Ps. 28:2; 63:4; 141:2; 1 Tim. 2:8

The Rotherham's Emphasized Bible translates "sanctuary" in a way that refers to the priests themselves (i.e., lift up your hands in holiness, cf. Lev. 21:6; 2 Chr. 23:6; Ezra 8:28). See SPECIAL TOPIC: HOLY.

134:3a This line of poetry shows the reciprocal relationship between blessing YHWH (i.e., worship) and Him blessing (BDB 138, KB 159, Piel imperfect used in a jussive sense) His covenant people (cf. Ps. 128:5).

▣ "Zion" See Special Topic: Zion.

134:3b YHWH is characterized as the creator (cf. Ps. 115:15; 121:2; 124:8; 134:3; 136:5; 146:6). This concluding phrase may hint at the theological thrust of Ps. 134:1, that "servants" includes both inanimate and animate creation.