Psalm 134 Translation and comment

A song of ascents or degrees

“Come bless Yahweh

All you slaves of Yahweh

Who stand by night

In Yahweh’s house;

Hold up your hands

Towards the Holy Place

And bless Yahweh.”

“And from Zion may Yahweh bless you,

Maker of heaven and earth.”

The psalmist presents himself as one of a group of pilgrims who encourage the temple priests to offer night worship to Yahweh. This is unseen worship which comes from faithfulness rather than public duty: the God of all times is worshipped at all times. Holding up hands was a sign of prayer in Israel, directed in this case towards the holy place or maybe the Holy of Holies. The singer of the psalm may imagine this liturgy being performed on his or her behalf. I maybe negligent but faithful people hold up their hands for me.

The last two lines I see as the reply of the temple priest to the pilgrims, who have come to Zion, where Yahweh and his people are blessed. To bless God means to share our human goodness with God, as we receive the goodness of the maker of heaven and earth n our earthly lives.

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