Invitation to Night Prayer
1 A song of ascents.
Come forth to bless the Lord,
all you servants of the Lord,[b]
who minister throughout the night
in the house of the Lord.
2 Lift up your hands toward[c] the sanctuary
and bless the Lord.
3 May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth,
bless you from Zion.[d]
- Psalm 134:1 As the pilgrims leave the temple and invite the priests to keep up their praise during the night, the latter direct to them a blessing that brings to a close the Songs of Ascents, the Pilgrim’s Psalter, just as Ps 117 concludes the collection of Alleluia (or Hallelujah) Psalms (Pss 111–117).
This psalm should remind us that Jesus spent whole nights in prayer (see Lk 6:12) and that he urged the disciples to pray always and not lose heart (see Lk 18:1), a point reiterated by Paul in his first Letter: “Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thes 5:17f). Hence, this dialogued hymn can be exchanged between Christians on earth: those who are often taken away from divine praise by their earthly duties should ask those who are better prepared for this (priests and religious) to assure in their name the work of praise that is so necessary.
- Psalm 134:1 The psalmist calls upon the priests and Levites to lead the people in worship. These are the servants of the Lord who minister (literally, “stand”) in the house of the Lord. The priestly and Levitical ministry is often designated by the verb “stand” (see Ps 135:2; Deut 10:8), and they offered up musical praise to the Lord both day and night (see 1 Chr 9:33; 23:26, 30).
- Psalm 134:2 The priests and Levites also prayed with hands lifted up (see Ps 28:2; 1 Tim 2:8) toward the sanctuary (see 1 Ki 8:30).
- Psalm 134:3 The words of this verse recall the words spoken by the priests when blessing (see Num 6:24f). The blessing follows the people wherever they may go or live, because it comes from the Maker of heaven and earth, i.e., the Great King of the universe (see Ps 121:2). Yet, like God’s commandments, the blessing is not “beyond reach,” not “in heaven,” nor “beyond the sea,” but “very near” (see Deut 30:11-14; Rom 10:6ff)—from Zion. And it is the true Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, where Jesus the “mediator of a new covenant” reigns in the midst of his people (see Heb 12:22-24).