We began our service last week with a call to worship from Psalm 134. Since then I’ve been thinking about the words of this Psalm, and it struck me that there’s something strange about that. See if you can spot it:
Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD,
who stand by night in the house of the LORD!
Lift up your hands to the holy place
and bless the LORD!
May the LORD bless you from Zion,
he who made heaven and earth! (Ps 134)
Here’s what struck me: This Psalm is a call not just for the LORD to bless us, but also for us to bless the LORD.
This strikes many people as strange. We’re familiar (or at least we should be familiar) with the idea that the LORD blesses us: right from the earliest pages of the Bible (Gen 1:28) he has blessed his people by showing them kindness, giving us gifts of life and breath and everything else, sharing himself with us and inviting us to know him. So he blesses us.
But what could it possible mean for us to bless him? We don’t do any of these things for God. He doesn’t need anything from us – he’s completely sufficient in himself. And yet he still calls on us to “bless” him. What could this mean?
Here’s one explanation I came across:
“God blesses human beings by speaking well of them, thereby imparting ‘blessing’ (good things) to them, and so they are ‘blessed’; human beings bless God by speaking well of him, attributing ‘blessing’ (good qualities) to him, and so he is ‘blessed’ – i.e. praised and praiseworthy ... God blesses people by conferring good on them; we bless God by praising the good in him.” (NIDOTTE, 1:764)
So that’s what Ps 134 calls upon us to do: to “bless” God in the sense of speaking well of him, declaring to the world what’s so good about him, extolling his wonderful character and glorious deeds.