A Song for the Dead of Night

Psalm 134

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

Oh, praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
you who serve at night in the house of the Lord.
Lift your hands toward the sanctuary,
and praise the Lord.

May the Lord, who made heaven and earth,
bless you from Jerusalem.

During times of pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the temple was no doubt packed. Throngs of people from all over, come to make sacrifices and worship the Lord, filled the streets. Likewise, the priests, busy with their duties, and entrepreneurs, peddling their wares to out-of-town folks, filled the temple until it was a sea of people. Chaotic commotion was everywhere.

But then there’s this psalm written for the priests serving in the dead of night, the time of service few would see, no matter how busy it was during the day. Maybe the Levites were standing guard. Maybe they were tending the fire. Maybe they were simply cleaning and resetting for the next days’ events and sacrifices. None of those things seem particularly glamorous or exciting, but Psalm 134 sings of the sacredness of the overnight shift. It calls the priests to praise the Lord, even as their work goes unseen, perhaps unnoticed, for their work is still sacred and the Lord is worthy to be praised.

As I think about calling, I realize how difficult it is when your calling is unseen, seemingly too routine to be holy. As a mom, the only one who sees what I do most of the time is my son. I think of the endless stream of mundane stuff and it’s all too easy to forget the sacredness of this life. The Lord called me to this season. This is my vocation. In the midst of dirty diapers, chicken nuggets, laundry, and even those exhausted overnight shifts with a sick kid I am to praise the Lord. You have a sacred calling, too; we’re all called to worship the Lord in our work, no matter what it is we do.

The most important reason that we are to stop and praise the Lord in the lonely, quiet moments is because even when no one else sees, the Lord is watching. Nothing is hidden from his sight. He sees our work all the time, whether it’s pushing papers or a broom, cooking a family or for a thousand, comforting a sick baby or a grieving widow. He sees what no one else does and is blessed by our praise.

He sees you right now, no matter what time you’re reading this. This moment is one for worship. May you lift up praise in recognition of your sacred calling and his faithful presence in both the light of day and the dead of night. May the Lord who made heaven and earth bless you.

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