Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Night Worship Among the Dragons and Lions

“Behold, praise ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, ye that by night stand in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands to the Sanctuary, and praise the Lord. The Lord that hath made heaven and earth, bless thee out of Zion(Psalm 134:1-3, Geneva Bible). This Psalm, part of the pilgrimage “Songs of Ascent” cycle, has always seemed so peaceful to me. I have imagined the peaceful silence of the Temple in the middle of the night with the flickering torches reflecting beautifully off of the gold-plated walls. What peaceful beauty for those who stand to worship in the night!

But the other Psalm readings for today remind me that this is not always the case for God’s pilgrims in this world. Sometimes those who stand in the darkness to worship stand in the midst of dragons and lions:
  • “Our heart is not turned back: neither our steps gone out of Thy paths, albeit Thou hast smitten us down into the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death” (44:18,19).
  • “Give not the soul of Thy turtle dove unto the beast, and forget not the Congregation of Thy poor forever. Consider Thy covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of the cruel” (74:19,20).
  • “My soul, praise thou the Lord: O Lord my God, Thou art exceeding great, Thou art clothed with glory and honor. He appointed the moon for certain seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. Thou makest darkness, and it is night, wherein all the beasts of the forest creep forth. The lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat at God” (104:19-21). 
In the night, stand and lift your hands to the God our “Shepherd,” Who sometimes, in His perfect wisdom and providence, leads us “through the valley of the shadow of death” (24:1,4).

“As the providence of God in general reaches to all creatures, so, in a more special manner, it takes care of His church, and governs all things to the good of His church” (1689 Baptist Confession, 5.7).

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