Summary: God blesses us by coming down to us, by ’kneeling’in a gesture of grace and salvation. In response we are to bless Him with praise and worship, commitment and service.
“Songs for the Road #15: Blessing”
This is our last song for the road—we’ve reached the end of the journey. What does the end look like? The end looks like Psalm 134. And this Psalm really sums up what the Christian is all about in some ways. It summarizes God’s grace and our response.
Kneeling in church—have you ever done it? Have you ever knelt while praying or worshipping? How does it make you feel? Is it hard to do?
In Psalm 134 the word “bless” appears three times. It might be translated “praise” in your Bible. When we are told to “bless the Lord” here we are being told to give reverence to God. It implies a continual and conscious giving first place to God. It is telling us to be attuned to His presence. It is an act of praise and worship. It is what we do when we think about how the God we worship is the maker of heaven and earth and has blessed us.
In the Hebrew “to bless” also means “to kneel.” Kneeling was significant in Hebrew worship. The knees were regarded as a symbol of strength—“to bend the knee is, therefore, to bend our strength before the living God.” We acknowledge all that we have comes from Him. It means, literally, bringing a gift on bended knee. In this case, we bring our gift of worship.
This is similar to when a man proposes marriage to a woman. Looking up this tradition online, this is what I found: “The man is offering himself wholeheartedly to the woman, without reservations, elevating her to an exalted position in their relationship, and offering her the choice to determine the course of their relationship.”
Now many husbands here knelt when you proposed and did you know that it meant this? Have you elevated your wife to an exalted position and given her the choice to determine the course of your relationship?
There’s another good description of this tradition that goes like this: “The idea of asking for a loved one’s hand in marriage while partially kneeling is a highly symbolic gesture embodying the very essence of committing one’s life to another.”
There are some important words here: wholeheartedly, offering, without reservations, exalted, commitment. Even if we haven’t done this without our spouses, should we not do this with God?
This isn’t easy to do. I guarantee that if I asked everyone here to kneel right now that you’d be very uncomfortable doing so.
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, or been very involved in doing something, and had someone approach you and say, “Ahem!”? What is that like? Do you feel interrupted?
You see, God knows that blessing Him and kneeling before Him with our gifts of worship and praise isn’t natural to us. He knows we need reminding. That’s why Psalm 134 begins as it does. It says, “Come,” or “Behold.”
One OT scholar says that this is the equivalent of God saying, “Ahem!” or “Attention, please!” God is asking us to stop what we’re doing, to interrupt our thoughts, and to pay attention to Him.
This Psalm was likely written for the Levitical priests who would lead worship in the Temple. One person has said, “If the priests working in the Temple needed reminding to praise the Lord, how much more do we?”
Most of us begin the day with a million thoughts on our minds. Or if not, it doesn’t take long before our minds fill up with everything we need to do and worry about.
“Since you can only think one thought at a time, the time you spend praising the Lord is time you won’t be able to spend feeling bad about your situation.” In other words, why not focus on the Lord in praise and blessing and worship and prayer rather than focus on all those things that make life hard and difficult?
Friday night at youth group we read the story of David and Goliath and talked about “giants” that we all face. Max Lucado has a book called Facing Your Giants. The lesson he draw for us is this: focus on giants—you stumble. Focus on God—giants tumble.
We are called here to bless the Lord—and reminded that it doesn’t matter whether we feel like it or not. God wants us to shift our attention to Him. And like I said, this isn’t easy. It takes a lifetime of practice.
Now the really strange thing about this Psalm is that it not only says that we are to bless God, but that God blesses us. Why is this strange, you ask? Because the same word is used, the one that also means “to kneel.”
So is the Psalm saying that God kneels? In some ways, this is exactly what it is saying. Not that God worships and praises us, but that He does good things to us and among us: He blesses us.