Thursday, January 28, 2016

a reflection on prolonged worship

“Let us go to his dwelling place;
let us worship at his footstool!”
Psalm 132:7

This verse is taken from a "psalm of ascents". These were a collection of psalms that pilgrims sang as they made their way toward Jerusalem (an uphill journey), culminating in their ascent up the Temple Mount of Zion itself. Psalm 132 puts in lyric the history of the temple, first extolling David's resolve to procure Zion as the temple location, then moving to the blessings God bestowed on the king, and then ending with the majesty of Zion not because David chose it, but because God chose it and blessed Israel with His presence there as they worship Him.

Right near the middle of the psalm is this simple call to worship. It is a call for the pilgrim to think about the reality of the destination of Zion. It is a call to commit to the journey that culminates in the worship of the Lord. In that worship the power, might, and provision of God would be experienced by all (see Psalm 132:15-18).

When you consider that devout Israelites made at least one journey per year to Jerusalem to the temple for at least one feast, this was quite a regular momentum of worship. They travelled for weeks to go to the temple, by foot, towing sacrifices and family along. These songs, the long journey there and back again, and the destination itself all become a kind of prolonged worship, fueled by the psalms of ascent as they focused on God. The anticipation of God's work was as much worship as the temple practices and the feasts themselves. The Word of God in these psalms provided a daily rhythm of worship for each step of the journey. And God's Word can do the same today if we would just get into that attitude of prolonged worship!

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