“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.”
Psalms 134:1-3 NLT
Another Psalm from the pilgrim’s song book. A short one, easily remembered, and with a refrain that echoed around the crowd as they ascended up to Jerusalem. Perhaps in the way a football crowd will start a song, lustily singing in support of their team.
This time the song encouraged the priests in their nightly worship of God. Encouraging them to lift their hands in the direction of where they understood God to dwell. And the last verse is one entreating our wonderful Creator God to bless His people, right from the seat of His power in Jerusalem.
Two thoughts came my way today as I meditated on this Psalm – where does God live and when we worship Him what do we do with our hands? To the Israelites, God had to live somewhere. It was either the tabernacle in the wilderness, a portable building – its blueprint is detailed in Exodus – or the elaborate temple buildings erected in Jerusalem. In the AD years, churches and cathedrals have dominated towns and cities throughout Western societies. Ornate and decorated with statues of saints, stained glass windows and a variety of edifices, they have been the focus of worship in many generations. But where does God really live? Perhaps the best indication is what Jesus said. After all, He is God’s Son. In Matthew 6:9 we read, “… Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name“. So we know that God lives in a place called Heaven and we also know that Jesus is there, preparing a home for us (John 14). So it must be a real place. But its location in the universe is unknown – perhaps mankind doesn’t yet have the technology to find it. Perhaps only God can reveal it to us. Or it may be in a different physical form beyond our comprehension. We also know that we will be given new bodies when we get there (1 Corinthians 15). However, we can assure ourselves a future in Heaven by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. There will be an exciting time for us when we cross the “great divide”.
My second thought today concerns what we do with our hands when we worship God. There is the traditional religious pose of putting our outstretched hands facing upwards, palm to palm, finger to finger, holding them close to our chests. Not too ostentatious. Not bringing attention to ourselves. Or in wild abandon, we can stretch out our arms and hands upwards to the heavens, in a deeply felt heart attitude of worship to our Creator God. But what is in our hearts is the key. What are we thinking about when we worship God? Are we reviewing what we watched on TV last night, or are we overwhelmed by God’s love and kindness to us, and in response reaching out to our Heavenly Dad? Stretching upwards with every sinew in worship to God, expressing what is within. God has done so much for us – how can we not respond to His love and grace in whatever way we can? Wherever He lives.