New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Psa 134:1 A Song of Ascents-
Or 'degrees'. Hezekiah’s response to being granted another 15 years of life was to edit and produce the Songs of Degrees, so named after the degrees of the sundial. Four of the 15 Psalms were by David, one by Solomon; and the other 10 it seems Hezekiah wrote himself but left anonymous. These ten Psalms would reflect the ten degrees by which the sun-dial went backwards. The point to note is that Hezekiah taught others in an anonymous way in response to the grace he had received. True preaching reflects a certain artless selflessness. These songs of ascents were presumably also intended to be sung by the exiles as they returned to Zion, and then every time they went up to Jerusalem to keep a feast. But there is no evidence this happened. For they didn't return in the kind of faith implied in these Psalms. The plural "ascents" would then be an intensive plural referring to the one great ascent, to Zion. Much of the language of these Psalms is typical of David's language when under persecution by Saul. But the Psalm was reapplied to Hezekiah, and then to the exiles on their return from Babylon, and then by extension to all God's people on their journey zionwards.

Look! Praise Yahweh, all you servants of Yahweh, who stand by night in Yahweh’s house!-
The only feast kept at night was Passover. Perhaps that is the feast in view, and this Psalm was to be sung by those going up to Zion to keep it.

Psa 134:2

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary. Praise Yahweh!-
This could be specifically about the priests, who were allowed into the sanctuary. Or it could be looking ahead to a day when all "servants of Yahweh" (:1), regardless of descent, could enter the sanctuary and praise Him there.

Psa 134:3

May Yahweh bless you from Zion; even He who made heaven and earth-
The blessing of Yahweh coming out of Zion was what was possible in the restored Kingdom of God; it would be associated with Yahweh Himself dwelling in Zion (Ps. 134:3; 135:21). This would be the time when the temple vision of Ez. 40-48 was obeyed by the exiles, and the city called Yahweh Shammah, "Yahweh is there". But at the time of the exiles' return, it was precluded by their impenitence and refusal to build the temple and city according to the commands of Ez. 40-48, and the fact the majority refused to participate in the program and remained in Persia / Babylon.