“Who does the Lord allow to stand in his house at night?” I couldn’t let go of that question …
About three miles into my hike yesterday, I took my Bible from my backpack and turned to Psalm one-hundred-twenty-and-something and began reading. I was out in an open field, on a narrow trail lined with tall autumn-colored grass lying down from the previous day’s rainstorm and freezing temperatures. The words were jostling about as I tried to find steady ground in the thick mud.
Finally, I reached “Psalm 134: A song of ascents” and a phrase in these three brief stanzas landed with me:
Now bless the Lord,
all you servants of the Lord
WHO STANDS IN THE LORD’S HOUSE AT NIGHT!
Lift up your hands in the holy place
and bless the Lord!
May the Lord,
Maker of heaven and earth,
bless you from Zion.
“Who does the Lord allow to stand in his house at night?” I couldn’t let go of that question as I walked the final three miles. I was curious about the actual identity of who the Lord allows in his house.
At first, I assumed this text referred to the four “living creatures” in God’s heavenly chambers, later detailed by John in the book of Revelation. I imagined heaven at night and the Lord entrusting watch over his heavenly spaces to these servants. The Bible says Heaven will be lit with God’s eternal light, so there will be no night/no darkness in Heaven. According to Revelation 8:8, these living creatures worship without ceasing, day and night, with song.
Still, something drew me to use my imagination anyway, and I envisioned an enormous palace lit by the moon. The Lord was asleep in his bedroom and his trusted servants were guarding his dwelling place.
What must the Lord’s house be like at night? I imagined it to be like his temple: absolutely still – the very essence of peace – thick with the presence of God. I imagined God, despite being at rest, sharing in full soul communication with his nightwatchmen, opening them up to his spirit, and dreams, and prophetic visions.
Scripture commentaries reveal the Psalmist is referring here to the priests and Levites. These men patrolled God’s holy temple through the hours of night and also sang praises to their Lord. These were not random security guards or small groups of men. According to MacLaren’s Expositions, “240 priests and Levites were the nightly guard, distributed over twenty-one stations. The captain of the guard visited these stations throughout the night with flaming torches before him, and saluted each with ‘Peace be unto thee.'”
His earthly servants got to enjoy not only his house, but also his presence within the temple walls. Can you imagine the sense of spirit and communion they must have felt with their God, and what it must feel like to be entrusted with such a responsibility of keeping his house in order?
These men must have felt especially close to the Lord’s heart. Their directive was to stand watch and not unlock the doors of his courts and let evil in. We are entrusted with the same responsibility, only instead of God’s temple, it’s our hearts we must protect.