Monday, July 11, 2011


Sometimes we forget how spiritual the Old Testament is with its many blessings. We think only the New Testament has spiritual truth. But this is not so. Some of the shortest chapters in the Bible give us strong spiritual words of encouragement. Take a look at Psalm 131, 133, and 134.

Psalm 131 reminds us of humility. Psalm 133 speaks about brotherly kindness and fellowship. And Psalm 134 reminds us of the blessings of the coming kingdom of the Messiah. All three Psalms are just three verses long!

These Psalms are called "Songs of Ascent" or "The Psalms of Going Up," that is, going up to Jerusalem. The Rabbis write about them: "They are literary gems of exquisite beauty and surpassing spirituality." We are not told why these verses are written. They are the compositions of King David! When David began to write he said: "I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes. … I will celebrate before the Lord" (2 Sam. 6:21-22).

David did not want his heart and his eyes to be haughty and lofty (131:1). He did not want to "exercise himself in things too great, or in things too wonderful for himself" (v. 1b). He wanted to write about basic and simple things, things that were spiritual in nature but not too complicated!

David wanted his soul to be quieted and still (v. 2). He wanted his soul to be like a weaned child. When he said he did not want to exercise himself in things too great, he meant that he did not want to "walk about" in high and mighty ideas (v. 1b).

"Forever," David wants to continually "hope in the Lord" (v. 3). The Rabbis add that he wanted to be "waiting continually and submissively for God to guide his destiny" (v. 3b). The Rabbis go on: David the poet "avows that ambitious thoughts had entered his mind, but he had damped down their fire so that he enjoys an inner serenity and content. … David must have written this Psalm in his early life when he was a shepherd."

David says that it is good "and pleasant for brothers to dwell together in unity" (133:1). It is like pouring precious olive oil over the head. It drips down from the top of the head, down upon the beard, "Even Aaron's head" (the High Priest), down upon the collar of his garments (v. 2). The hot sun blistered the top of the head, the face, and the shoulders. Thus, olive oil was used like a sun-tan oil that soothed the skin. Olive oil was a blessing. It was used for cooking and for healing the skin when it is burned! It was also used, as the Rabbis note, for anointing and consecrating the High Pries (Exod. 29:7). The word "consecrating" means to treat as holy. The High Priest represented God to the people, and represented the people to God.

The effects of relating to each other, being like-minded, was like living together where the fellowship "spread throughout the nation" (v. 2). The pouring of the oil was like the dew of Mount Hermon, that watered the mountains of Zion down the river Jordan. The dew and the rain blessed the valley below. The snows and rains on Hermon gushed down the Jordan and watered the fields down-river (v. 3). The Rabbis say: "The dew of Hermon is a phrase denoting exceedingly heavy dew; and as such moisture proves beneficial to the vegetation on the slopes of these hills, so will the dwelling together of the Jews be of great benefit to them in the land."

The Rabbis add: "Hermon is noted for the abundance of the dew that falls on it slopes. This dew gives fertility to the soil; and similarly the ideal which the Psalm extols will invigorate the whole people" of the Jews.

The Jews, who are God's servants, are to "bless the Lord that stand in the house of the Lord in the night seasons" (134:1). The Rabbis note that the Levites were to minister to the Lord in their work "day and night" (v. 1b). "They are exhorted to fill the night with prayer as well as watchfulness, and to let their hearts go up in blessing to God." "Their voice of praise should echo through the silent night and float over the sleeping city."

The Jews were expressive in their praise. They were "to lift up their hands to the sanctuary (the temple), and bless the Lord" (v. 2). The "lifting of the hands" is an expression of holding up the hands waiting for the Lord to bestow His goodness to His servants. The "Sanctuary" is more than the temple, it refers to lifting up the hands towards the Holy of Holies.

The Lord in turn "blesses them out of Zion; even He that made heaven and earth" (v. 3). This will not fully come until the Kingdom arrives. The messianic Kingdom rule goes beyond the land of Israel. It is also about the fact that the God who will reign someday is the One who created the entire universe! The Lord God is no small God! He is the One who owns it all. He made the world and all that is in it. We cannot speak of the God of the Scriptures without thinking of His greatness and of all that He has done!

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow!"

—Dr. Mal Couch (7/11)