Unity in the Kingdom – 13 in a Series Songs of Ascents Psalm 133-134

Unity in the Kingdom
13thin Series – Songs of Ascent
Psalms 133-134
Good morning,
  Today is 13thand final in a series Songs of Ascent – Psalms 133-134. Normally, I would write about one Psalm in each writing but, I noticed from these last two go together. According to the Blue Letter Bible, Psalm 133 was inserted toward the end of David’s life (1 Chronicles 28:21), and 134 was written on the return from exile (Ezra 3:7); so, you have an extended period of time and events.  I have found throughout this series and through the reading of the word of God that all of the writings have a purpose and reason for their placement. When we read the Psalms, we see 150 Psalms but, that is not the way they were written. In the beginning of this series, the 120thPsalm spoke about “breaking away from the treacherous” and now culminating with “Unity in the Kingdom” all of this comes about through a process of time, struggles, and above all pain. Man is not accustomed to things taking time and for it runs ahead of the game “Running with Your Head Turned”. God knows that we need to take baby steps in all that we do because, he matures us as we go along so that we are able to face the next battle “Strength for the Next Storm”. It would be very nice and expedient if we were whisked into Heaven (raptured) so as to skip over the trouble but, that is simply not reality. God takes through the journey so that we understand the value of our relationship with God and with each other; only then do we treasure it like one of our most prized possessions (Matthew 13:45-46).
As we are approaching the last step to the Temple of God, I want to remind you that it is at this point where the wheels come off and problems crop up. Moses had led the nation for over 40 years and just before the nation was to enter Canaan, it was then that he forgot himself and for his actions, was not allowed to enter the promised land (Numbers 20:1-13). In the same way many today have been disqualified for service because of a mistake in judgement on our part. God forgives sin, that is absolutely true; however, what you do not read in scripture is a case where God lets us off of the hook for our decisions. My prayer for you today is that you will finish the race strong and that nothing will stop you from walking the path God has for you.
Point 1 – Unity in View of Turmoil (Psalm 133)
The Hebrew word for “unity” as it applies to this Psalm is yachad which means “harmony”. By man’s very nature, harmony is not one of our native traits; because, as humans go, we like things “our way” and we are very hard-headed; or, as scripture puts it “stiff necked”(Exodus 33:5).  So, why would the writer admonish the people to be in harmony (verse 1)?  Because, God will not dwell where there is discord (James 3:16). You will never see a church or family for that matter where there is discord and a powerful move of God at the same time. So, we need to decide for our self what we’ll have in our family: discord or unity. From there, we bring that into our home/family/church. There is a term I want to introduce you to, “choosing by default”. In choosing to unite with others, we are choosing to not allow turmoil in the world to alter God’s best for our life. Conversely, choosing to not unite we are in fact stating “I chose to allow turmoil to control my life “.
Turmoil is a natural part of the human experience (Ecclesiastics 2:23). No one gets through life without facing it at one time or another. No one likes it but, it does serve a purpose. During the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon was at the zenith of its power; it was a model city that every nation wanted to be part of.  In the years following Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon was in flux as it came to grips with its world being shattered by the wars and threats to its autonomy or, the birth pains of something new.  In the same way, Israel in the time of King David and Solomon, the nation was a mighty force; in the years following, the nation was in flux as it grappled with “who am I now since that which defined me is gone”? Good times tend to cause us to become comfortable and we are not so willing to move beyond where we are in life; that is, until something changes in our life and/or the world around us. From this change, we are more willing to be pliable and willing to let go and move on in life. Turmoil is not the end of our world but, in all reality, it is the beginning of something new and we can be a part of it or, a forgotten stone in the path.
Point 2 – Standing the Midwatch (Psalms 134:1-2)
The closing Psalm of this series asks God for blessings over the Priests who stood the midwatch in the temple. Being custodian of the temple is not a boobie prize nor, is it for the weak willed. Anyone who entered the Temple to serve must do so respectfully and completely in line with the Word of God. The priest’s job was to keep the candles burning, the temple secure, and to seek the face of God on behalf of the nation through prayer and petition. Like all jobs of the priests, the priest is held accountable by God for happened on the priest’s watch. As parents and leaders, we are tasked with protecting our home, children, and those we lead. In the same way that the Aaronic priests were commissioned to service by the anointing of God, so are parents. Having the anointing of God upon our lives is great; however, if we waste it by not acting upon it, it will be taken away from us in ways we cannot possibly comprehend. In one of Jesus’ parallel stories, he spoke of the man who got a single talent and went off and buried it. What we do in the midnight hours, time alone in prayer, and the direction of our hearts will greatly determine the success or failure of the family, church, and nation.
In the 2ndverse, the priests were told “lift up your hands to the sanctuary and bless the Lord”. But, how does one bless God? Is it about singing a Christian song, repeating fragmented scripture or, saying a simple prayer? In a stunning indictment against the nation Israel, the prophet Micah proposed the question:
“With what shall I come before the Lord [to honor Him]
And bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With yearling calves?
Will the Lord be delighted with thousands of rams,
Or with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I present my firstborn for my acts of rebellion,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
Except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion),
And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]? (Micah 6:7-9 amp)
As odd as it sounds, all of the aforementioned are great gestures but, when the heart is not in it, all of it becomes ritual rather than sacrifice. When the priest stood the midwatch, it wasn’t a time of relaxed control nor, was it just a time to look holy; it was a time of serious business because, the success or failure of the nation rested on these men. In the same way, parents today are a firewall between an ungodly world and the children they are sworn to protect. If the parent fails to stand the watch or does so like a hired hand would, the child could be lost to the ways of the Devil and the parent will be held accountable. I charge parents everywhere today to carefully consider the ones you are given charge of. Your job, parents, is an unthankful one and filled with many traps, hard aches, pains, and sorrows; yet, when you stand before God on your judgement day and asks, “what is your testimony”? You can proudly say, “I stood the midwatch, I lifted my family before you with holy hands and You did not fail me. To a dying world, I was a contrast.  I finished the race”! To you, will be the words “well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
Point 3 Allowing God’s Blessings (Psalm 134:3)
It is a common cliché among Christians to say “God bless you” when someone is leaving or has given us something of value. When you read this final verse of the series, I want you to consider that we can receive blessings or, we can push them away simply by our attitude coupled with behaviors. So, the question I want to propose to you as we reach the final step to the temple is, “May God bless you”? Consider, if you will, the case of the man whose hand was shriveled up (Mark 3:1-6). When Jesus said, “give me your hand”, the man could have refused the blessing by saying “no” and, in an unspoken way, said “I don’t want to be healed. Who in their right mind would refuse to be healed? The answer is, many including our self.
We tell God not only by our words but, by our actions “I prefer the painful lessons of life”. As parents, we want our kids to make it through life’s journey without falling into the pits of sin; some of the pits we have fallen in our self along the way. In the book of Isaiah chapter 28, God is speaking to the tribe of Ephraim, who was the 2ndson of Joseph, about a pending exile. The people of the time believed they were getting the meat of God’s word by preferring the hard line of the law over the life blood of the word. God’s response, and the part I want to hone in on, is “very well I will teach you by a more humiliating method so that you will fall under the pressure instead of being lifted up” (Isaiah 28:8-13 amp). This may sound cold-hearted but, I want to remind you that God is holy, and he is Just; he will not give blessings when we walk at cross purposes to his word. Just because we go to church, read God’s word, and participate in Facebook blogs, does not imply that “we are being blessed”. For this reason, Jesus during the teaching of the Beatitudes spoke of making things right with those we in contention with or have committed sin and need to make it right (verse). Jesus’ admonishment to Peter after having proclaimed the coming power of Peter’s ministry (verse) speaks to the concept that we can stop blessings just as assuredly as we can let them flow in our life and those around us.
The journey up the steps to the Temple, to me, is one of making decisions which path will I take; each step can take me closer or farther away from God’s throne room. How we order our life either opens the door for Jesus to fill our life or tells him “vacate it”. My prayer for you today and every day is that you will allow God’s blessings in your life to work in and through you. Remember, what Jesus did was just the tip of the iceberg of we are capable of doing with him in control of our life (John 14:12-14).  Thank you for walking with me.

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