A Song of Ascents.
1 Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
Would You Pray With Us Today?
2 Lift up your hands to the holy place
and bless the Lord!
3 May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who made heaven and earth!
Watch and Pray
This psalm is the last of the Songs of Ascent. While the first of these psalms expressed a feeling of being far from God and longing for him, this last psalm speaks of the blessing and protection that comes from Zion. The disciples’ growth began with repentance, but ended with praise.
Three times a year the Israelites gathered in Jerusalem from all parts of the earth. They prayed to and worshiped God, made pilgrimage, and offered sacrifices to the Lord inside his house. But eventually, everyone had to leave. They could not remain forever in Jerusalem. When the feast was over, they all returned to their homes.
Their dispersion, as God’s people returned to “Meshech” and Kedar,” was of course very sad. Although the assembly was joyful, the departure was hopeless. In this moment, God said: “Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord!” (v. 1) The Israelites descending the mountain experienced greater peace and restfulness in their hearts when they thought of being in God’s house. In the house of the Lord, the lights did not go out, and praise did not cease. At every hour, people watched and prayed.
The value of a night watchman is not measured by the number of things he accomplishes. While others sleep, the night watchman remains awake. Game of Thrones was a popular American drama, featuring an armed group known as the Night’s Watch. When he joined the Night’s Watch, each man makes this vow:
“Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.”
Failure of the Watchmen
When the world is in chaos, villains become judges. When night is dark, thieves emerge, thieves even more powerful than daylight pickpockets who steal where their viciousness can be recognized. Because of the blurred vision of the dark, people are easily deceived. These nighttime thieves do not steal cell phones and wallets; they rob railways and airports, making sure to take every bit of money out of people’s possessions. Thieves who rob cultural property are even more damaging. These thieves calls black, white, saying that what stinks is actually fragrant. For thieves such as these, plagiarism or theft of intellectual property is no big deal.
In this dangerous world, we are in desperate need of a group to serve as night watchmen. Although some have proposed the state should take on the role of night watchman, I do not feel comfortable with the state in this role. Too often, trusting the government leads to sudden loss of possessions or even life.
In society, all peoples and governments have failed in the role of night watchmen. Even in Game of Thrones, the Night’s Watch failed: although they swore not to marry, they visited prostitutes; although they could not wear a crown, they were involved in the fights of the crown. Even the righteous commander of the group turns out to have been allied with one who sacrificed his children to demons.
In the Bible, God ordained that a group of priests were to remain alert and pray for his people. These priests, also, failed in their mission. When Jesus came, he did not find alert and prayerful priests, but merchants trading in the temple. The priests did not do justice, love kindness, and walk with God. Instead, they were wicked servants who killed their own God. Because Israel often fell into sin, turning away from and rebelling against God, the Lord raised up many prophets. These prophets saw the wickedness among the Israelites and warned them so they might turn from their sins and save themselves from death.
Christ’s Watch for His Church
The church today is the Night’s Watch of this generation, for her head is Christ. Only if Christ keeps watch for the church will the church be able to keep watch for this generation, lest it drift further and further away from God. No matter how corrupt this generation is, the prayers of the church are a clarion call through the night sky of this dark generation.
Today’s church pastors are commanded by God to preach good news to all sinners. They are to warn the people of the danger of sin and the penalty of disobedience to God, so the people will turn from their evil deeds and return to God. This mission is the same as the that of the prophets of old, and these preachers are God’s modern-day Night’s Watch. These watchmen must have a faithful heart, and blow their horns in warning, even though they know the sword will surely come. Regardless of the crowd’s attitude, watchmen must not bow to the will of the masses and watch them continue in sin without warning them.
May God give the pastors, elders, and preachers of this generation a heart to watch for the church. May he raise up a group of watchmen who are willing to watch for his flock. May his faithful servants say before him: “Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.” Amen!
Guan Lufei is a pseudonym for an intern evangelist for a church in southwest China.