STANDING ON HOLY GROUND –
Upon concluding the collection for the Song of Ascents, the compilers envisioned pilgrims finally reaching the Holy City where they were about to enjoy celebrating the feasts; also, the Levite choir that sang these songs in sequence on each of the fifteen steps leading up to the inner court of the Temple, had reached the final step. Now it was time to bless the LORD in adoration; to throw off their weariness and any downheartedness they brought with them; and with all their strength and soul lift up the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in praise and worship.
“Listen everyone; give the LORD Eternal all the praise and honor due to Him; all of you ministers who serve in the house of the LORD Eternal; raise your hands toward the Holy of Holies and begin praising the LORD Eternal! May the LORD Eternal, creator of heaven and earth, rain down His blessing on you from His throne on high!” Psalm 134:1-3
Reflection: While visiting a small town in north Thailand, near the border with Burma, to conduct a ministers meeting and Bible Study, I had to travel on a hot, crowded bus for hours over bumpy roads. After finally arriving we checked into a less than five star hotel for the night. The next day we met in a small tabernacle built out of bamboo poles and a tin roof. As we worshipped, there was one brother who seemed to be especially happy to be there; his face was lit up with a smile as he raised his hands to worship the Lord with all his heart and soul. Between one of the services the overseer brought the man to meet me, and he seemed overjoyed and gave the tradition oriental bow, and then hug me with great enthusiasm. The overseer told me that the man had traveled all the way from Burma to be there; but it was how he traveled that melted my heart and filled my eyes with tears of respect and admiration. He left his home in central Burma on a train, and traveled as far as it would go toward our location where the services were being held. Then he caught a bus and rode as far as his money would take him. After that he hitchhiked; then got a ride on a moped; then on a bicycle; and finally walked several miles to the border. I quickly asked the Lord to forgive me for feeling sorry for myself because of the long bus ride and the less than luxury hotel accommodations. The psalmist no doubt knew what it took to take the long arduous journey to Jerusalem for the feasts, and shows unquestionable reverence, respect, wonder, and outright awe for the House of God and all it represented. He knew that words alone did not suffice in expressing true veneration for the God above all gods. How much more meaningful does praise become when done in true reverence for our Lord and Savior. How much more sincerity and humility are added to prayer when done with an open heart to the One who loves us so much. How much more do acts of dedication and submission to God’s will take on meaning when done while fulfilling His will not ours. How much more does it intensify our words of thanks and confessions of love for the Mighty Redeemer when done with a willingness to surrender ourselves to Him. But none of this means anything unless we mean everything we sing and say to Him, rather than merely following the rhythm of the music or repeating words we don’t really mean. Let us imagine what would be going through the heart and mind of a pilgrim standing in the Temple, looking at the most sacred spot on earth to every Jewish believer. Given the words and music of the song by Geron Davis, we might begin singing along with the pilgrims – as did a Jewish girl named Barbra Streisand: “We are standing on holy ground and I know there are angels all around, let us praise Jesus now, we are standing in His presence on holy ground.” So let the psalmist’s words and the lyrics of Geron’s song cause us all to take these to heart and cherish them as we approach our Heavenly Father on His throne of room of grace and mercy.