Theme: A Trivial Age
In this week’s lessons, we learn about the importance of worship, and the responsibility of pastors to lead us in it.
Scripture: Psalm 134:1-3
We begin by asking, Who are the servants who minister by night in God’s temple? The answer is the priests or Levites, not the people in general. Is this strange? Not if we reflect on the position of this psalm in the collection. We should understand that those who have made their way to Jerusalem to worship have completed their devotions and are now returning home. They will not be able to worship in the temple again until their next journey. But as they leave the city, they are encouraged to know that the priests will be remaining behind to represent them and they will be worshiping God there continually. 
The duty of the Levites is explained in 1 Chronicles 9:26-33; 23:28-32; 25:1, 6 (see also Deut. 10:8). The Levites were in charge of the temple worship, and it is specifically said that they were responsible for the work “day and night” (1 Chron. 9:33). 
There are scores of scholarly theories about what might be reflected here: a single priest calling to the other priests to praise God, one half of the priestly choir calling to the other half, the people calling to the Levites and the Levites blessing the people. But this is all conjecture. The only thing that makes sense in the context of the Songs of Ascents is the joy the departing people would have in knowing that the worship they had shared in during their pilgrim days in Jerusalem would be carried on by the Levites in their absence. It would be carried on continually.
And so it is! So it has been, and so it will continue to be! For God has always had and will always continue to have his worshipers. There have been sad periods in the history of the church when worshipers have been few and true worship has almost been eclipsed. But true worship has never been blotted out entirely. Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote, “When night settles down on a church the Lord has his watchers and holy ones still guarding his truth, and these must not be discouraged, but must bless the Lord even when the darkest hours draw on.”1
Even when they were placed in a dungeon, bleeding from their beatings, Paul and Silas sang praise to God at night (Acts 16:25). It was while they were singing that the foundations of the prison were shaken and the prison doors flew open. It was so during the Dark Ages when the monks worshiped God in their cloisters. It is the same in our time. 
But although God always has those who know him and bless his name in wise and thankful worship, there are times like ours when this is scarce. John H. Armstrong is editor of a journal called Reformation and Revival. The 1993 winter issue of that journal was devoted to worship, and in it Armstrong called much of what passes for the worship of God today McWorship, meaning that worship has been made common, cheap or trivial. What is the problem? Why is so little of the worship that characterized past great ages of the church seen among us? I think there are several reasons. 
1. Ours is a trivial age, and the church has been deeply affected by this pervasive triviality. Ours is not an age for great thoughts or even great actions. It is a technological age, and the ultimate objective of our popular technological culture is entertainment. 
In recent years I have been holding seminars in various parts of the country on developing a Christian mind, and I have written a book on the subject, based on Romans 12:1, 2, called Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age.2 I argue that the chief cause of today’s mindlessness is television, which is not a teaching or informing medium as most people suppose, but rather a means of entertainment. Because it is so pervasive—the average American household has the television on more than seven hours a day—it is programming us to think that the chief end of man is to be amused. How can people whose minds are filled with the brainless babble of the evening sitcoms have anything but trivial thoughts when they come to God’s house on Sunday morning, if, in fact, they have thoughts of God at all? How can they appreciate his holiness if their heads are full of the moral muck of the talk shows? 
1Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 2b, Psalms 120-150 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1968), p. 177. 
2James Montgomery Boice, Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1993). 
Study Questions:

What is the Levites’ function? Why does knowing that the Levites carry on worship bring joy to the pilgrims after their departure? 
What do you learn from the example of Paul and Silas in prison?
How does the triviality of our age affect worship? 

Application: Evaluate how television and other forms of technology have affected your thinking and that of your family.

Study Questions
Tagged under
More Resources from James Montgomery Boice

Subscribe to the Think & Act Biblically Devotional

Alliance of Confessional Evangelicals

About the Alliance

The Alliance is a coalition of believers who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the Reformed faith and proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today’s Church.

Canadian Donors

Canadian Committee of The Bible Study Hour
PO Box 24087, RPO Josephine
North Bay, ON, P1B 0C7