There is a unique culture that exists at night, necessary work being done while the rest of the world sleeps. I’ve witnessed the hard working janitor, the aid emptying bedpans, the cook and the street sweeper. It’s largely the humble that populate the night ranks, those that clean from the day before or prepare for the day ahead; those that are not noticed unless the work goes undone. They slip back into the shadows to sleep as the light dawns for the rest of us. We inhabit two worlds, one largely serving the other.
I hadn’t really thought of it before, but after reading Psalm 134, it became obvious Jerusalem’s ancient Temple had a night shift. After evening services or sacrifices, the gates would be closed. There must have been some access remaining since we have anecdotal notes of activity at night, like Anna the Prophetess who was there day and night. Who were these ministers of the night?
The keepers of the temple were Levites, but at night would have worked unseen. The gate was closed, the world slept. They may have had to keep unfinished sacrifices burning, gathered together the tithes, cleaned after a day of bloody offerings, or kept watch from enemies. It is thankless work, done only in the presence of God.
David sings in his psalm about the night worker. Did David have some insomnia and run across these dedicated servants? What prompted this composition? God’s people doing His service, who praise God even after the crowds are gone. It makes me think also of those that move about us during the day, faithfully but silently completing their work. They receive no fanfare, no spotlight. David gave song to the unsung.
Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion, He who is the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 134
These servants praise God in the night, unnoticed except by One. Raise your hands and praise God.
Maybe you inhabit the day, but feel invisible nonetheless. It doesn’t matter if you are in the company of none or of many, praise the Lord. It doesn’t matter if you work humbly or are admired by thousands, there is only One in the audience that matters.
Lord, remind me that when I think I am unseen, You see everything. And you are my only true audience. And bless those who serve us through the night.