Night Watch

It’s hard to say what exactly went on in Solomon’s temple because what was prescribed was not always carried out. One of the reasons Israel went into exile was they were not observing certain portions of the law. Temple activities were intended to be continuous, with some things happening on a 24/7 basis. The priests who were responsible for maintaining these activities worked in shifts, rotating in and out over a period of time. Some of them worked through the night during what were called watches. “During Old Testament times the ‘night’ was divided into three watches: from sunset to 10 P.M., from 10 P.M. to 2 A.M., and from 2 A.M. to sunrise” (3915).

I think the hardest part of becoming a mom is attending to the needs of a newborn baby around the clock. Although we are used to sleeping at night, newborns have no awareness of time and do not differentiate between night and day. Their patterns are based on activity in the womb and must be adapted to sleeping only at night.

The Levites that served in the temple had to adapt their behavior to God’s patterns and ways of doing things. It says in Psalm 134:1, “Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD.” The word translated stand, amad basically means “to stand upright,” but “cultically (with reference to formal worship activities) this verb is used of approaching the altar to make a sacrifice. It describes the last stage of this approaching, ‘to stand finally and officially’ before the altar (before God; cf Deut 4:11). Such standing is not just standing still doing nothing but includes all that one does in ministering before God (Num 16:9)” (5975).

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