George Booker
Psalms Studies - Book 5

Psalm 132

1. The Book of the Ecclesia in Israel

This final cycle of the Songs of Zion (132-134) focuses attention upon God’s sanctuary, and upon the people who worship there (132:5,7-9,13-16; 133:2,3; all of 134). These people constitute a spiritual “holy place”, the “ecclesia” of God, the sanctuary where He dwells in spirit and truth.

Due to the general unrest and disruption of worship brought on Israel by the Assyrian, the faithful remnant of Hezekiah’s day must have thought with great regret upon the glories of prior years. In earlier days they had come from all corners of Israel, from the farms of Galilee, the valley of Jordan, and the hills of Judah, multitudes of pilgrims trekking to the great temple of Solomon — there to join their praise with the altar sacrifices and their prayers with the daily incense. Where were those crowds now? Scattered in the north countries, enslaved in Babylon, fled into Arabia, or crushed beneath the advance of heathen armies. Was true religion destined to vanish from the earth? Had God forgotten His covenant, and that special place, Zion, where He had promised to place His Name for ever?

Against such a background, Psalm 132 is a remembrance by Hezekiah of past glory, a lament for present distress, and a prophecy of future blessing — an exciting future when truth and righteousness would be renewed in Zion. But the glorious future was coming sooner than anyone, even the king, expected! Thousands of exiles in surrounding nations, freed from fear by the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem, and Jewish slaves, carried away by the Assyrians but now an official embarrassment to them, began to trickle back to the Land of Promise. And the trickle mounted to a flood, thousands upon thousands of fugitives — the ransomed of the Lord, returning to Israel with songs and the oil of everlasting joy on their heads (Isa. 35:10).

And now Hezekiah did more than pray; he acted! A great repatriation was begun in Judah; room was found for the returning tribes. The king realized the fervent desire of an earlier time — when he announced a great Passover in Jerusalem and sought to “bring home” the disaffected of the idolatrous Northern Kingdom (2 Chron. 30:1). Now what Hezekiah had been unable to accomplish, God did for him, and adversity was His instrument. Persecution drove God’s people to trust in Him as they never had before, and the result of the Lord’s chastening was union and peace in Zion (133:1-3), with a renewed and elevated temple worship (134:1-3).

2. Structure

1, 2.
“Lord, remember David”
David’s psalm: The ark in Zion
For David’s sake
Commentary on David’s psalm

The foregoing is capable of a good deal of expansion, and comparison:

The prayer

The answer
v. 2
David’s vow / God’s vow
v. 11a
vv. 3-5
God’s throne in Zion / David’s throne
v. 11b
vv. 6,7
The bringing of the ark to Zion
v. 13
v. 8
God’s resting place
v. 14
v. 9
God’s priests and saints
v. 16
v. 10
For David’s sake
v. 17

It should be noted, however, that vv. 12 and 15 have nothing to correspond to them in the first half of the psalm. But why?

3. David’s psalm

The Hebrew text has the prefix l’, exactly as in all the psalm headings — A Psalm of David. Thus, here the meaning is: ‘Lord, remember this psalm David wrote long ago (i.e., vv. 3-9).’ Compare, in general, Psalms 15, 24, 30, 68, and 87. The end of v. 2 should have “saying” supplied, as in many other places (Psa. 2:6; 9:12; 22:7; 30:8; 39:3; 41:5; 52:6; 109:5,6; 116:4; etc.).

Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions. There are two Hebrew words which are almost identical: “affliction” and “meekness”. Here the LXX reads the second of these, which is much more appropriate. (On this detail see also H.A. Whittaker, Israel in the Wilderness, pp. 106,108.)
How he sware unto the Lord. This is certainly implied in 2 Sam. 7:2. But is it mentioned specifically anywhere in the history?

And vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob. A highly appropriate quotation from Gen. 49:24, where stone refers to the great rock (sela) upon which the altar of burnt offering was built, on the threshing floor of Araunah.
The mighty God of Jacob sustains the RV reading of Psa. 24:6 as an ellipsis for “the God of Jacob”.
Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. This is surely to be read as the hyperbole of enthusiasm. How could he rest, how could he comfortably close his eyes in sleep, knowing that the ark of God dwelt in a tent? Would that all God’s servants suffered from insomnia for such noble reasons! David, whose humility was so manifest in the preceding psalm, was sincerely and passionately distressed at the astounding contradiction — he dwelt in a luxurious house of cedar, but God in a curtained tent (2 Sam. 7:2). Such a sentiment is found on the lips of Haggai also:

“Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore... consider your ways” (1:4,5).
Place is the Hebrew maqom, a word which commonly means a holy place, an altar, or a sanctuary (Gen. 22:3,4,9,14; 28:11-19; Deut. 12:11-21; Psa. 24:3; 26:8; Isa. 60:13; 66:1).
Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood. The ark of God was the center of David’s hopes. Even as a young boy, growing up in Bethlehem-Ephratah (Gen. 35:19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11; Mic. 5:2), he had heard of it at Shiloh (1 Sam. 1:3). He had earnestly followed its fortunes, emblematic of the fortunes of Israel during the turbulent days of his youth, when the priesthood of Shiloh had been rejected (Psa. 78:60,61), and the ark carried into captivity by the Philistines (1 Sam. 4:17). During this period it “wandered in the wilderness”, successively to Ashdod, Gath, Ekron, then to Bethshemesh, and coming at last to Kirjath-jearim, the “city of the woods”, where it abode twenty years (1 Sam. 7:1,2).

Ephratah was Bethlehem, David’s home, probably named originally after Caleb’s wife (1 Chron. 2:19,50,51; 4:4).

The fields of the wood. Kirjath-jearim (1 Sam. 6:21) means “the walled place in the forest”. From there the ark was moved only a short distance to Gibeah, “the hill” (1 Sam. 7:1), to the house of Abinadab; and from there (2 Sam. 6:1,10) to the house of Obed-edom; and three months later to Zion (6:2). The beginning of David’s enthusiasm, planted and nurtured by Samuel, to find a worthy resting-place for the Ark, doubtless dates back to his first anointing, in 1 Sam. 16.

We found it suggests that, after the death of Samuel, Saul allowed the Tabernacle to remain in obscurity and neglect. Now in David’s reign, it had to be sought out and found. The versions use the same word as in Luke 2:16 — the shepherds finding the baby Jesus (cp. v. 7 here).
We will go into his tabernacles. This is an intensive plural, meaning ‘His holy or special tabernacle’. This verse expresses the resolution to bring the ark to Zion.

We will worship at his footstool. “Footstool” is parallel to “ark” in v. 8 (cp. Psa. 99:5; Lam. 2:1; 1 Chron. 28:2; Isa. 60:13; 66:1)
Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength. These words are the ancient battle-cry of Israel, uttered by Moses in the wilderness:

“And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel” (Num. 10:35,36).

Here was the beginning, the wilderness of Sinai, whence God set forth, His people in His train, to seek a dwelling place. Psalm 68 commemorates the final step, save one, when king David accompanied the same ark to Zion (2 Sam. 6), singing these words: “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered” (v. 1).

The final step in this allegorical pilgrimage was the erection of God’s temple by his son Solomon, who at its dedication echoed what were by then familiar words:

“Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness. O Lord God, turn not away the face of thine anointed: remember the mercies of David thy servant” (2 Chron. 6:41,42).

3. A psalm of Hezekiah

In the early verses Hezekiah remembers the vows of his ancestor David, to find a habitation for the Ark of God. He remembers also the divine covenant with David, for the establishment of his house upon his throne (vv. 11,12). And finally he listens to the word of God, reaffirming His promises of old, verifying His vow to rest in Zion, to dwell there, to plant there the branch of David, and from that place to bless His people (vv. 13-18).

For thy servant David’s sake turn not away the face of thine anointed. Here is a prayer for all time, expressing the aspirations of all of God’s elect. It was a prayer which appealed to Hezekiah the Lord’s anointed, especially in the last part. “For David’s sake” God had before spared the kings of Judah and the nation itself (1 Kings 11:12,13; 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19,24-26), and Hezekiah was firmly convinced he would do it again. His prayer, like all prayer should be, was founded upon a knowledge of God’s past actions; what he asked for was in conformity therewith, and consequently far more likely to receive a favorable answer.
This plea, “For David’s sake”, gives rise to a recounting of the great Davidic promise, which was Hezekiah’s hope also: The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it... [add ‘saying’]... Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore. Relevant passages here are 2 Sam. 7:8-17 and 1 Chron. 17:7-17 — the two parallel accounts of the Messianic promise to David. In 1 Kings 8:25 and 2 Chron. 6:16 are the words of Solomon, reciting this same promise and making the initial application to himself. But the “if” is an ever-present reminder of the conditional nature of this promise (see Psalms Studies, Psa. 72, Par. 3).

That God hath sworn with an oath by Himself, because He could swear by no greater, is the sure hope of Hezekiah, and indeed of all the faithful (Psa. 89:3,4,35,36; 110:4; Heb. 6:17,18). But this promise to David had a special meaning to his heir, who at the time of his fatal illness had no seed (2 Kings 20:18; Isa. 39:7). How Hezekiah would cling to these words: “If thy children (Hezekiah himself!) will keep my covenant... their children (Hezekiah’s own son!) shall also sit upon thy throne... ”
Here are six allusions to the Sanctuary: the shewbread (v. 15), the priests (v. 16), the choir (v. 16), the horn of the altar (v. 17), the lampstand (v. 17), and the high-priestly crown (v. 18).
I will abundantly bless her provision. A reference to Hezekiah’s “great store” (2 Chron. 31:10), by which the embattled city was sustained during the Assyrian siege (cp. Isa. 33:16,20).

I will satisfy her poor with bread. Hezekiah’s jubilee? Isa. 37:30,31.
I will also clothe her priests with salvation, while God’s enemies are clothed with shame (v. 18; Isa. 37:36,37)!

Her saints shall shout aloud for joy, as in 1 Chron. 16:7-43. And so also according to Hezekiah: Isa. 38:20.
There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed. The horn is a symbol of strength (Psa. 18:2; 75:4,5,10; 89:17,24; 92:10; 112:9), and the strength of a man is revealed in his children (Gen. 49:3; Judg. 8:21). These were two promises which looked as though they would come to nought in Hezekiah’s time; but that good man’s faith saved the situation.

4. Messiah

These passages cannot be read without the realization, in profound thanksgiving, that the greatest and last and most extraordinary fulfillment of these words is to be found in Jesus the Messiah. The angel’s words to Mary (Luke 1:32,33) became the oft-repeated theme of the apostles (Acts 2:30,31; 13:32-37) and one of the soundest bases of the kingdom hopes of all subsequent believers:

“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

This application to Christ’s kingdom (as Son of David) is demanded by v. 12 (for evermore); v. 14 (my rest for ever); and v. 18 (his crown means a priestly crown — s.w. Exod. 28:36; therefore he will be a king-priest, a Melchizedek king!).

The meekness of Christ’s self-dedication to his Father’s redeeming purpose. This section ends with Arise, the word for resurrection (s.w. Mark 5:41), and a new priesthood.
I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids. As the God of Jacob neither slumbers nor sleeps (121:4), so also His Son (in Gethsemane) did not sleep until the redeeming work was done.
Habitation is really “tabernacles”. Is this an intensive plural (see Acts 7:46, which quotes vv. 2,5 here), or does it anticipate John 14:2?
Thy priests... thy saints. The saints are to be kings and priests also — Rev. 5:10; cp. Rev. 19:8.
The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David. God’s oath! Yet he did turn from it in the time of Zedekiah and thereafter. But note the if in v. 12. So there is no essential disharmony. Even regarding the most extreme case (Jer. 33:21), it has still remained true that there has always been, for the past 1,900 years, an heir to both kingly and priestly office... in heaven!

Of the fruit of thy body. The Hebrew is “belly” (as AV mg.), or more precisely “womb” (s.w. 2 Sam. 7:12). In all other places, the standard promise is “out of thy loins” — emphasizing the male element in procreation. But here, although spoken to a man, the emphasis is upon the female — hence the Virgin Birth! The Messiah was not only to be Son of David, but especially he was to be, in the most literal sense, the Son of God (see references, Psalms Studies, Psa. 22, Par. 5). This phrase is quoted by Elizabeth to Mary in Luke 1:42:

“Blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”
Thy children and their children are Christ’s converts and their converts in turn, who will also be kings and priests for evermore.
For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation (Psa. 78:67,68)... (insert ‘saying’): This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. In these verses the promise to David and God’s choice of Zion, the city of David, are closely associated, as they are elsewhere in the Bible. Jesus called Jerusalem, or Zion, the city of the great king (Matt. 5:35), meaning David. The choice of Zion (Psa. 48:1,2; 68:16) — above all other possible sites for God’s glory to dwell (cp. v. 6 here) — is not solely an Old Testament doctrine: we are on firm ground in our belief that God will yet choose Jerusalem/Zion again, and manifest that choice for all the world to see. Zion will yet become the scene of the most glorious events (Heb. 12:22; Rev. 14:1-3).
I will satisfy her poor with bread. The Breaking of Bread in the age to come: Luke 22:16,18.
Her saints shall shout aloud for joy. The song of the redeemed (Rev. 19).
There will I make the horn of David to bud. The RSV has “a horn to sprout (tzemach) for David”, calling attention to the great “Branch” prophecies (Jer. 23:5,6; Zech. 3:8; 6:12), which are applied to Christ (Luke 1:69).

I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed. The lamp, or candle, tells of dignity, joy, and prosperity (Psa. 18:28; 2 Sam. 21:17). It further represents the continuation of the Davidic dynasty, as in 1 Kings 15:4:

“Nevertheless [i.e., despite the sins of Abijam] for David’s sake did the Lord his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem” (cp. 2 Chron. 21:7; Isa. 62:1).

In Jesus the line of David will never be extinguished. He is the “Light of the World”, not just of Israel (John 8:12). One day he will become, with his saints, the candle which is like a city set upon a hill (the holy hill of Zion), which cannot be hid by any bushel, but gives light and joy to all the world (Matt. 5:14-16): His enemies will I clothe with shame; but upon himself shall his crown flourish (or ‘shed its luster’) (v. 18).
Next Next Next