Psalm 132 – Remembering the Promise to David and Beyond
This psalm is another in the series of fifteen titled A Song of Ascents. It has no author associated with it in the title. Some believe David was the author, and some believe it was written after the exile. James Montgomery Boice made the case for Solomon as the author: “Since verses 8-10 are quoted in 2 Chronicles 6:41-42 as part of Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple, the psalm probably dates from Solomon’s reign even though the title does not identify it as Solomon’s psalm.”
The coming of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem is referred to in verses 6-9 of this psalm. Psalm 24 and Psalm 68 also refer to this event, which is described more fully in 1 Chronicles 15-16.
Psalm 132 is allued to twice in the New Testament: Stephen alludes to Psalm 132:5 in Acts 7:46, and Peter alludes to Psalm 132:11 in Acts 2:30.
A. A heart for the house of the LORD.
1. (1-5) David’s heart for the house of God.
LORD, remember David
And all his afflictions;
How he swore to the LORD,
And vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob:
“Surely I will not go into the chamber of my house,
Or go up to the comfort of my bed;
I will not give sleep to my eyes
Or slumber to my eyelids,
Until I find a place for the LORD,
A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
a. LORD, remember David and all his afflictions: The singer began by remembering David, the great king of Israel – and all the afflictions he endured.
i. Apart from the Messiah (who is given the title Son of David), David the son of Jesse is acknowledged as Israel’s greatest king. Yet he had to endure a remarkable number of afflictions. All the following were true of David:
· He was despised and criticized by his family.
· He was placed in many life-and-death struggles.
· He was accused of treason and treachery.
· He was attacked by the connected, powerful, and ruthless.
· He lived many years as a fugitive, a wanted man.
· He had family, home, friends, and career taken from him.
· He experienced a significant season of backsliding.
· He accepted as the king only reluctantly.
· He faced many enemies in battle through many wars.
· He openly criticized and despised by his wife.
· He suffered because of his own sin and scandal.
· He endured great conflict and problems among his own children.
· He suffered a coup staged by his son, followed by a civil war.
· He was openly despised and criticized by some of his subjects.
ii. The psalmist asked God to look upon and remember both David himself and all his afflictions. He prayed, “Lord, consider the man and consider his troubles. Let none of them be forgotten or wasted.”
iii. The afflictions of David always suggest the afflictions of his Greater Son: “That God would ‘remember’ the far greater ‘afflictions’ sustained for our sake by the Messiah in the days of his humiliation, when through much tribulation, he accomplished our redemption, and entered into his glory, is the petition preferred, in these words, by us Christians.” (Horne)
iv. The individual Christian can take comfort that God does remember all the afflictions endured unto His glory. “Thus God still bends over the scenes of the life-work of His children. The chapel where a McCheyne pleaded with his congregation; the South Sea Island, where a Williams poured out his blood; the dark forests in which a Brainerd wrestled for his Indians; the great Continent, where a Moffat, a Livingstone, a Hannington wrought, prayed, and suffered. He remembers David and all his afflictions.” (Meyer)
b. How he swore to the LORD: The poet asked Yahweh to remember a specific oath David made unto Him. The oath itself is not recorded in 2 Samuel 7, but the heart behind it was recorded there.
i. “Wearied with a stormy life, he might well have left it to others to care for the work…. He will put his own comfort second, God’s service first.” (Maclaren)
c. Until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob: David was absolutely dedicated to building God a temple, a dwelling place. David’s dedication to this was so complete that he vowed to refuse himself many comforts of life until the job was finished.
i. After David built himself a fine palace, he felt guilty that a mere tent represented God’s dwelling place. David asked Nathan the prophet for permission to build the temple, and Nathan orginally said yes. Soon afterward, God told Nathan that David was not to build Him a temple, but his son would (2 Samuel 7).
ii. David did not build that place for the LORD, but he did find it. “We find by 1 Chronicles 16:43, that he did not bless, and consequently did not inhabit his own house, until he had brought the ark to Zion, where the temple was afterwards erected.” (Horne)
iii. God excused David from his obligation to build a temple. Yet God was so pleased with David’s heart that He promised to build David a house, a lasting dynasty over Israel (2 Samuel 7).
iv. “And we find that he would have acted in all things according to his oath and vow, had God permitted him. But even after the Lord told him that Solomon, not he, should build the house he still continued to show his good will by collecting treasure and materials for the building, all the rest of his life.” (Clarke)
v. David’s passion speaks to us in at least two ways:
· We should have a passionate drive to enjoy God’s presence in our own lives, that our hearts would truly be His home.
· We should have a passionate drive for the blessing and benefit of the house of God, the community of His people.
vi. “I wish that this same zeal would take firm hold of all Christians. How many there are who dwell in their ceiled houses while the house of God lies waste! They can provide abundantly for themselves; but for God’s cause, for God’s gospel, for a place wherein the poor may meet for the preaching of the Word, they do not seem to care.” (Spurgeon)
vii. The Mighty One of Jacob: “The designation ‘Mighty One of Jacob’ derives from Genesis 49:24 and signifies the marvelous manner in which the Lord had protected, guided, and blessed Jacob. The epithet connotes the great strength of the Lord as the Divine Warrior.” (VanGemeren)
2. (6-9) Our heart for the house of God.
Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
We found it in the fields of the woods.
Let us go into His tabernacle;
Let us worship at His footstool.
Arise, O LORD, to Your resting place,
You and the ark of Your strength.
Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness,
And let Your saints shout for joy.
a. Behold, we heard of it: Most all commentators understand ithere to mean the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle associated with it. This would be the remembrance of the season before David brought the ark (and, presumably the tabernacle) into Jerusalem. The ark was lost, and under David’s direction it was found.
i. “The location of the ark seems to have been forgotten during the reign of Saul when it was at Keriath-jearim (1 Chronicles 13:3), and it was only found there later (in David’s day) after a time of serious searching.” (Boice)
b. Let us go into His tabernacle: As one of the Songs of Ascents, this song was sung by pilgrim travelers going to the temple in Jerusalem, mainly at feast times. They remembered and understood David’s great heart for God’s house and used it to inspire them as they said, “Let us go into His tabernacle; let us worship at His footstool.”
c. Arise, O LORD, to Your resting place: The pilgrims on their journey remembered the words of Moses in the wilderness, who called out when the ark traveled, Rise up, O LORD! Let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You (Numbers 10:35).
i. Though the ark of God’s strength had found its resting place, this was still an appropriate saying for a pilgrim people.
d. Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness: When they sang of the goodness and glory of God’s temple, they also remembered the position of His priests. It was fitting for them to be known for righteousness in life, and this would make God’s saints shout for joy.
i. “The pure vestments of the priests were symbols of stainless character, befitting the ministers of a holy God. The psalmist prays that the symbol may truly represent the inner reality.” (Maclaren)
ii. When God’s servants are not clothed with righteousness, it can cause God’s people to lose some of their joy. “[There is] no surer sign of God’s gracious presence with a people, than a powerful ministry, clothed with inward purity and holiness, represented by the holy garments.” (Trapp)
B. The promise of God’s blessing.
1. (10) A prayer for blessing on the Messiah.
For Your servant David’s sake,
Do not turn away the face of Your Anointed.
a. For Your servant David’s sake: God promised that He would not forsake the sons of David (2 Samuel 7:14-16). When the psalmist prayed this, he prayed for the fulfillment of a promise God had already made.
i. “For his sake all those who are anointed in him are accepted. God blessed Solomon and succeeding kings, for David’s sake; and he will bless us for Jesus’ sake.” (Spurgeon)
b. Do not turn away the face of Your Anointed: The singer asked that the favor of God would never be taken from His Anointed. There is a sense in which every king of David’s line was God’s anointed, but this looks to the ultimate Anointed one – the Messiah Himself, Jesus Christ. This is ultimately a prayer for blessing on God’s Messiah, the Anointed Son of David.
i. “The prayer upholds David by the special designations ‘your servant’ (ebed; cf. 27:9) and ‘your anointed one’ (masiah; cf. 2:2; 84:9; 89:20). These designations apply to David and to all his descendants who were anointed as kings over Israel or Judah.” (VanGemeren)
2. (11-12) God’s promise to David.
The LORD has sworn in truth to David;
He will not turn from it:
“I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body.
If your sons will keep My covenant
And My testimony which I shall teach them,
Their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore.”
a. The LORD has sworn in truth to David: Earlier (verse 2) the singer remembered how David made a solemn oath to God. In return, God made a solemn oath to David, as recorded in 2 Samuel 7:5-16. God would never turn from such an oath.
i. There was definitely a connection between the two oaths. “Jehovah’s promise to establish a dynasty in Zion was made to the man who undertook to provide a Tabernacle for God in the midst of the City.” (Morgan)
ii. “Though the narrative in Samuel pertaining to the promises to David (2 Sam 7:12-16) makes no mention of an oath, here it is a poetic expression for the certainty of God’s promise to David (cf. 89:3,35).” (VanGemeren)
b. I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body: The psalmist remembered the promises God made to David in 2 Samuel 7:12-16. These were the promises God confirmed with an oath.
i. Forevermore: “This was conditional with respect to the posterity of David. They have been driven from the throne, because they did not keep the Lord’s covenant, but the true David is on the throne.” (Clarke)
3. (13-15) God’s promise to Zion.
For the LORD has chosen Zion;
He has desired it for His dwelling place:
“This is My resting place forever;
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless her provision;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
a. For the LORD has chosen Zion: The connection is made between the choice of David and his descendants and God’s choice of Jerusalem (Zion) as His sacred dwelling place, the place He desired.
i. The Bible is based on historical facts – real people, real events, and real places. God could have chosen any place on earth to be the stage on which His drama of redemption was displayed, and He deliberately chose Zion. His dwelling is in no way restricted to Jerusalem and the land of Israel, but it is significant that this was the place He desired.
ii. The LORD has chosen Zion: “The human response was all too often cynical, treating God’s choice as something to be exploited: a shelter against his judgment (Jer. 7, especially verses 8-15) or an asset to be commercialized (Matt. 21:12f.).” (Kidner)
b. This is My resting place forever: Once the ark of the covenant came into Jerusalem, there was to be no more traveling for the tabernacle. The tabernacle, the temple, the altar, and the ark would never rest in another place than Jerusalem.
i. “This is the joy of our souls, for surely we shall rest in God, and certainly our desire is to dwell in him. This also is the end of our fears for the church of God; for if the Lord dwell in her, she shall not be moved; if the Lord desire her, the devil cannot destroy her.” (Spurgeon)
ii. There is a sense in which this section of the psalm takes the previous requests and answers them beyond all expectation. “The people had asked God to come to his resting place as the ark was brought to Jerusalem; God says that he will sit enthroned there ‘for ever and ever.’ They asked righteousness for the priests; God promises to clothe the priests with salvation, which is a greater concept. The people asked that the saints might sing for joy; God promises that they will sing for joy forever.” (Boice)
iii. “The Divine promises teach the great truth that God over-answers our desires, and puts to shame the poverty of our petitions by the wealth of His gifts. He is ‘able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.’” (Maclaren)
c. I will abundantly bless her provision: God promised to have a special material blessing on Jerusalem and Israel, especially as part of the blessings for obedience connected to the Mosaic Covenant (Deuteronomy 7:13; 28:8-12).
i. “I will plentifully provide for Jerusalem, and all that live in her or resort to her for worship; nor shall they seek my face in vain.” (Poole)
ii. I will satisfy her poor with bread: “Dainties I will not promise them; a sufficiency, but not a superfluity; poor they may be, but not destitute.” (Trapp)
ii. Bishop George Horne, writing in the 1700s, had an interesting observation on this promise: “What a dreadful reverse of all this do we behold in the present state of the once glorious, but now desolated, Jerusalem!”
4. (16-18) God’s promise to His servants.
I will also clothe her priests with salvation,
And her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
There I will make the horn of David grow;
I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame,
But upon Himself His crown shall flourish.”
a. I will also clothe her priests with salvation: Earlier in verse 9 the singer prayed that the priests would be clothed with righteousness. Now he declared a promise from God that He would also clothe the priests with salvation.
i. When those who serve as God’s representatives are clothed with salvation, the people of God shall shout aloud for joy.
b. There I will make the horn of David grow; I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed: Jerusalem would be the place where the strength promised to David and his descendants would grow. God prepared a light (a lamp) for His Messiah, the ultimate Anointed One.
i. “The three terms, horn, lamp and crown, scarcely need comment, with their evident implications of strength, clarity and royal dignity. But note that the word used for crown (the same as for the high priest’s mitre) draws attention to the fact that it symbolized the king’s hallowing. Not power alone, but holiness is this king’s – our King’s – glory.” (Kidner)
ii. The horn of David grow: “…a metaphor taken from those goodly creatures, as stags, and such like; whose chiefest beauty and strength consisteth in their horns, especially when they bud and branch abroad.” (Playfere, cited in Spurgeon)
iii. “A lamp; a successor or succession to continue for ever in his family, as this phrase is expounded, 1 Kings 11:36, 15:4; and particularly one eminent and glorious light, to wit, the Messias, who shall come out of his loins, and revive and vastly enlarge his kingdom.” (Poole)
iv. “That this verse doth mystically refer to Christ, the Jews confess…. So saith Rabbi Saadiah, ‘The lamp is the king, which illuminates the nations:’ and Kimchi, ‘The horn of David, is the Messias.’” (Horne)
c. His enemies I will clothe with shame: Any and all who oppose God’s Messiah will end in shame, but the Anointed One’s crown shall flourish. His reign will prosper and last forever.
i. “Their shame they will be unable to hide, it shall cover them: God will array them in it for ever, and it shall be their convict dress to all eternity.” (Spurgeon)
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org