If you have your Bibles, I'd invite you to turn with me to Psalm 132 as we continue our way not only through the fifth book of the Psalms but through the songs of ascent. This psalm recalls several themes together in one compass. First of all, it recalls David's desire to build a temple for the Lord and that takes you back to 2 Samuel 7. You remember in 2 Samuel 7, David expresses to Nathan the prophet, his friend and the faithful prophet of God in Israel, a desire on his part to build a temple for the Lord. And that desire is expressed in the first five verses of this psalm. And it's expressed in the nature of David making an oath to the Lord, a public declaration of his desire and intention to build a house, a temple, for the Lord. So be on the lookout for that as we read through the psalm.
Then, a second thing that is behind this psalm is David's bringing of the ark to Jerusalem. Remember, the ark was built in the wilderness and for all the years that Israel wandered and for all the years that the ark had been housed in various places in Israel until there was a king and until David was enthroned, it had never been in the capital, Jerusalem. And David again, in 2 Samuel, brings the ark to Jerusalem and it's a very, very significant thing in the history of Israel so that you have the location of the throne of Israel, the throne of the king of Israel in the same place where the ark of the covenant which represented, you remember, the footstool of God on earth, so it represents the place where, God as it were, rests His feet sitting on His throne in heaven. And to have those two things together brought about something that Moses had talked about all the way back in Deuteronomy. It was David who brought that ark from Kiriath-Jearim up to Jerusalem. After all those years of wandering, finally the ark was brought to Jerusalem. And you see that in verses 6 to 8.
Then, also behind this passage tonight, is the enthronement of the Davidic king. When you look at verses 9 and 10, they sound like a chorus or an echo of the king who is being enthroned or anointed, maybe, at his own accession ceremony. The Queen is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee this year. Not many monarchs of Britain get a Diamond Jubilee and she's doing that this year and there are all sorts of ceremonies. And some of you were around when she was made the monarch of Britain and can remember the celebrations that went on surrounding that event. Well it may be that what's going on here is these events – David's desire to build the temple; David's bringing the ark up to Jerusalem — are being recounted in the context of the enthronement of the new king in David's line. You almost hear him speaking in verse 10, don't you? “For the sake of your servant David, do not turn away the face of your anointed one.” It's almost like the new king is saying, “Please hear my prayers. You know, I'm the new anointed king and for the sake of David, for the promises that You've made to him, especially about his descendents sitting on this throne, don't turn away from me.” And so there's another thing going on here; there's the enthronement ceremony.
Then in verses 11 to 12 we're taken back again to 2 Samuel 7, because you remember in 2 Samuel 7 after David says to the Lord, “I want to build You a house,” what does the Lord say back to David? David says, “Lord, I want to build You a house.” And the Lord says, “David, you’re not going to build Me a house; I'm going to build you a house.” And in verses 11 and 12 here we see the Lord respond to David's oath with an oath of His own. “No, David, you’re not going to build Me a house; I'm going to build you a house.”
And then finally in verses 13 to 18 we have a statement of the Lord's choice of His people and His promises to David. So we have a remembrance of David's desire to build the temple, we have a remembrance of David bringing the ark up to Jerusalem, we have an enthronement ceremony, and we have, in all of these, a recall, a remembrance of the events of 2 Samuel 7, all wrapped up in a psalm. And remember one more thing we've got going on here. This is being sung by whom? By pilgrims on their way up to Jerusalem for one of the great feasts. So all of those wrapped up together in one psalm. So let's look to the Lord in prayer before we read and hear His Word.
Heavenly Father, this is Your Word and it is rich beyond complete comprehension. We boggle at the facets of the diamonds that You have honed in the Scriptures and there are so many angels and there are so many connections and there are so many aspects of the truth that we can hardly do it justice. Were we to spend all night, we could not exhaust the riches of this, Your Word, but You have a Word for us in here. You have things You want us to learn. You are not such an artisan that You leave us befuddled at the profundity at the ark that You paint, the story that You tell. You are so clear that You intend for us to understand things and to believe things and to respond to them in faith. So help us as we study Your Word tonight, as we remember history from Your Scriptures that we have perhaps read and studied ourselves many times over the years. Bring all of these things to our remembrance so that we might be enriched in the faithful hearing of Your Word and bless Your Word to our spiritual nourishment. In Jesus' name, amen.
This is God's Word. Hear it in Psalm 132:
“A SONG OF ASCENTS.
Remember, O LORD, in David's favor, all the hardships he endured, how he swore to the LORD and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, ‘I will not enter my house or get into 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.’
Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah; we found it in the fields of Jaar. ‘Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!’
Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy. For the sake of your servant David, do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: ‘One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne. If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne.’
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 provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread. Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy. There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed. His enemies I will clothe with shame, but on him his crown will shine.’”
Amen, and thus ends this reading of God's holy, inspired, and inerrant Word. May He write its eternal truth upon all our hearts.
You can imagine the pilgrims singing this on the way up to the heights of Jerusalem. The festival is coming and their hearts are lifted as they remember the great themes from the history of Israel's redemption that are recounted in this psalm, Psalm 132. First they recall how devoted David was to the worship of the Lord and they sing about David's oath. It's recorded for you there in verses 1 to 5. Remember, in David's favor, all the hardships he endured. David was anointed by Samuel as a young man. It was a long time before he ever became king. He lived as a refugee; he was hunted down by the king of his own people. His name was slandered. He almost gave up hope that he would ever be king be but the Lord brought it about. And in 2 Samuel you remember those wonderful words — David realized that the Lord had made him king over all Israel. David was very conscious that it wasn't his own strategy, it wasn't his own military might; it wasn't his capacity at making alliances, it wasn't the brilliance of the generals that works for him. It was the Lord who has made him king over Israel. And this psalm recounts the twists and the turns and the hardships that he endured on the way.
DAVID’S DESIRE TO BUILD A TEMPLE FOR THE LORD
But especially in verses 2 to 4 it speaks of David's desire to build a temple for the Lord. And you remember how that goes in 2 Samuel 7. David announces to Nathan a desire to build a temple for the Lord and there's a play-on words. The Hebrew word for “house” can mean a palace or a house in which a king lived, it can mean a temple as in a house in which the presence of God is symbolically there, or it can mean a dynasty, as in a house of a line of kings. And so David says to Nathan, “I want to build a house for the Lord,” meaning, “I want to build a temple for the Lord.” And what sparked this in David is the recognition that he is dwelling now in a fine palace made of expensive wood and he looks out and he notices that the ark of God that he has brought up from Kiriath-Jearim is still in the tabernacle. Now the tabernacle was a very expensive, ornate structure, but in the end it was a big tent. It was less than half the size of this room. It would have fit on this side of the sanctuary. Very expensive, very ornate, lots of gold, lots of very expensive tapestry, but in the end it was a tent. And David said, “It's just not right for me to be in a palace and the ark of God, which is the symbol of His throne, His rule over His people and His presence with His people, is in a tent. That's just not right!”
And so he said to Nathan, “I live in a house,” that is, a palace of cedar, “but the Lord dwells in a tent. I want to build a house,” that is, a temple, “for the Lord.” And the Lord sends a message back to David through Nathan and He says, “No, you will not build Me a house,” that is, a temple, “but I will build you a house,” that is, a dynasty. And that's recounted for us in the first section, this oath of David to the Lord, this desire on his part to build a temple for the Lord. Now when Solomon finally builds the temple and recounts his father's desire to build the temple, he tells us in the dedicatory prayer that he prayed at the temple ceremony that God was pleased with the desire of his father, David, God's servant David, to build the temple; it was just God's purpose for Solomon to do it. And that's recounted here. David had a desire for the Lord to be exalted and he expressed that desire in wanting to build a temple for Him.
DAVID’S DESIRE TO EXALT THE LORD
Secondly, and you see this in verses 6 through 8, David's desire to exalt the Lord is expressed in his bringing the ark up to Jerusalem. And there are two interesting place names that are mentioned — Ephrathah, and you remember that from the passage in Micah which speaks of Bethlehem which was in Ephrathah; and the fields of Jaar, Kiriath-Jearim. Those are areas that reflect the home turf of David. That's where David was from. And so the words are meant, when it says, “We have heard of it in Ephrathah” — what? “We found it in the fields of Jaar” — what? The ark of the covenant, that's what they've heard of; that's where it was.
And then the language, “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool” is to remind us that David brought it up to Jerusalem from there. So the point again is that it was David who got it from Kiriath-Jearim, from his home turf, up to Jerusalem in the first place. It's celebrating David's desire that the Lord would be exalted by the ark of the covenant being brought into the capital of His people, into Jerusalem. And so the language in verse 8, “Arise, O LORD, and go to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your might!” So the psalm begins as the pilgrims march their way to Jerusalem remembering how David wanted to build a temple and remembering how David brought the ark into Jerusalem.
DAVID’S SUCCESSOR DESIRE FOR PURE WORSHIP OF THE LORD
And then in verses 9 and 10, it's as if the new king who is being anointed in this enthronement ceremony, says these words, “Let your priests be clothed with righteousness and let your saints shout for joy. For the sake of your servant David, do not turn away the face of your anointed one.” This is David's son and successor praying for pure worship to be established and for God's promises to be fulfilled towards him. We know that part of this psalm was used in Solomon's enthronement ceremony and so these words may go all the way back to Solomon because part of this psalm is quoted in that enthronement ceremony.
And so this is a prayer for the purity of worship of the people of God. Isn't it interesting that the king himself is interested in the purity of the worship of the people of God? “Let your priests be clothed with righteousness and let your saints shout for joy.” This is not lackadaisical worship. The saints are not simply ritually arrayed in beautiful, refined garments; they are clothed in righteousness. And the saints are not just humdrum going through the motions; they are shouting for joy. And you almost hear just a little echo of David going before the ark shouting and dancing as it is brought up to Jerusalem in that language, don't you? But it's a picture of the people of God totally focused on worshiping God and worshiping Him consistently inside and out. There's righteousness in this worship; there's joy in this worship.
And then the king prays that God's promises in 2 Samuel 7 will be fulfilled towards him. And the king now, having said these words, is answered with the very words of God. Look at verse 11. “The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: ‘One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne. If your son keeps my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne.’” Here is a repetition of the oath that the Lord gave to David in 2 Samuel 7. And so in the very context of the enthronement of the king, he's reminded of God's special promise to David. You remember Saul, the first king of Israel, wanted his son, Jonathan, to become the king. And you remember what God said to Saul? “No, Jonathan will not be king. Another will be king.” And so it was no small thing for God to say to David, ‘Your son will sit on this throne, but not only your son, but your son's son and his son and his son and his son, forever. Your descendents will sit on the throne in Jerusalem.’”
Now interestingly, David's line reigned in Jerusalem for four hundred years. From just shy of 1000 BC down to the late 500's or we would say the early 500's BC. So for four hundred years the line of David reigned in Jerusalem. As far as I know, it is the longest, single reign of one house of any monarchy in the history of the world. And this passage, in the context of the enthronement ceremony, is recalling that promise of God to David.
THE LORD’S PROMISES TO ZION
And then finally, if you look at verses 13 to o18, the Lord goes on to recount His promises 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 provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread. Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy.” This is an articulation of the Lord's choice of Zion and His blessing on Zion.
And then he goes on in verses 17 and 18. “There I will make a horn to sprout for David.” And a horn, in the Old Testament, a horn symbolized power. You know they looked at horns on animals and the larger, the more impressive those horns were, not only did it have a certain physical majesty out it for an animal to have a massive horn, but it was obviously a defensive and even an offensive weapon for that animal. And so as a picture, the exalting of the horn of David is talking about exalting his power and his majesty. It's interesting, I was looking this up in a dictionary of Biblical imagery and the article next to the article on horns in the Old Testament was an article on war horses. And it was interesting that Assyrian war horses had ornate, fabricated horns put on them in the various kinds of harnessing that was created for them to make them look impressive. “You know horses don't have horns, well let's give them some and make them look impressive!” And that was the idea. “They’re going to be war horses? They’ll look more impressive, they’ll look more powerful if we have horns on them!” And so horns were given to these Assyrian war horses. Well that's the picture of a horn here. “The Lord will make a horn to sprout for David.” He’ll exalt him; He’ll give him power. “I have prepared a lamp for my anointed,” and again there's influence and clarity from that lamp. “His enemies I will clothe with shame, but on him his crown will shine.” And so the horn and the lamp and the crown are all pictures of promises that God has given to David and to his descendents who are king, of exalting their rule in the land.
A glorious picture here — the pilgrims are on their way to Jerusalem, they’re thinking of David wanting to build the temple, they’re thinking of David wanting to bring the ark of the covenant into the temple, and they’re thinking of how, in the enthronement ceremony, all of those promises of God to David and to Israel are rehearsed, but here's the twist. This psalm is found in the fifth book of the Psalter, which probably means that even though it's language goes all the way back to the time of Solomon, it was put into the Psalter in this fifth book after there was no longer a Davidic king on the throne, and long before Jesus came. So all of this language about David's descendents being on the throne forever was being sung by pilgrims who did not have a Davidic king. They were having to walk by faith and not by sight because it looked like the promises of God had failed.
Now if you just enter into this for just a second. The two great theological crises of the late days of Israel are the exile out of the land — listen to the language here. “The Lord has chosen Zion and desired it for His dwelling place. This is My resting place forever. Here will I dwell.” And suddenly the children of Israel are taken into exile. And what do they ask? “Have the promises of God failed?” And the other great crisis is this: God has promised that David will never lack a man on the throne of Israel and for four hundred years that was true, and then one day there is no longer a Davidic king on the throne. And the people of God ask the question, “Lord, what's going on? You promised that David would always have a king and there is not a king in David's line on the throne. In fact, we're being ruled by foreign princes.” And this psalm is being sung in that time and it's being put into the Psalter in that time.
In other words, this psalmist and the people of God who are singing it, are having to sing it in faith. And you may be exactly there tonight. You know the rich promises that God has made in His Word to you and you know the desires of your heart that you've lifted up to Him in prayer, and you do not see it. You don't see the promises fulfilled. You don't see your prayers answered. You don't see your desires realized. What do you have to do? You have to walk by faith. Can you imagine what an enormous expression of faith it would have been for hundreds of years for the children of Israel to sing this song while most of their people were in exile and there was no king of David on the throne?
So my friends, when Luke is recounting the birth of John the Baptist in the New Testament, he quotes this psalm and he says that the coming of the Messiah into this world, the sending of Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God's own Son, is the fulfillment of God exalting the horn of David, so that all of that waiting and all of that wondering about whether God's promises were going to come true, whether the desires of His people were going to be fulfilled, whether their hopes and dreams were ever going to be realized, was brought to pass in the coming of Jesus Christ into this world. Consistently, the New Testament sees Jesus and His people, the Church, as the answer to those two great Old Testament theological crises. Where is David? David has a greater Son and Lord named Jesus, the New Testament answers. What about the exile? God is going to bring the nations of the world to Zion, not so that Zion, this physical patch on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean will be the place where He reigns forever, but so that the whole world will be the inheritance of His people and the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea and men and women and boys and girls from every tribe and tongue and people and nation will be the people of the Lord and a people who are not a people will be called the people of the Lord. And this is the way the New Testament answers that question about the exile. And this song, sung in faith by Jewish pilgrims on their way up to festival, points forward to a fulfillment that can only be in Jesus Christ. But it reminds us as well that as we walk in this world as pilgrims, so often not seeing the prayers of our hearts answered in the way that we long for them to be answered, in the way that we don't often see certain hopes and dreams realized, we too can sing this song in faith and have a sure and certain hope that God will not disappoint us in the way that He answers our prayers and in the way that He fulfills His promises and blessings to His people.
Our heavenly Father, we thank You that You give us psalms to sing in sunshine and in shadow and we thank You that once again You've given us a psalm that's filled with so many beautiful recollections of Your dealings with Your people in history but it's also a psalm that requires Your people to sing it when they could not see any possible way in which its promises could be fulfilled, at least humanly. And so often we are in precisely that situation. We’re in circumstances and conditions in our lives where we cannot see the hopes and dreams and desires, the good and godly hopes and dreams and desires of our hearts being realized, and that we too might walk by faith when we cannot walk by sight. Grant that we too might sing with faith this song even when we are not presently experiencing the fullness of these promises. Grant that we would sing it in hope and in expectation and in confidence as we sing it in faith. And get glory by the very fact that Your people have to walk by faith. And that means that they have to walk after Your Word and not their own sight, not their own wisdom, not their own understanding. Grant that we would be able to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our understandings and believe that You will make our paths straight. We ask this in Jesus' name, amen.
Would you stand for the Lord's blessing?
Peace be to the brethren and love with faith from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ until the daybreak and the shadows flee away. Amen.