King David served God with passion. He badly wanted to build a place for worshipping God that would honor his Lord appropriately. David did not get to see his dream come to fruition. Nathan the prophet conveyed to him a message from God that the Lord had not asked for such an edifice, and that David’s hands were too covered with blood to build it. David’s son would build the temple, but David spared no expense to make sure that all the materials were obtained, the plans made, and the roles for temple servants arranged. Psalm 132, sung by worshippers preparing to worship at or traveling to the temple, is a prayer that calls on God to remember David’s fervent desire to build a dwelling place for the Lord. The psalm calls on God to honor his promises to David and to bless those who serve or worship in that place:
“Remember, O LORD, in David’s favor, 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 t he Mighty One of Jacob’” (Psalm 132:1-5).
The news resounded throughout the land, and so they, the worshippers and singers, went to worship the Lord in Jerusalem, saying, “Let us go to his dwelling place let us worship at his footstool.” The passages that describe the dedication of the temple make it clear that God is not confined to it. His name dwells there. He shows his glory there. Specifically, his presence is associated with the ark of the covenant, above which he dwells. Verses 8-10 are almost identical to the last verses of 2 Chronicles 6. They seem to describe what was sung as the Levites took ark of the covenant into the temple at its dedication:
“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” (Psalm 132:8-10).
A prayer for the entry of God’s presence into the house of worship segues into a petition on behalf of his priests and his holy ones or saints. The worshippers pray for the priests, those serving in the temple. This part of the psalm gets more involved for Christians. In 1 Peter 2:9, the apostle informs Christians, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” As Christians read, pray, or sing this psalm today, the words become a request that God will clothe us with righteousness, and let us shout for joy as his people. Psalm 132 reminds also that God had promised that David’s lineage will reign forever. The New Testament picks up this promise by linking it to a descendant of David, Jesus, who also in a spiritual sense is a king like David. Psalm 132 ends with a response from the Lord that affirms that the prayer of the worshippers has been heard. God will grant their (and our) request:
“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. Here priests I will clothe with salvation, and here saints will shout for joy. There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed” (Psalm 132:14-17).
God has prepared for his anointed (Christ means “anointed”). He clothes his priests (Christians) with salvation and his saints shout for joy.. Psalm 132 reminds the worshipper of God’s presence and care. Its words affirm that God keeps his promises. They celebrate salvation and joy. The psalm, however, begins with a prayer that God will remember David’s hardships. We may pray, too, that he will acknowledge our own work and sacrifice on his behalf. Nehemiah also asked the Lord to remember what he had done for God’s people Israel (Nehemiah 5:19). Psalm 132 anticipates the victory of God’s anointed, his Christ, his Messiah. When we read this psalm, we remember that being a priest or servant for God requires living up to high standards of righteousness and holiness.
- Bible Quotations are from the English Standard Version
O Lord, remember our service on your behalf and the sacrifices we have made. Remember losses we have suffered and pain we have incurred. Remind us that you have healed our hurts and have commissioned us to be your priests and holy ones. Increase our joy as we meditate on our forgiveness and the reality of our salvation. Suffering and temptation distract us. They sadden us and we forget your love; we begin to doubt. We pray that we will shout for joy when we remember what you have done for us. Thank you for Jesus, your Messiah, descendant of David, but even more your Son. In his name we pray, amen.