Today for our “Sunday worship preparation” devotionals we return to our series on the book of Psalms. Specifically, we are treating the ‘songs of degree” (or ascent) at present, ready to examine the thirteenth one, Psalm 132. For a brief reminder and review of the nature of these psalms, go back to our last post, on Psalm 131.
For now, let’s move on to Psalm 132, where we find this Word of God in Christ:
Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions:
2 How he sware unto the Lord, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob;
3 Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed;
4 I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids,
5 Until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.
6Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.
7 We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool.
8 Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.
9 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.
10 For thy servant David’s sake turn not away the face of thine anointed.
11 The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.
12 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.
13 For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.
14 This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
17 There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed.
18 His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.
It is immediately evident that this is a significant psalm for the church in both the OT and the NT. This prayer (that is its form, even a prayer of lament) centers on the covenant God made with David – the “sure mercies of David” (cf. Is.55:3 and Acts 13:34) and the promised Son of David in the covenant, our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Lu.1:32; Acts 2:30).
Here the psalmist (who probably was not David, as the heading to my Bible states) beseeches God to remember David and to fulfill His covenant promises to him, especially as regards that Messianic Son and as regards God’s dwelling in Zion as His abiding resting place. In fact, the second part of the psalm is nothing else but a repetition of the Lord’s promises to David concerning his covenant Son and concerning dwelling in Zion. This, in effect, is the psalmists petition and appeal: “Lord of the covenant, fulfill Thy word to king David, because this is what Thou hast said! Bring the promised Son, dwell in Zion, and bless her richly! Do not forget Thy word or this covenant, and do not forsake Thy servant!”
And we should, then, clearly understand that all of Israel’s salvation and life was wrapped up in these two matters of the covenant – the coming of the Son of David and the Lord’s making of the church His dwellingplace. Take those away and Israel (the church) is nothing. If these two covenant promises are left unfulfilled, Israel is not saved and the church is an empty shell. And then, there also is no worship, as you can see from the rest of the psalm (vss.7-9). It is that simple and that serious. The psalmist understood this, and this is why he prays so fervently. Do we understand this too? And do we pray equally fervently?
It would be easy for us to say, “But the psalmist’s concerns in Psalm 132 have been answered. The Lord did keep His word to David. He did fulfill His covenant promises to His anointed. Christ Jesus, the Son of David, has come. He perfectly kept God’s covenant and testimony (v.12) on behalf of the elect He came to save. As their sinless Priest-King, he made the perfect sacrifice for their sins. God has come and made Zion His dwellingplace. Through the risen Christ and His poured-out Spirit, God rests now in His church. And He is blessing her constantly – satisfying her poor and clothing her priests (vss.15-16). This is why we as the church gather in His presence each week and worship at the feet of our covenant God. This is why we saints shout for joy! Yes, God has accomplished His covenant promises in Christ! It’s all done!”
But while this is true, it is not the complete picture. For reality is that God is not done with His covenant promises in Christ, and we as His NT church have not yet received the fullness of salvation in the Son of David. If we can imagine it, there are even bigger and better things yet to come! We still await the manifestation of the heavenly kingdom of our Lord in the new creation and the perfect life of the covenant with God in glory. God is bringing David’s Son from heaven once more and when He does, His tabernacle will be completed and His resting place fully achieved.
And we who still experience the burden of sin and the sufferings of this present life, also in our worship, (as the psalmist did in his age – cf. v.1 again – “all his afflictions”), but who have the Lord’s sure promises to David and David’s Son ringing in our ears and stirring up our hearts, – we pray earnestly, “Arise, O LORD, into thy rest! Bring Jesus once more and accomplish the perfect rest of the new heavens and earth! Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly and fully realize the tabernacle of God!”
Because now our worship is so imperfect – on account of our sin and weakness, and on account of the fact that we are still in this old world of sin and shame. But we desire the perfect day of worship when God and we are at perfect covenant rest. Do you see now why this psalm-prayer must be and is ours? Then, as long as we wait for our Savior to come, let’s pray it and sing it!
If you wish to meditate on this psalm through the music of the Psalter, I encourage you to make use of this versification, Ps.#368. The lyrics are posted here; the music you may find at the link provided.
1. Arise, O Lord, our God, arise
And enter now into Thy rest;
O let this house be Thy abode,
Forever with Thy presence blest.
2. Thy gracious covenant, Lord, fulfill,
Turn not away from us Thy face;
Establish Thou Messiah’s throne
And let Him reign within this place.
3. Thy Zion Thou hast chosen, Lord,
And Thou hast said, I love her well,
This is my constant resting place,
And here will I delight to dwell.
4. I will abundantly provide
For Zion’s good, the Lord hath said;
I will supply her daily need
And satisfy her poor with bread.
5. Salvation shall adorn her priests,
Her saints shall shout with joy divine,
Messiah’s power shall be revealed,
His glory in His Church shall shine.