Psalm 132 A song of ascents. (1) LORD, remember David and all his self-denial. (2) He swore an oath to the LORD, he made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob: (3) "I will not enter my house or go to my bed, (4) I will allow no sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, (5) till I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob." (6) We heard it in Ephrathah, we came upon it in the fields of Jaar: (7) "Let us go to his dwelling place, let us worship at his footstool, saying, (8) 'Arise, LORD, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. (9) May your priests be clothed with your righteousness; may your faithful people sing for joy.'" (10) For the sake of your servant David, do not reject your anointed one. (11) The LORD swore an oath to David, a sure oath he will not revoke: "One of your own descendants I will place on your throne. (12) If your sons keep my covenant and the statutes I teach them, then their sons will sit on your throne for ever and ever." (13) For the LORD has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling, saying, (14) "This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it. (15) I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor I will satisfy with food. (16) I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her faithful people will ever sing for joy. (17) "Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one. (18) I will clothe his enemies with shame, but his head will be adorned with a radiant crown." NIV
Psalm 132 is the thirteenth of fifteen psalms referred to as Song of Ascents, Song of Degrees, Song of Steps, Pilgrim Songs, or Gradual Psalms. Traditionally, these were sung as Jewish pilgrims made their way toward Jerusalem to worship at the temple as required by God in the Old Testament:
Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the LORD empty-handed. Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you. Deuteronomy 16:16-17 NIV
Jewish pilgrims would travel from their homes to worship, sacrifice, and honor God with gifts three times a year for these feasts. And, as they came up to the city or as they climbed the hill and then the steps up to the temple, they sang these songs. I would like to hear that. I wish I had an aptitude to memorize scripture so that I could sing as I walked. And what a beautiful scene it would be. Voices raised together in song, worshipping God as they travelled through the city. Wow.
And this psalm in particular is a stark reminder that long ago God claimed Zion as His home. God claimed it. Then David began the battle to make it home for the Israelite people. And history proves that the enemy is still trying to keep God out of His home on Zion. Even today.
Today, Temple Mount- the hill in the Old City of Jerusalem where David’s tabernacle and Solomon’s temple used to sit- is the home of an Islamic Mosque called the Dome of the Rock.
Despite the conflicts in modern Jerusalem, the fighting between cultures and peoples who claim these sites as their holy spaces, Temple Mount is still a place of pilgrimage today. Muslim pilgrims, Jewish pilgrims, and Christian pilgrims flock to the site, and the Jewish state attempts to keep it a safe place for all.
Psalm 132 is titled, The LORD Has Chosen Zion (ESV); The Eternal Dwelling of God in Zion (NKJV); Prayer for the LORD’s Blessing upon the Sanctuary (NASB); and In Praise of the Temple (ICB); among others.
LORD, remember David and all that he suffered. He made a solemn promise to the LORD. He vowed to the Mighty One of Israel, "I will not go home; I will not let myself rest. I will not let my eyes sleep nor close my eyelids in slumber until I find a place to build a house for the LORD, a sanctuary for the Mighty One of Israel." Psalm 132:1-5 NLT
As the Jewish pilgrims climbed the hill for their festivals, this song reminded them of at least two things. One- that Zion is the Lord’s home. And two- that Jerusalem, the place they go to worship, was hard won.
The people sing, “remember David.” “Remember your love for David.” “Remember his battle for Jerusalem.” Maybe the people are saying “don’t forget us!” “Don’t forget your promises to David!”
David fought for the site because God told him to, and David was Israel’s beloved king. He fought long and hard to make this a place of worship.
But why do some verses in the Old Testament say things like, “remember me, God”? Or “remember David”?
As if God forgets?
God doesn’t forget. He doesn’t forget you or me. He hasn’t forgotten David. And He certainly will never forget His promises.
Maybe, in asking God to remember, the people of Israel doing the remembering. They remember God’s promises and faithfulness. They dwell upon His character.
God doesn’t need to remember. We do.
We heard that the Ark was in Ephrathah; then we found it in the distant countryside of Jaar. Let us go to the sanctuary of the LORD; let us worship at the footstool of his throne. Arise, O LORD, and enter your resting place, along with the Ark, the symbol of your power. May your priests be clothed in godliness; may your loyal servants sing for joy. Psalm 132:6-9 NLT
As recorded in 2 Samuel 5, David conquered Jerusalem not long after being crowned king. As he made his home there, his life was dedicated to defending the Israelite people and to building a house for the Lord to dwell in and for His people to worship Him at.
And traditionally, the place the Israelites could “meet” God- prior to the church or the temple- was the temporary, movable tent called the Tabernacle. There were many things the people carried around with them for this travelling place of worship, but the most important piece was the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark is gone now, but it’s believed to have held the Ten Commandments, a jar of manna, and Aaron’s staff.
I will meet with you there and talk to you from above the atonement cover between the gold cherubim that hover over the Ark of the Covenant. From there I will give you my commands for the people of Israel. Exodus 25:22 NIV
The pure gold cover, called the Mercy Seat, had two gold cherubim with wings spread, facing each other. The place in the center was where the Spirit of God would hover.
Therefore, it was of the utmost importance to David that the Ark be found and brought “home.” During the time of Saul, the Ark was lost or forgotten. So, David went looking for it.
David conferred with each of his officers, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. He then said to the whole assembly of Israel, "If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the LORD our God, let us send word far and wide to the rest of our people throughout the territories of Israel, and also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their towns and pasturelands, to come and join us. Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of it during the reign of Saul." The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people. 1 Chronicles 13:1-4 NIV
The people needed a place to worship. David needed a place to worship. They were finally settled in the Holy city of Jerusalem and yet not all was complete.
David instituted a search for the ark. It had to be hunted for high and low; and at last at Kirjathjearin, the forest city, he came upon it. How often do souls find Christ and his salvation in out of the way places! What matters where we meet with him so long as we do behold him, and final life in him? Eureka which is embedded in our text- “we found it.”Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
And as the pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem sing this song, they remember the Ark and King David, but more importantly, they remember God and His faithfulness.
For Your servant David's sake, do not turn away the face of Your Anointed. Psalm 132:10 NKJV
David and all of his sons who became king after him were God’s anointed kings, at least the ones that kept their eyes on the Lord. And this verse is asking that God be with them all. But the psalmist is also asking that God remember His promise of the coming Messiah.
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." Psalm 132:11-12 ESV
And here is a reminder of God’s promise to David, that his family line would lead Israel forever. What God meant was in the sense of earthly kings and actual sons and grandsons of David, until Jesus Christ was born in David’s line. And Jesus is the Messiah and the One who will sit on the throne over all the earth forever.
But I love how God says, “I shall teach them.” God doesn’t expect perfection. He expects us to walk in His Word, then He will guide us and lead us in the way He wants us to go. “If your descendants obey the terms of my covenant and the laws that I teach them, then your royal line will continue forever and ever.” NLT
When David took the throne and built his home in Jerusalem, God spoke to him through the prophet Nathan.
But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever." Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation. 2 Samuel 7:15-17 NIV
Jesus sprang from the race of David, as the evangelists are careful to record; he was “of the house and lineage of David”: at this day He is the King of the Jews, and the Lord has also given him the heathen for his inheritance. He must reign, and of His kingdom there shall be no end. God Himself has set Him on the throne, and no rebellion of men or devils can shake His dominion.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
Yes- I, GOD, chose Zion, the place I wanted for my shrine; this will always be my home; this is what I want, and I'm here for good. I'll shower blessings on the pilgrims who come here and give supper to those who arrive hungry; I'll dress my priests in salvation clothes; the holy people will sing their hearts out! Oh, I'll make the place radiant for David! I'll fill it with light for my anointed! I'll dress his enemies in dirty rags, but I'll make his crown sparkle with splendor." Psalm 132:13-18 MSG
What a beautiful site it would’ve been to see pilgrims approaching Jerusalem while singing this song. As they sing, they are reminded that Zion is God’s dwelling. God has always desired Zion for His home. This is where the Ark and the Tabernacle no longer moved from place to place, this is where Solomon built his magnificent temple for the Lord, and this is where Jesus will reign on earth someday.
Maybe someday we will all raise our voices again together. We will sing this song as we walk toward Zion where we will worship Jesus as King over all the earth forever and ever.
Won’t that be amazing?
Father in heaven, thank you for this psalm and for your word which is a constant source of strength for your children. Thank you for the peace and joy that we get from meeting you and learning from you within your word. Thank you for Zion and for your promises. We trust you, and we know that all you say will come true. We love you. We believe you. We worship you today. Amen.