31 August 2020
I WILL EXTOL THE LORD AT ALL TIMES; HIS PRAISE WILL ALWAYS BE ON MY LIPS. MY SOUL WILL BOAST IN THE LORD; LET THE AFFLICTED HEAR AND REJOICE.
(Psalm 34: 1-2)
PSALM 132 – A SONG OF ASCENTS.
O LORD, REMEMBER DAVID AND ALL THE HARDSHIPS HE ENDURED. HE SWORE AN OATH TO THE LORD AND MADE A VOW TO THE MIGHTY ONE OF JACOB: “I WILL NOT ENTER MY HOUSE OR GO TO MY BED – I WILL ALLOW NO SLEEP TO MY EYES, NO SLUMBER TO MY EYELIDS, TILL I FIND A PLACE FOR THE LORD, A DWELLING FOR THE MIGHTY ONE OF JACOB.”… “LET US GO TO HIS DWELLING PLACE; LET US WORSHIP AT HIS FOOTSTOOL – ARISE, O LORD, AND COME TO YOUR RESTING PLACE, YOU AND THE ARK OF YOUR MIGHT. MAY YOUR PRIESTS BE CLOTHED WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS; MAY YOUR SAINTS SING FOR JOY.” FOR THE SAKE OF DAVID YOUR SERVANT, DO NOT REJECT YOUR ANOINTED ONE. THE LORD SWORE AN OATH TO DAVID, A SURE OATH THAT HE WILL NOR REVOKE: “ONE OF YOUR OWN DESCENDANTS I WILL PLACE ON YOUR THRONE … “HERE I WILL MAKE A HORN GROW FOR DAVID AND SET UPA LAMP FOR MY ANOINTED ONE. I WILL CLOTHE HIS ENEMIES WITH SHAME, BUT THE CROWN ON HIS HEAD SHALL BE RESPLENDENT.” (Psalm 132: 1-5, 7-11, 17-18)
All three of the psalms that end the group of psalms of ascents focus on Mount Zion or Jerusalem. The pilgrims have finally arrived, and now they focus on God’s promise in Psalm 132, the unity of God’s people in Psalm 133, and the beauty of God’s blessing in Psalm 134.
Psalm 132 is probably the most unusual of all Psalms of Ascents. It is much longer than the other psalms, and the subject matter is more historical. Much of it has to do with the history leading up to David and his throne. It was probably composed for the dedication of the Temple, and most likely composed by Solomon. The Psalm divides into three sections. The first section tells us about David’s promise to God, the second section, about God’s promise to David, and then the third section tells us about God’s promise to us. Let us MEDITATE this time, on these messages.
A– DAVID’S PROMISE TO GOD (verses 1-9)
-David’s hardships. (verse 1) The hardships here more likely refer to David TAKING the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and gathering all the materials for the Temple. The first attempt to bring the Ark to Jerusalem was a disaster. They put the Ark on a cart, and they were making their way to Jerusalem with singing and great celebration when Uzzah reached out and took hold of the Ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. No one was supposed to touch the Ark. This was an irreverent act, and God struck Uzzah down and he died there beside the Ark of God (2 Samuel 6: 6-7). It took three months before David was ready to try again. Once the Ark was safely in Jerusalem, David then spent years making plans and gathering materials for the Temple. It reminds me of all those years of struggle, building our church back in my previous parish in Romania, and that: -“God never promises a calm passage, but a safe landing,” – as somebody told me during a “bumpy flight” above the Himalayas. The Psalm begins by asking God to remember David and all the hardship he endured. The Bible tells us that God remembers all the trials and hardships we go through for Him: – God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped his people and continue to help them (Hebrews 6: 10). What a great God we have!
– David’s promise to find a dwelling place for the Lord (verses 2-5). God is called twice “the Mighty One of Jacob” in these verses. Like David, Jacob also made a vow to the Lord about making a house for God. It was just a pillar in the end, but it was a start, reflecting our eternal desire to be closer to God, our desire for God having a dwelling place with us. Here in Psalm 132, more than 900 years after Jacob, David follows up his promise to find a dwelling place for God.
– David’s fulfilment of his promise to God – the Temple (verses 6-9). The promise was fulfilled initially when David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and then more fully when Solomon brought the Ark into the newly completed and dedicated Temple. These verses describe the celebration of a promise fulfilled. The whole scene is a beautiful description of pure and joyful worship before the Lord. As the pilgrims journey to Jerusalem for worship at the feasts, they would remember how the Ark of God followed the same path so many years before them. Indeed, how much do we still respect the worship-places built by our ancestors long before us?
B – GOD’S PROMISE TO DAVID (verses 10-12)
– God’s promise of the Messiah. (verse 10). In the context of the whole Bible, the “Anointed One” is another word for the Messiah. This is a prayer not only not to reject the present king, but also to fulfil the promise of the coming Messiah. We are reminded here that we can approach God not on our own basis, but through Jesus Christ (Christ= Anointed One, in Greek), the Messiah, the Son of David.
– God’s promise to establish David’s throne (verses 11-12). – The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: when your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish His kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of His Kingdom for ever (2 Samuel 7: 11-13). This is the true fulfilment of God’s promise to David – Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God who will reign forever.
C– GOD’S PROMISE FOR US (verses 13-18)
– God’s promise to dwell with His people (verses 13-14). God dwelt with His people symbolically through the Ark of the Covenant, He dwelt among us physically through the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and He dwells within us spiritually today through the Holy Spirit. He will dwell with us ultimately in the NEW HEAVEN and the NEW EARTH, promised in the Book of Revelation.
– God’s promise to bless us with His salvation (verses 15-16). The New Testament tells us that these things are fulfilled for us through our salvation in Christ. …You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2: 9-10). We are the priests clothed in righteousness divine. We are the saints, God’s covenant people who ever sing for joy!
– God’s fulfilment of His promise to us – Christ’s reign in heaven (verses 17-18). Here is the climax of the whole Psalm. All these promises come together and are fulfilled in the reign of Christ and where we will dwell with Him forever, as it says in the Book of Revelation: – … Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21: 3b- 4).
Psalm 132 teaches us that God always keeps His promises. Through Jesus, the Messiah, God has come to dwell in, and with, His people forever. We have been made priests of our God – clothed in salvation, richly provided for, singing joyful songs of worship. How beautiful and how encouraging are these promises of our God! May we believe them thoroughly in these hard Pandemic times; may we meditate on them daily, and may we rejoice in them forever!
LET US PRAY FOR:
God’s blessing upon our Church-life in these hard times of the Global Pandemic, and for the re-opening of our church in the most safe and secure way. – God’s healing of those who suffer in any ways, both in our community and everywhere in the world. – The power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen FAITH, HOPE and LOVE in every heart and every place. – Our children at the start of a very unusual school year, and for the elderly, who struggle with life at home, in hospitals or in care-homes. – Families, with financial difficulties, unemployment, and relationship crises. – Scientists, who work to find an effective vaccine, doctors, and nurses, who tirelessly heal, help, and look after the needy. – Churches, ministers, and Kirk Sessions, to take the most appropriate decisions for the resumption of worship. – The help of God, to grant not just peace but reconciliation in our world, where chasms of fear, hatred, envy and injustice come between so many, for an end to all that divides and destroys, so that those previously estranged may come together, heart to heart, and bring an end to conflicts and sufferings. – The Love of God Almighty, to be with us and remain with us through Jesus Christ our Lord, in Whose Name let us offer our individual personal prayers to our Heavenly Father ……….. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN …
BE STILL, MY SOUL: The Lord is on thy side; bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; leave to thy God to order and provide; in every change He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake to guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake; all now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord, when disappointment, grief and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past, all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
… OUT OF HIS GLORIOUS RICHES MAY – GOD – STRENGTHEN YOU WITH POWER THROUGH HIS SPIRIT IN YOUR INNER BEING, SO THAT CHRIST MAY DWELL IN YOUR HEARTS THROUGH FAITH AND … BEING ROOTED AND ESTABLISHED IN LOVE, MAY HAVE POWER, … TO GRASP HOW WIDE AND LONG AND HIGH AND DEEP IS THE LOVE OF CHRIST, AND TO KNOW THIS LOVE THAT SURPASSES KNOWLEDGE – THAT YOU MAY BE FILLED TO THE MEASURE OF ALL THE FULLNESS OF GOD. NOW TO HIM WHO IS ABLE TO DO IMMEASURABLY MORE THAN ALL WE ASK OR IMAGINE, ACCORDING TO HIS POWER THAT IS AT WORK WITHIN US, TO HIM BE GLORY IN THE CHURCH AND IN CHRIST JESUS THROUGHOUT ALL GENERATIONS, FOR EVER AND EVER! AMEN.
(Ephesians 3: 16-21)