Psalm 132:6
See, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Lo, we heard.—This verse has been pronounced inexplicable, and yet the general intention is clear. The vow in which David declared his purpose has just been quoted, and that which is now said to have been heard and found can hardly be anything else than this purpose. In fact, the feminine suffix to the verbs points directly back to the word rendered afflictions in Psalm 132:1, which is really a feminine form. This being settled, we need not go from the plain direction of such places as Genesis 35:19; Genesis 48:7; Ruth 4:11; Micah 5:2, which pronounce the identity of Ephratah with Bethlehem, to seek any other locality which might possibly be so called. David’s purpose would naturally be connected—especially after a long lapse of time—with the birthplace of his family. But though taking this poetical licence, the psalm keeps sufficiently close to history as to recognise in the discovery of the Ark at Kirjath-jearim an important, nay, a decisive step in the project of building the Temple. Though his purpose may not have been even dimly defined to David when he moved the Ark, history justly sees in that momentous change the initial step in the grander undertaking. That the fields of the wood” (Heb., sedey-yā‘ar) is one designation of Kirjath-jearim (city of Yaarim, which went by so many names: Jeremiah 26:20; Ezra 2:25; Joshua 15:10-11) there can be little doubt. We must not, of course, think here of David’s contemporaries, but of those of the psalmist, who poetically are represented as taking important part in the early plans for building the Temple—just as we might say, speaking of our old cathedrals, “we built fine churches in those days.” The poet makes them say, identifying themselves with the people of those distant times, while naturally the historical correctness suffers, “We heard his project at Bethlehem; we found out its meaning (saw it take shape) at Kirjath-jearim.” For mātsâ, in the sense of “finding out the meaning or discerning,” see Judges 14:12, “of a riddle.” This sentence reminds one of a riddle by its form.

Psalm 132:6. Lo, we have heard of it — The ark, or of the place or habitation for the Lord last mentioned; at Ephratah — That is, at Shiloh, in the tribe of Ephraim, there they were told it had been, but it was gone; they found it at last in the fields of the wood — That is, in Kirjath-jearim, which signifies, the city of woods. Thence all Israel fetched it, with great solemnity, in the beginning of David’s reign, 1 Chronicles 13:6; so that, in preparing this place for the ark, he gratified all Israel, they needed not to go about to seek it any more: they now knew where to find it. Some learned men, however, being of opinion that Jerusalem, which was at no great distance from Bethlehem, was within the district called Ephratah, give a different interpretation of this verse, and consider the psalmist as speaking of having found the place on which the temple was to be fixed. Thus Bishop Patrick: “And now, behold the Lord himself, to our great joy, hath told us the very place where he will fix his habitation, in the territory of Bethlehem, Ephratah: (Genesis 35:16; Genesis 35:19,) in the fields of that forest where the angel stood and directed David to build an altar unto the Lord, 1 Chronicles 21:18; 1 Chronicles 22:1.”132:1-10 David bound himself to find a place for the Lord, for the ark, the token of God's presence. When work is to be done for the Lord, it is good to tie ourselves to a time. It is good in the morning to fix upon work for the day, with submission to Providence, for we know not what a day may bring forth. And we should first, and without delay, seek to have our own hearts made a habitation of God through the Spirit. He prays that God would take up his dwelling in the habitation he had built; that he would give grace to the ministers of the sanctuary to do their duty. David pleads that he was the anointed of the Lord, and this he pleads as a type of Christ, the great Anointed. We have no merit of our own to plead; but, for His sake, in whom there is a fulness of merit, let us find favour. And every true believer in Christ, is an anointed one, and has received from the Holy One the oil of true grace. The request is, that God would not turn away, but hear and answer their petitions for his Son's sake.Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah - Most probably this is the language of the contemporaries of David; or this is what they might be supposed to say; or this is what tradition reports that they did say. David's purpose, as referred to in the previous verses, is not recorded in the history, and the memory of the whole transaction may have been handed down by tradition. Or, this may be merely poetic language, expressing the feelings of those who, when sent out by David, or accompanying him, found the ark. Much difficulty has been felt in regard to this verse. There is no mention in the history of the fact that the ark was "heard of" at Ephrata, or that it was ever there. The name Ephrata - אפרתה 'ephrâthâh - is applied

(1) to a region of country to which was subsequently given the name Bethlehem, Genesis 35:16-19; Ruth 4:11.

(2) Properly to Bethlehem, a city of Judah, the full name of which was Bethlehem-Ephratah, Genesis 48:7; Micah 5:2.

(3) It is a proper name, 1 Chronicles 2:19, 1 Chronicles 2:50; 1 Chronicles 4:4.

(4) It may perhaps be the same as Ephraim.

Compare Judges 12:5; 1 Samuel 1:1; 1 Kings 11:26. Some have supposed the meaning to be, that they found it within the limits of the tribe of Ephraim, and that the word Ephratah is used here with reference to that; but this is a forced construction. It may have been indeed true that the ark was found within the limits of that tribe, but the word Ephratah would not naturally denote this; and, besides, the tribe of Ephraim was so large, and covered such an extent of territory, that this would convey no distinct information; and it cannot be supposed that the writer meant to say merely that they found it within the limits of a tribe. Nor can it mean that they actually found the ark at Ephrata, or Bethlehem, for this would not be true. A simple and natural interpretation of the passage has been suggested, which seems to make it plain: that, in their search for the ark, it was at Ephratah or Bethlehem that they first heard of it, but that they actually found it in the fields of the wood. It may seem strange that there should have been so much uncertainty about the ark as is here implied; that David did not know where it was; and that none of the priests knew. But, while it must be admitted that it seems to be strange, and that the fact is not of easy explanation, it is to he remembered that the ark was at one time in the possession of the Philistines; that when it was retaken it seems to have had no very permanent resting place; that it may have been removed from one spot to another as circumstances required; that it may have been committed now to one, and now to another, for safe keeping; and thus it might have occurred, in the unsettled and agitated state of affairs, that its exact situation might be unknown, and that a somewhat diligent search was necessary in order to find it We know too little of the times to enable us to pronounce upon the subject with much confidence.

We found it in the fields of the wood - Continuing our search, we found it there. Perhaps Kirjath-jearim, 1 Samuel 7:1; 1 Chronicles 13:5. It was to Kirjath-jearim that the ark was carried after it had been taken by the Philistines 1 Samuel 6:21. The literal meaning of the passage here is, "The fields of the wood" - or of Jear, where the word in Hebrew is the same as in Kirjath-jearim. The name Kirjath-jearim means Forest Town, or, city of the woods; and the allusion here is the same as in 1 Samuel 7:1. The interpretation, then, seems to be that they heard of the ark, or learned where it was, when they were at Ephrata or Bethlehem; but that they actually found it in the vicinity of Kirjath-jearim. The ignorance in the case may have been merely in regard to the exact place or house where it was at that time kept. Bethlehem was the home or city of David, and the idea is, that, when there, and when it was contemplated to remove the ark to Mount Zion, information or intelligence was brought there of its exact locality, and they went forth to bring it to its new abode or its permanent resting place.

6. These may be the "words of David" and his pious friends, who,

at Ephratah—or Beth-lehem (Ge 48:7), where he once lived, may have heard of the ark, which he found for the first time

in the fields of the wood—or, Jair, or Kirjath-jearim ("City of woods") (1Sa 7:1; 2Sa 6:3, 4), whence it was brought to Zion.

We heard of it; of the place or habitation for the Lord last mentioned.

At Ephratah; either,

1. In Bethlehem, which is called Ephratah, Genesis 35:19 48:7 Micah 5:2. So the sense is either this, We heard a rumour at Bethlehem among David’s relations, that the ark should be removed to a new place, and that David had pitched upon it; or this, We heard that Bethlehem would be the place for it, because it was the city of David. Or rather,

2. In the tribe of Ephraim, which was called also Ephratah or Ephrathah, as is manifest, because the men of Ephraim were called Ephrathites, as Judges 12:5, in the Hebrew text, though in the English it be Ephraimite. So Jeroboam is called an Ephrathite, 1 Kings 11:26. So the sense is, We heard it from our fathers, that the ancient place of it was Shiloh, which was in the land of Ephraim; whereby he covertly intimates that God rejected and forsook that place, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim, as it is said, Psalm 78:67, that so he might make way for Zion, which was the place chosen by God for it, as it follows here, Psalm 132:13.

We found it; afterwards we found it elsewhere.

In the fields of the wood, i.e. in a field, or in one of the fields of the wood; for that little spot of ground in which the tabernacle or temple was built was not likely to be in several fields. Thus Jephthah was buried in the cities of Gilead, Judges 12:7, i.e. in one of them. This is meant either,

1. Of the Mount Moriah, which might possibly be called the field of the wood, as being anciently a place full of wood, Genesis 22:13, or of the threshing-floor of Araunah, of which see 2 Samuel 24:18, which before the building of the temple is said to have been a woody place. Or rather,

2. Of Kirjath-jearim, which signifies a city of woods, in the field or territory whereof the ark was seated for twenty years, as we read, 1 Samuel 7:1,2. And from this place it was removed to Zion, 2 Samuel 6:1, &c. Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah,.... Either of the ark which David and others had heard of, that it formerly was at Shiloh, Joshua 18:1; here called Ephratah, as some think; so the Ephraimites are called Ephrathites, Judges 12:5; and Elkanah of Ramathaimzophim, of Mount Ephraim, is said to be an Ephrathite, 1 Samuel 1:1; but this tribe the Lord chose not, but the tribe of Judah, for his habitation; and rejected the tabernacle of Shiloh, and removed it from thence, Psalm 78:60;

we found it in the fields of the wood; at Kirjathjearim, which signifies the city of woods; being built among woods, and surrounded with them: here the ark was twenty years, and here David found it; and from hence he brought it to the house of Obededom, and from thence to Zion, 1 Samuel 7:1. Or else the place where the temple was to be built; which was not known till the times of David, who was of Ephratah or Bethlehem: here he was born and brought up; and here he was, as Arama supposes, when it was revealed to him where the temple should be built. According to R. Moses, the sense is, We have heard of it by the hand of David, who was of Ephratah: but Aben Ezra thinks the meaning is, that in former times men used to say, We have heard from the mouths of the prophets that the chosen place was near to Bethlehem Ephratah; only the precise place was not known, whether to the east or west, or north or south, of Bethlehem. Some think that not any particular city is intended, but a country, even all the neighbourhood of Bethlehem Ephratah; and took in Jerusalem, where the temple was built, it being but a few miles from the place; so Adrichomius (u) says, the country round about Ephratah had its name from thence; see 1 Kings 11:26. Now the place found for the building of the temple was "the fields of the wood", or the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite, and was on Mount Moriah; David found by the order he had to build an altar here, and by the acceptance of his sacrifices, that this was the place for the house of God, 1 Chronicles 22:1; and here Solomon built the temple, 2 Chronicles 3:1; and which was formerly a woody place, as mountains generally are; and this seems to have been when Abraham offered his son on it, who then spied a ram caught in the thickets, Genesis 22:2. The Targum is,

"we found it in the field of the forest of Lebanon, the place where the ancient fathers prayed;''

the temple being built of the wood of Lebanon. But all this is to be understood of the Lord, the mighty God of Jacob, who was heard of at Ephratah; the Shechinah, of divine Majesty; so Kimchi, Arama, and Ben Melech. And indeed the Messiah is meant, the antitype of the ark and temple; of whom the saints or believers in him, a chorus of which is here introduced, had heard that he should be born at Ephratah, which is Bethlehem; see Genesis 35:19. And if this psalm was written by the captives in Babylon, they might have heard of this from the prophecy of Micah, Psalm 5:2; the shepherds heard from the mouths of the angels that Christ was born there; and we Christians have heard the same, and know and believe it, Luke 2:4. And he has been "found in the fields of the wood"; in a low, mean, abject state, as this phrase signifies; Ezekiel 16:5. The shepherds found him rejected from being in the inn, there being no room for him, and lying in a manger, Luke 2:7; the angels found him in the wilderness, among the wild beasts of the field, Mark 1:13; nor had he the convenience even of foxes, and birds of the air; had no habitation or place where to lay his head, Matthew 8:20; And he is to be found in the field of the Scriptures, where this rich treasure and pearl of great price lies hid, Matthew 13:44; and being preached among the Gentiles, after his incarnation, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension, who are compared to wildernesses, and desert places, was found by many of them, Isaiah 35:1; and which serves to set off with a foil his glory; being like the apple tree among the trees of the wood, Sol 2:3.

(u) Theatrum Terrae Sanct. p. 41.

Lo, we heard of it at {d} Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.

(d) The common instinct was that the ark should remain in Ephratah, that is, in Bethlehem a plentiful place: but later we perceived that you would place it in Jerusalem, which was barren as a forest and compassed about only with hills.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. The abruptness of the transition is at first sight perplexing; but instead of giving a prosaic account of the transportation of the Ark to Zion, the Psalmist introduces the people of David’s time as speakers, proclaiming the eagerness and joy with which they welcomed David’s proposal, and their resolve to worship Jehovah in His new sanctuary. The removal of the Ark was a national movement. See 2 Samuel 6:2; 2 Samuel 6:15; 1 Chronicles 13:1 ff; 1 Chronicles 15:28.

It may best be explained to mean the Ark, as the great object which the poet has in mind, though it is not actually mentioned till Psalm 132:8. It might mean the tidings or the plan, but this sense does not suit the verb found, nor is it easy to connect it with the designations of place.

But what is meant by we heard of it in Ephrathah, we found it in the fields of the forest? (1) Elsewhere Ephrathah is a name for Bethlehem (Genesis 35:16; Genesis 35:19; Genesis 48:7; Ruth 4:11 : cp. Micah 5:2; 1 Samuel 17:12). But the Ark never had any connexion with Bethlehem. To refer we to David, and to explain, ‘I heard of it while I was still in my home in Bethlehem,’ is forced, and leaves the transition from the sing. in Psalm 132:3-5 to the plural unexplained. (2) It has been thought that Ephrathah may mean Ephraim, as Ephrathite means Ephraimite (1 Samuel 1:1), and that the reference is to the sojourn of the Ark at Shiloh. ‘We heard that the Ark was in Shiloh in the days of old, but when we sought it, it was no longer there, but in an obscure refuge in the fields of the forest.’ (3) Delitzsch ingeniously argues that Ephrathah was a name for the district in which Kiriath-jearim was situated. The firstborn son of Caleb’s wife Ephrath was Hur (1 Chronicles 2:19), who is called ‘the father’ of Bethlehem (1 Chronicles 4:4). Hur’s son Shobal was ‘the father’ of Kiriath-jearim, and his son Salma the ‘father’ of Bethlehem (1 Chronicles 2:50-51). May not the district of Kiriath-jearim have been called Ephrathah, as well as that of Bethlehem? This is perhaps the best explanation; for there can be little doubt that the fields of the forest (jaar) mean the neighbourhood of Kiriath-jearim, ‘the city of forests,’ where the Ark had rested for many years in the house of Abinadab (1 Samuel 7:1-2), and still was, when David resolved to remove it to Zion (1 Chronicles 13:5-6). It should be noticed that the narrative in 1 Samuel 7:1 ff. implies that the Ark was not actually in the town, but in its neighbourhood.

The suggestion that Ephrathah means the fertile plains, and the fields of the forest the uncultivated jungle, and that the meaning is, ‘the news of David’s plan spread through field and forest,’ i.e. all over the country, is far-fetched and improbable.

6–10. The enthusiasm of Israel at the establishment of the sanctuary in Jerusalem (6, 7); their prayer that Jehovah will deign to occupy it, and will bless priests, people, and king (8–10).Verses 6-10. - The realization of David's design. The resting-place is, after a time, discovered and prepared. The ark is brought up and placed in it (1 Kings 8:1-11). The "priests" are" clothed with righteousness," and the "saints shout for joy." God "turns not away the face of his anointed," but accepts the costly offering. God himself "arises into his rest," and makes his presence visible from the mercy-seat (1 Kings 8:10, 11; 2 Chronicles 5:13, 14). Verse 6. - Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah. "It" is probably "the ark" - not yet mentioned, but a main object of the writer's thoughts; and "Ephratah" is the district south and west of Jerusalem, in which both Bethlehem and Kirjath-jearim were situated. And found it in the fields of the wood; rather, in the fields of Jaar. "Jaar" is a contracted and poetic name for Kirjath-jearim, where the ark remained from its return out of the country of the Philistines till David transferred it to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 13:5-13). This little song is inscribed לדוד because it is like an echo of the answer (2 Samuel 6:21.) with which David repelled the mocking observation of Michal when he danced before the Ark in a linen ephod, and therefore not in kingly attire, but in the common raiment of the priests: I esteem myself still less than I now show it, and I appear base in mine own eyes. In general David is the model of the state of mind which the poet expresses here. He did not push himself forward, but suffered himself to be drawn forth out of seclusion. He did not take possession of the throne violently, but after Samuel has anointed him he willingly and patiently traverses the long, thorny, circuitous way of deep abasement, until he receives from God's hand that which God's promise had assured to him. The persecution by Saul lasted about ten years, and his kingship in Hebron, at first only incipient, seven years and a half. He left it entirely to God to remove Saul and Ishbosheth. He let Shimei curse. He left Jerusalem before Absalom. Submission to God's guidance, resignation to His dispensations, contentment with that which was allotted to him, are the distinguishing traits of his noble character, which the poet of this Psalm indirectly holds up to himself and to his contemporaries as a mirror, viz., to the Israel of the period after the Exile, which, in connection with small beginnings under difficult circumstances, had been taught humbly contented and calm waiting.

With לבּי לא־גבהּ the poet repudiates pride as being the state of his soul; with לא־רמוּ עיני (lo-ramū' as in Proverbs 30:13, and before Ajin, e.g., also in Genesis 26:10; Isaiah 11:2, in accordance with which the erroneous placing of the accent in Baer's text is to be corrected), pride of countenance and bearing; and with ולא־הלּכתּי, pride of endeavour and mode of action. Pride has its seat in the heart, in the eyes especially it finds its expression, and great things are its sphere in which it diligently exercises itself. The opposite of "great things" (Jeremiah 23:3; Jeremiah 45:5) is not that which is little, mean, but that which is small; and the opposite of "things too wonderful for me" (Genesis 18:14) is not that which is trivial, but that which is attainable.

אם־לא does not open a conditional protasis, for where is the indication of the apodosis to be found? Nor does it signify "but," a meaning it also has not in Genesis 24:38; Ezekiel 3:6. In these passages too, as in the passage before us, it is asseverating, being derived from the usual formula of an oath: verily I have, etc. שׁוּה signifies (Isaiah 28:25) to level the surface of a field by ploughing it up, and has an ethical sense here, like ישׂר with its opposites עקב and עפּל. The Poel סּומם is to be understood according to דּוּמיּה in Psalm 62:2, and דּוּמם in Lamentations 3:26. He has levelled or made smooth his soul, so that humility is its entire and uniform state; he has calmed it so that it is silent and at rest, and lets God speak and work in it and for it: it is like an even surface, and like the calm surface of a lake. Ewald and Hupfeld's rendering: "as a weaned child on its mother, so my soul, being weaned, lies on me," is refuted by the consideration that it ought at least to be כּגמוּלה, but more correctly כּן גמולה; but it is also besides opposed by the article which is swallowed up in כּגּמל, according to which it is to be rendered: like one weaned beside its mother (here כּגמול on account of the determinative collateral definition), like the weaned one (here כּגּמול because without any collateral definition: cf. with Hitzig, Deuteronomy 32:2, and the like; moreover, also, because referring back to the first גמול, cf. Habakkuk 3:8), is my soul beside me (Hitzig, Hengstenberg, and most expositors). As a weaned child - viz. not one that is only just begun to be weaned, but an actually weaned child (גּמל, cognate גּמר eta, to bring to an end, more particularly to bring suckling to an end, to wean) - lies upon its mother without crying impatiently and craving for its mother's breast, but contented with the fact that it has its mother - like such a weaned child is his soul upon him, i.e., in relation to his Ego (which is conceived of in עלי as having the soul upon itself, cf. Psalm 42:7; Jeremiah 8:18; Psychology, S. 151f., tr. p. 180): his soul, which is by nature restless and craving, is stilled; it does not long after earthly enjoyment and earthly good that God should give these to it, but it is satisfied in the fellowship of God, it finds full satisfaction in Him, it is satisfied (satiated) in Him.

By the closing strain, Psalm 131:3, the individual language of the Psalm comes to have a reference to the congregation at large. Israel is to renounce all self-boasting and all self-activity, and to wait in lowliness and quietness upon its God from now and for evermore. For He resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

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