A Song of degrees. LORD, remember David, and all his afflictions:
In the Psalm before us this prayer stands in a kind of central position: central to the need which prompted it on the one hand, and on the other hand to the bountiful answer which it received.
I. The Temple is here spoken of as the "rest" or abiding-place of God. The original allusion is doubtless to the long wanderings of the symbol of His presence; and it marks a transition from the nomadic condition of the tribes to the compacted life of the nation, and a transfer of obligation suited to the change.
II. The Temple, gorgeous as it was, was incomplete and valueless without the ark. Unless the Lord took possession, the house was left unto the builders desolate, alienated from the purposes of its construction, a lonely and decorated folly.
III. Notice the other blessings which are directly or by obvious implication asked for in the prayer. (1) The presence of God is the chief, the all-absorbing, object of desire; but that presence implies its own diffusion in blessing. The ark of His strength in the Temple implies that those who are in communion with Him may draw upon the resources of His power. (2) The prayer then asks that the "priests may be clothed with righteousness," which is, in fact, a petition for personal purity. (3) The third blessing asked for is a holy joy in God—joy which has its foundation in the sense of oneness with God both in favour and feeling, and which has its outlet in the appropriate expressions of praise.
IV. Notice the bountiful answer to the prayer, so prompt, so generous, so full. The first ten verses of the Psalm are the prayer. In the eleventh the answer begins. The petition is, "Arise, O Lord, into Thy rest;" the answer, "This is My rest for ever:" the prayer, "Let Thy priests be clothed with righteousness;" the answer, "I will also clothe her priests with salvation" which is of righteousness the flower, and crown, and perfecting: the prayer, "Let Thy saints shout for joy;" the response, "And her saints shall shout aloud for joy." And then, as if were thrown in the largess of the King, there are abundance and bounty, the blessings of the camp and of the "horn;" that is, the gifts of wisdom and power, the discomfiture of his enemies and on his head an ever-prosperous crown.
W. Morley Punshon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 385.
Psalm 132:9What did these words "priests" and "saints" mean to a Jew? Why does the Psalmist perceive such a close connection between the righteousness of the one and the joy of the other?
I. A whole book of the Pentateuch is written to tell us what the Jewish priest was and what work he did. He could appoint nothing, devise nothing. He was told what he had to do. He was called out, as every other officer of the commonwealth was called out, to be a witness of the Lord God of Israel, of Him who was revealing Himself to the nation, delivering them, governing them, feeding them, judging them. The atonement day testified that the priest was holy, just as every man in the nation was holy, because God had chosen him to be His servant, to do His work; and that he was bound to consider himself holy upon that ground, and upon no other.
II. We have learnt, in speaking of the Jewish priests, what the Jewish saints were. Were they the good men, the choice men of the land, those who stand out in such broad and startling contrast to the stiff-necked race about them? Surely they were these, but then only because they were Israelites, and believed themselves to be Israelites, and claimed the rights of Israelites.
III. The prophets trace many of the nation's worst corruptions to the priests. They represented the holiness of the nation; if they ever began to fancy that the holiness was their own, that it belonged to them as members of a caste by hereditary right, one can fancy how soon security would take the place of vigilance, how easily they would learn to look in other men for the evils that were getting full possession of their own hearts, how gladly they would escape from the dreary routine of duties that had no meaning for them to coarse animal indulgence. The effect of such spectacles in lowering the tone of the people at large would be gradual and certain. A joyless, thankless spirit would be diffused through all hearts, visible on all countenances. Everywhere there would be a sense of death and dread of it, a glow of life scarcely anywhere. That such a state of things might not overtake his land, the Psalmist prayed, "Let Thy priests be clothed with righteousness; let Thy saints shout for joy."
IV. There is the same connection as in former days between the unrighteousness of the priests and the joylessness of the saints or the Church. The prayer of the Psalmist is still the one which we have most need to offer. Throughout the history of modern Europe this truth, I think, is written in sunbeams: that the degeneracy of the priesthood is the main cause of the degeneracy of the nations; and this other: that the degeneracy of the priesthood is always connected with unbelief in the righteousness of God.
F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. vi., p. 237.
References: Psalm 132:13, Psalm 132:16.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 248. Psalm 132:15.—J. Baldwin Brown, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvii., p. 57.
This Psalm is plainly a hymn for the consecration of the Temple. We may call it the song of the builders. In its first portion, extending to the close of the seventh verse, the Church pleads with God the many thoughts and long toils that had laid the foundation for His house.
I. Let us gather from this portion some lessons touching preparatory work. (1) Look at the picture which is given us here of the aged king setting himself to his task. He has a sense almost of shame in thinking of his own ease and comfort while so much remains to be done. The repose which he has earned and reached at last he will not take. He will put his own comfort second, God's service—which is but the noblest name for duty—first. The picture of the text may be a rebuke to the slothfulness of us all. (2) Notice, too, that David's devotedness does make a plea with God. The prayer goes upon the supposition that his toil and self-sacrifice will not, cannot, be all in vain. And the prayer built upon that supposition is answered. (3) Consider how God's remembrance of such preparatory work is shown. David saw no result from all his toils to build the Temple. He got together the great store, but it was reserved for another to mould it into completeness and to see the cloud of glory fill the house. But none the less was it true that God remembered David and all his afflictions, and accepted and crowned his work. So it is with much of every man's doings. We all receive unfinished tasks from those who go before; we all transmit unfinished tasks to them that come after. Our vocation is to advance a little the dominion of God's truth, and to be one of the long line who pass on the torch from hand to hand.
II. Psalm 132:8-10 : The prayer for God's blessing on the builders' work. (1) Notice the one great blessing which all builders for God should desire: "Arise, O Lord, into Thy rest," for the Temple of our rearing is not completed till the ark is in its sanctuary and the cloud fills its courts. (2) From this fundamental petition all the other clauses of the prayer flow: (a) power; (b) righteousness; (c) gladness. Such are the Psalmist's desires for his nation.
III. The final section of the Psalm contains the Divine answer, which more than fulfils the Psalmist's desires. Each single petition is enlarged in the answer to something much greater than itself.
A. Maclaren, Sermons Preached in Manchester, 2nd series, p. 259.
Reference: Psalm 132—S. Cox, The Pilgrim Psalms, p. 261.
How he sware unto the LORD, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob;
Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed;
I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids,
Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.
Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.
We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool.
Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.
Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.
For thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed.
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.
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.
For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.
This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread.
I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed.
His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.