There are two parts to this Psalm divided by what I think of as an awkward dance in the middle (Ps. 132:10-12). The entire Psalm is addressing the problem stated in Ps. 132:1 READ. This Psalm is for those who are suffering from hardships…trying to make it through ~ and the only answer: God’s promises.
Why do we need God’s promises? Because life is filled with difficulties. That’s Ps. 132:1. READ God knows your heart. God knows the difficulties you face. God knows the personal struggles. King David is an example of a man that was struggling, Don’t know what hardships the author has in mind. David had to run for his life, his own son tried to overthrow him, some hardships were his own making such as adultery and murder….depression…
As we endure hardships, some thrust upon us, some of our own doing, like David, it is understandable to plead with God. Impatience is common! I’ve always liked the insight of a friend who said we are always way behind God or way ahead of him and usually we are way ahead shouting, “Catch up with me God.” That’s David! David twists God’s arm as he promises to find a dwelling place for God, READ Ps. 132:2-5. He swore an oath.
I laugh at David’s commitment to not sleep till he completes his bargain with God. A month ago I flew to Grants Pass to drive Esther and the grand kids here… 2 year old Rowan got confused and thought me coming meant getting in the car right now and driving to see gramma…he was excited. How disappointing to learn we weren’t leaving till the next day…. He announced, “I’m not going to sleep…” David is like a two year old… “I won’t sleep” David is tired and wants God to find a home so he can find peace…David craves the presence of God!
I don’t have time to go into every detail about Ps. 132:6-9… there are reminders of times people yearned for God’s presence… “fields of Jaar” references the time the Ark of God was being transported to Jerusalem and it got diverted for 20 years by the Philistines… the people yearned for God during that time… 132:8-9 is a quotation from Moses when he was tired and wanted rest: READ. Bring this wandering to an end….These are times in Israel’s story they yearned for God...
Ps. 132:6 contains a subtle reminder of the coming birth of Jesus Christ: “We heard it in Ephrathah”… apparently there was unrest, unsettledness in Ephrathah. There is a better known name of this town: // Bethlehem.///. Bethlehem is birthplace of two world changing people. The author of Ps. 132 looks back knowing B. is the boyhood home of King David; I doubt the author realizes he is also looking forward to the greater significance of Bethlehem as the town where Jesus Christ is born….a prophetic Psalm…
Ps. 132:7-9 describes the best outcome of the promises of God that David can imagine. READ. These are all good things… but as we’ll see in the last section, God’s promises enlarge upon David’s imagination of what the ultimate fulfillment will look like. God’s promise to us is always greater than what we can imagine.
Ps. 132:1 speaks for us: “O Lord, remember [me] and all the hardships [I am enduring.” in our desperation, like David, we may make crazy promises like going without sleep, but its silly to try and bargain with God…. God knows us, my heart, my hardships… desiring God is enough, because his promises are not only unconditional, but they are greater than anything we can imagine!
An Awkward Dance ~ Unconditional vs. conditional promises
Ps. 132:10 READ. I.e. “God, I’m holding you to your promises.” I like that… It’s not necessary for God to be reminded, but it’s good for us… that’s why we read the Bible, that’s why we pray, that’s how we remain grounded in faith. God’s promise to David is that there would always be a King to sit on the throne in the line of David (2 Sam. 7:11-13). We know this promise is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Now comes the awkward dance. Ps. 132:11-12. v. 11 describes the unconditional promise of God… but then in v. 12 there seems to be a condition, “IF”.READ. So are God’s promises conditional or unconditional? The way I work it out: All of God’s promises are unconditional, but in our earthiness, we cannot fathom what that means, so we practice an impure faith… On this side of eternity we’ll always face this tension…I so wish I could be so full of faith that I could get rid of all my worry, doubt, working hard, thinking God needs me. I know in my head I can’t earn God’s salvation, but my hear t needs convincing… I underlined, “A sure oath he will not revoke.” That’s the outstanding line that colors God’s promises…
Impure faith often looks like a two year old pronouncing I won’t sleep till I get you to do what I want…”
God’s Promises explodes our expectations
Ps. 132:13-18 READ. God’s promises go beyond our ability to earn or deserve them… yet his promises are unconditional. This is a fulfillment of Eph. 3:20, ““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.”
God’s promises are bigger than our imagination. God will put a descendant of David on the throne forever, and His name is Jesus. God took David’s well intentioned pleading and made them better! I like what one person [Samuel Cox] says about Ps. 132: “It reminds us how God meets and outdoes our requests and is ever more ready to give than we are to ask.”
There’s a contrast between David’s vision and God’s promised fulfillment. In Ps. 32:9 David’s vision is that when the promise is fulfilled the priests will be clothed with righteousness. What does Ps. 32:16 say the priests will be clothed with? SALVATION! David imagines the priests sing for Joy, but in 16 God enlarges the promise to EVER singing… a heavenly eternal song. God’s promises are greater than our imagination… Don’t limit God’s promises to our visions …
Ps. 132:13-14 God promises to dwell with his people. The temple is not mentioned! READ. The Bible makes it clear God is never confined to a building. Jacob built a little altar once upon a time… the tent when Moses cross the wilderness was temporary, so was Solomon’s Temple. As magnificent as it was history tells us it was destroyed. But God wasn’t. Isaiah 66:1 says: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?’”
The promise is God is greater than David’s vision of God a temple: John 1:14 says: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” We read about Jesus’ birth in Matthew 1:22-23: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ – which means, ‘God with us.’”
God lived with us symbolically through the ark in the temple. His greater presence came through the birth of Jesus Christ. Today he dwells with us spiritually through the Holy Spirit. There is coming an even greater fulfillment of God’s promise to be with us: He will be with us in the new heaven and the new earth.
This is what the last two verses of Psalm 132 is about. READ Ps. 132:17-18. This goes so far beyond David’s vision of God living in a temple. This is the promise that is still coming, the promise that goes much further than God resolving my earthly problems… these promises come together and are fulfilled in heaven where Christ reigns as king and where we will dwell with him forever. READ again…
This imagery is picked up in the book of Revelation and the coming last days. The horn is a symbol for strength. The lamp is a symbol for light and life. The crown speaks of Christ’s rule and holiness. His crown is shining/resplendant ~ Christ’s glory.
Psalm 132 tells us there are two types of clothing in the coming day. God will clothe his people with salvation and his enemies with shame. Which clothing will you receive? It all depends on whether you are trusting God for salvation through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the promised one, a promise holding a million times more significance than we can imagine. On this earth we’re stuck in that awkward dance thinking we can move God’s promises along. On earth our imagination of what God’s promises look like are limited. God’s promises explode our visions….
All of God’s promises – his promise to dwell with his people forever, his promise to bless us with his salvation – all are fulfilled by Christ’s reign in eternity. Rev. 21:1-4: “Then I saw … the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘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 be their God … There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”
Ps. 132:1 said to remember David’s hardships…. When God’s promises are ultimately fulfilled, there will be no need to remember the endurance, the hardships.
God’s promises are much greater than anything we can fathom. When Jesus was born the unconditional promises of God were fulfilled in ways nobody could imagine; we are still waiting for the ultimate fulfillment in eternity with Christ Jesus. Ps. 132 was originally written as a song pilgrims would sing as they travelled to Jerusalem for one of the great feasts, “A song of Ascents”… As followers of Jesus we sing it on our way to the heavenly Jerusalem for the heavenly feast. All God’s promises are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
How amazing are the promises of God!