|<< Psalm 132 >>|
The Treasury of David
Title. - A Song of Degrees. A joyful song indeed, let all pilgrims to the New Jerusalem sing it often. The degrees or ascents are very visible; the theme ascends step by step from "afflictions" to a "crown," from "remember David," to "I will make toe horn of David to bud." The latter hall is like the over-arching sky bending above "the fields of the wood" which are found in the resolves and prayers of the former portion.
Division. - Our translators have rightly divided this Psalm. It contains a statement of David's anxious care to build a house for the Lord (Psalm 132:1-7); a prayer at the removal of the ark (Psalm 132:8-10); and a pleading of the divine covenant and its promises (Psalm 132:11-18).
Hints to Preachers
Psalm 132:1. -
I. The Lord remembers Jesus, our David, he loves him, he delights in him, he is with him.
II. In that memory his griefs have a prominent place - "all his afflictions."
III. Yet the Lord would be put in remembrance by his people.
Psalm 132:1, Psalm 132:2. - Concerning his people,
I. The Lord remembers,
1. Their persons.
2. Their afflictions.
3. Their vows.
II. The Lord remembers them,
1. To accept them.
2. To sympathise with them.
3. To assist them.
Psalm 132:1, Psalm 132:2. -
I. God remembers his people, each one: "Remember David." The Spirit maketh intercession within us according to the will of God.
II. He remembers their afflictions, "David and all his afflictions." "I know thy works and thy tribulation."
III. He remembers their vows, especially,
1. Those which relate to his service.
2. Those which are solemnly made.
3. Those which are faithfully performed. - G. R.
Psalm 132:1-5. - Notice,
I. How painfully David felt what he conceived to be a dishonouring of God, which he thought he might be able to remedy. Consider "his affiictions," - because the ark dwelt within curtains, while he himself dwelt in a house of cedar: 2 Samuel 7:2. Consider,
1. Its singularity. Most find affliction in personal losses; very few suffer from a cause like this.
2. The little sympathy such a feeling meets with from the most of men. "If God means to convert the heathen, he can do it without you, young man," was said to Dr., then Mr. Carey, when heathenism was an affliction to him.
3. Its fittingness to a really God-fearing man.
4. Its pleasingness to God, 1 Samuel 2:30.
II. How earnestly he set himself to remedy the evil he deplored: "He sware," etc. There cannot be the least doubt that he would have foregone the enjoyment of temporal luxuries until he had accomplished the work dear to his heart, if he had been permitted of God. Remark,
1. There is little zeal for God's honour when self-denial is not exercised for the sake of his cause.
2. Were a like zeal generally shown by God's people, there would be more givers and more liberal gifts; more workers, and the work more heartily and better done.
3. It would be well to astonish the world, and deserve the commendations of the righteous by becoming enthusiasts for the honour of God. - J. F.
Psalm 132:3-5. -
I. We should desire a habitation for God more than for ourselves. God should have the best of everything. "See, now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains."
II. We should be guided by the house of God in seeking a house for ourselves: "Surely I will not come," etc.
III. We should labour for the prosperity of God's house even more than of our own. Nothing should make sleep more sweet to us than when the church of God prospers; nothing keep us more awake then when it declines: "I will not give sleep," etc. (Psalm 132:4); "Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?" - G. R.
Psalm 132:5. - Something to live form to find fresh habitations for God.
I. The Condescension implied: God with us.
II. The Districts explored: hearts, homes, "dark places of the earth."
III. The Royalty of the Work. It makes King David busy, and is labour worthy of a king. - W. B. H.
Psalm 132:5. - "A place for the Lord." In the heart, the home, the assembly, the life. Everywhere we must find or make a place for the Lord.
Psalm 132:5. - "The mighty God of Jacob."
I. Mighty, and therefore he joined heaven and earth at Bethel.
II. Mighty, and therefore brought Jacob back from Mesopotamia.
III. Mighty, and yet wrestled with him at Jabbok.
IV. Mighty, and yet allowed him to be afflicted.
V. Mighty and therefore gave him full deliverance.
Psalm 132:6, Psalm 132:7. - We shall use this for practical purposes. A soul longing to meet with God. God has appointed a meeting place.
I. We know what it is. A mercy-seat, a throne of grace, a place of revealed glory. Within it the law preserved. Heavenly food - pot of manna. Holy rule - Aaron's rod.
II. We desire to find it. Intensely. Immediately. Reverently. Longing to receive it.
III. We heard of it. In our young days. We almost forget where. From ministers, from holy men, from those who loved us.
IV. We found it. Where we least expected it. In a despised place. In a lonely place. Where we lost ourselves. Very near us - where we hid like Adam among the trees.
V. We will go. To God in Christ. For all he gives. To dwell with him. To learn of him.
VI. We will worship. Humbly. Solemnly. Gratefully. Preparing for heaven.
Psalm 132:7. -
I. The Place: "His tabernacles."
1. Built for God.
2. Accepted by God: present everywhere, he is especially present here.
II. The Attendance: "We will go," etc. There God is present to meet us, and there we should be present to meet him.
III. The Design:
1. For adoration.
2. For Self-consecration: "We will worship at his footstool." - G. R.
Psalm 132:8, Psalm 132:9. -
I. The Presence of God desired -
1. That it may be signally manifested: "Arise" and enter.
2. That it may be gracious: "Thou and the ark" - that he may be, present on the mercy-seat.
3. That it may be felt, accompanied with power: "The ark of thy strength."
4. That it may be abiding: "Arise into thy rest."
II. The reasons for this desire.
1. With respect to the priests or ministers: "Let thy priests," etc.: not their own righteousness, but as a clothing: let them speak of "garments of salvation" and "robes of righteousness."
2. With respect to the worshippers: "And let thy saints," etc. Let ministers preach the gift of righteousness; not that which grows out of man's nature, but that which is "unto all and upon all them that believe," and saints will shout for joy. - G. R.
Psalm 132:9. - Consider,
I. The importance of a righteous ministry in the church.
II. The connection between such a ministry and a joyous people.
III. The dependence of both on the gracious working of God. - J. F.
Psalm 132:9 (second clause). -
III. Explaining - "for joy."
IV. Encouraging - "Let thy saints shout."
Psalm 132:9 (second clause). - The connection between holiness and joy.
Psalm 132:9, Psalm 132:16. - The Spiritual Vestry.
I. The Vestments:
1. Righteousness; for which the costliest stole is a poor substitute.
2.:Salvation: learning, oratory, etc., of small account in comparison.
II. The Procuring of the vestments:
1. Must be from God.
2. Earnest prayer should constantly arise from all saints.
III. The Robing:
1. By God's own hand!
2. Their beauty and power who are so invested.
3. The persons are "thy priests." - W. B. H.
Psalm 132:9, Psalm 132:16. -
I. Priests and Saints.
III. "Hymns Ancient and Modern."
IV. The Real Presence, God giving the garments and the joy.
Psalm 132:10. -
I. An evil to be deprecated: "Turn not away the face" - so that he cannot see thee, or be seen of thee, or accepted, or allowed to hope.
II. A plea to be employed, "for thy servant David's sake" - thy covenant with him, his zeal, his consecration, his afflictions, his service. Good gospel pleading, such as may be used on many occasions.
Psalm 132:11. -
I. The divine oath.
II. Its eternal stability.
III. The everlasting Kingship.
Psalm 132:11 (middle clause). - Our confidence: "He will not turn from it." He is not a changing God. He foreknew everything. He is able to carry out his purpose. His honour is bound up in it. His oath can never be broken.
Psalm 132:12. - Family favour may be perpetual, but the conditions must be observed.
Psalm 132:13. -
I. Sovereign choice.
II. Condescending indwelling.
III. Eternal rest.
IV. Gracious reason - "I have desired it."
Psalm 132:14. -
I. God finding rest in his church.
1. The three persons honoured.
2. The divine nature exercised.
3. Eternal purposes fulfilled.
4. Almighty energies rewarded.
5. Tremendous sacrifices remembered.
6. Glorious attributes extolled.
7. Dearest relationships indulged.
II. This rest enduring for ever.
1. There will always be a church.
2. That church will always be such as God can rest in.
3. That church will therefore be secure on earth.
4. That church will be glorified eternally in heaven.
Psalm 132:15. -
I. Blessed provision.
II. Satisfied people - "satisfy her poor."
III. Glorified God - "I will."
IV. Happy place - Zion.
Psalm 132:16, Psalm 132:18. - Two forms of clothing: salvation and shame, prepared for his priests and his enemies. Which will you wear?
Psalm 132:17. - A Lamp ordained for God's Anointed. Being the Substance of Two Sermons, by Ebenezer Erskine. [Works, Vol. 3, pp. 3-41.]
Psalm 132:17, Psalm 132:18. -
I. The budding horn of growing power.
II. The perpetual lamp of constant brightness.
III. The sordid array of defeated foes.
IV. The unfading wreath of glorious sovereignty.
Psalm 132:18. -
I. His enemies clothed.
1. Who are they? The openly profane. The moral but irreligious. The self-righteous. The hypocritical.
2. How clothed with shame? In repentance, in disappointment, in remorse, in destruction. Sin detected. Self defeated. Hopes scattered.
3. Who clothes them? The Lord. He will shame them thoroughly.
II. Himself crowned.
1. His crown: his dominion and glory.
2. Its flourishing. Glory extending. Subjects increasing. Wealth growing. Foes fearing, etc.
Psalm 132:18 (last clause). - The Lord Jesus himself the source, sustenance, and centre of the prosperity of his kingdom.
Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Lightfoot ascribes this Psalm to David, and supposes it to have been composed on the second removal of the ark from the house of Obed-edom: 1 Chronicles 15:4, etc. But the mention of David's name in Psalm 132:10 in the third person, and the terms there employed, militate against his being the author. Others ascribe it to Solomon, who, they think, wrote it about the time of the removing of the ark into the Temple which he had built for it: 2 Chronicles 5:2, etc. Others are of opinion, that it was composed by Solomon for the solemn services that were celebrated at the dedication of the Temple. - James Anderson's note to Calvin in loc.
The Psalm is divided into four stanzas of ten lines, each of which contains the name of David. The first part begins with speaking of David's vow to the Lord; the third with the Lord's promise to David. - William Kay.
The parallelisms need to be traced with some care. Psalm 132:1, Psalm 132:2, Psalm 132:3, Psalm 132:4, Psalm 132:5, Psalm 132:6 are answered by Psalm 132:12; Psalm 132:7 by Psalm 132:13; Psalm 132:8 by Psalm 132:14; Psalm 132:9 by Psalm 132:15,Psalm 132:16; Psalm 132:10 by Psalm 132:17, Psalm 132:18.
An attention to these parallelisms is often necessary to bring out the meaning of Scripture. - Joseph Angus, in "The Bible Handbook," 1862.
"Lord, remember." It is a gracious privilege to be permitted to be God's remembrancers. Faith is encouraged to remind him of his covenant, and of his precious promises. There is, indeed, no forgetfulness with him. The past, as also the future, is a present page before his eye. But by this exercise we impress on our own minds invaluable lessons. - Henry Law.
"Remember David, and all his afflictions." Solomon was a wise man, yet pleads not any merit of his own; - I am not worthy, for whom thou shouldst do this, but, "Lord, remember David," with whom thou madest the covenant; as Moses prayed (Exodus 32:13), "Remember Abraham," the first trustee of the covenant; remember "all his afflictions," all the troubles of his life, which his being anointed was the occasion of; or his care and concern about the ark, and what an uneasiness it was to him that the ark was in curtains (2 Samuel 7:2). Remember all his humility and weakness, so some read it; all that pious and devout affection with which he had made the following vow. - Matthew Henry.
"Remember ... all his afflictions." The sufferings of believers for the cause of truth are not meritorious, but neither are they in vain; they are not forgotten by God. Matthew 5:11, Matthew 5:12. - Christopher Starke, 1740.
"Afflictions." The Hebrew word for "afflictions" is akin to the word for "trouble" in 1 Chronicles 22:14 : "Now, behold, in my trouble I have prepared for the house of the Lord an hundred thousand talents of gold." - H. T. Armfield.
Psalm 132:1, Psalm 132:2
If the Jew could rightly appeal to God to show mercy to his church and nation for the sake of that shepherd youth whom he had advanced to the kingdom, much more shall we justly plead our cause in the name of David's son (called David four times in the prophets), and of all his trouble, all the sorrows of his birth and infancy, his ministry and passion and death, which he bore as a consequence of his self-dedication to his Father's will, when his priesthood, foreordained from all eternity was confirmed with an oath, "for those [Levitical] priests were made without [swearing] an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek": Hebrews 7:21; Psalm 110:4. - Theodoret and Cassiodorus, in Neale and Littledale.
"And vowed." The history does not record the time nor the occasion of this vow; but history does record how it was ever in David's thoughts and on David's heart. David, indeed, in Psalm 132:1, asks of God to remember his afflictions, and then records his vow; and you may, perhaps, think that the vow was the consequence of his afflictions, and that he made it contingent on his deliverance.... It is far more consistent with the character of David to look upon the affliction to which he alludes as resulting from the Lord's not permitting him to carry out his purpose of erecting an earthly habitation for the God of heaven, inasmuch as he had shed blood abundantly. And if, as is more than probable, amid that blood which he had shed, David's conscience recalled the blood of Uriah as swelling the measure, he could not but be deeply afflicted, even while he acknowledged the righteousness of the sentence.
But though not permitted of God to execute his purpose, we cannot but feel and own that it was a noble resolution which David here makes; and though recorded in all the amplification of Oriental imagery, it expresses the holy determination of the Psalmist to forego every occupation and pursuit, and not to allow a single day to elapse till he had at least fixed on the site of the future temple. - Barton Bouchier.
"He vowed." He who is ready to vow on every occasion will break his vow on every occasion. It is a necessary rule, that "we be as sparing in making our vows as may be"; there being many great inconveniences attending frequent and multiplied vows. It is very observable, that the Scripture mentioneth very few examples of vows, compared with the many instances of very great and wonderful providences; as if it would give us some instances, that we might know what we have to do, and yet would give us but few, that we might know we are not to do it often. You read Jacob lived seven score and seven years (Genesis 47:28); but you read, I think, but of one vow that he made. Our extraordinary exigencies are not many; and, I say, our vows should not be more. Let this, then, be the first necessary ingredient of a well-ordered vow. Let it be no oftener made than the pressing greatness of an evil to be removed, or the alluring excellency of a blessing extraordinary to be obtained, will well warrant. Jephthah's vow was so far right; he had just occasion; there was a great and pressing danger to be removed; there was an excellent blessing to be obtained: the danger was, lest Israel should be enslaved; the blessing was victory over their enemies. This warranted his vow, though his rashness marred it. It was in David's troubles that David sware, and vowed a vow to the Most High; and Jacob forbare to vow until his more than ordinary case bade him vow, and warranted him in so doing: Genesis 28:20. Let us do as he did, - spare to vow, until such case puts us on it. - Henry Hurst (1629? - 1690), in "The Morning Exercises."
"Vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob." The first holy votary that ever we read of was Jacob here mentioned in this text, who is therefore called the father of vows: and upon this account some think David mentions God here under the title of "the mighty God of Jacob," rather than any other, because of his vow. - Abraham Wright.
"The mighty God of Jacob." The title strong one of Jacob, by which God is here designated, first used by Jacob himself, Genesis 49:24, and thence more generally used as is clear from Isaiah 1:24, Isaiah 49:26, and other places, here sets forth God both as the most mighty who is able most severely to punish perjury, and with whom no one may dare to contend, and also as the defender and most mighty vindicator of Israel, such as Jacob had proved him, and all his descendants, in particular David, who frequently rejoiced and gloried in this mighty one and defender. Such a mighty one of Jacob was worthy to have a temple built for him, and was so great that he would not suffer perjury. - Hermann Venema.
Where the interpreters have translated, "the God of Jacob," it is in the Hebrew, "the mighty in Jacob." Which name is sometimes attributed unto the angels, and sometimes it is also applied to other things wherein are great strength and fortitude; as to a lion, an ox, and such like. But here it is a singular word of faith, signifying that God is the power and strength of his people; for only faith ascribeth this unto God. Reason and the flesh do attribute more to riches, and such other worldly helps as man seeth and knoweth. All such carnal helps are very idols, which deceive men, and draw them to perdition; but this is the strength and fortitude of the people, to have God present with them ... So the Scripture saith in another place: "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord." Likewise Paul saith - "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." For this power is eternal, and deceiveth not. All other powers are not only deceitful, but they are transitory, and continue but for a moment. - Martin Luther.
"Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house," etc. To avoid the absurdity of thinking that David should make such a rash and unwarrantable vow as this might seem to be, that till he had his desire satisfied in that which is afterwards expressed he would abide in the open air, and never go within his doors, nor ever take any rest, either by day or by night, some say that David spake this with reference to his purpose of taking the fort of Zion from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:6), where by revelation he knew that God meant to have the ark settled, and which he might probably think would be accomplished within some short time. And then others again say, that he meant it only of that stately cedar house, which he had lately built for himself at Jerusalem (2 Samuel 7:1, 2 Samuel 7:2), to wit, that he would not go into that house; and so also that he would not go up unto his bed, nor (Psalm 132:4) give any sleep to his eyes, nor slumber to his eyelids, to wit, in that house. But neither of these expositions give me any satisfaction. I rather take these to be hyperbolical expressions of the continual, exceeding great care wherewith he was perplexed about providing a settled place for the ark to rest in, like that in Proverbs 6:4, Proverbs 6:5 : "Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids; deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter," etc. Neither is it any more in effect than if he had said, I will never lay by this care to mind myself in anything whatsoever: I shall never with any content abide in mine own house, nor with any quiet rest in my bed, until, etc. - Arthur Jackson, 1593-1666.
"Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house," etc. When he had built himself a palace (1 Chronicles 15:1), it appears by the context, that he did not bless it (1 Chronicles 16:43), nor consequently live in it (for that he might not do till it were blest) until he had first prepared a place, and brought up the ark to it. - Henry Hammond.
"Surely I will not come," etc. Our translation of the verse is justified by Aben Ezra, who remarks that אם is here to be translated not in its usual sense of "if," - "if I shall come" - but as introducing a vow, "I will not come." This idiom, it may be observed, is more or less missed by our existing translation of Hebrews 4:5 : "And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest" - a translation which is the more curious from the fact that the idiom in the present Psalm is hit off exactly in the preceding chapter, Hebrews 3:11 : "So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest." - H. T. Armfield.
"I will not come into the tent which is my house." What does this singular form of expression denote? Is it "an instance of the way in which the associations of the old patriarchal tent life fixed themselves in the language of the people," as Perowne suggests? or does David deliberately select it to imply that even his palace is but a tent as compared with the house that he will rear for God? - Samuel Cox.
"Nor go up into my bed." From the expression of the Psalmist it would seem that a lofty bed was not only a necessary luxury, but a sign of superior rank. This idea was very prevalent in the period of the revival of the arts on the Continent, where the state bed, often six feet high, always stood on a dais in an alcove, richly curtained off from the saloon. In the East the same custom still continues, and a verse in the Koran declares it to be one of the delights of the faithful in paradise that "they shall repose themselves on lofty beds" (Cap. 56, "The Inevitable"). Frequently these state beds were composed of the most costly and magnificent materials. The prophet Amos speaks of ivory beds (Amos 6:4); Nero had a golden one; that of the Mogul Aurungzeebe was jewelled; and, lastly, in the privy purse expenses of our own profligate Charles II., we read of a "silver bedstead for Mrs. Gwynn." And to this day the state bedsteads in the viceregal palace at Cairo are executed in the same metal, and are supposed to have cost upwards of 3,000 each. - From "The Biblical Museum," 1879.
"Surely I will not come," etc. These were all types and figures of Christ, the true David, who, In his desire of raising a living temple and an everlasting tabernacle to God, spent whole nights in prayer, and truly, neither entered his house, nor went up into his bed, nor gave slumber to his eyelids, nor rest to his temples, and presented to himself "a glorious church, not having spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing," nor built "with corruptible gold or silver," but with his own precious sweat and more precious blood; it was with them he built that city in heaven that was seen by St. John in the Apocalypse, and "was ornamented with all manner of precious stones." Hence, we can all understand the amount of care, cost, and labour we need to erect a becoming temple in our hearts to God. - Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), in "A Commentary on the Book of Psalms."
This admirable zeal of this pious king condemns the indifference of those who leave the sacred places which are dependent upon their care in a condition of shameful neglect, while they lavish all their care to make for themselves sumptuous houses. - Pasquier Quesnel (1634-1719), dans "Les Pseaumes, avec des Reflexions," 1700.
"An habitation for the mighty God of Jacob." Jacob "vowed a vow," when he declared, "this.: shall be God's house": Genesis 28:20-22. David accordingly preserved a reminiscence of the fact, when he vowed a vow in connection with a similar object. - H. T. Armfield.
"We heard of it at Ephratah." This is commonly understood of Bethlehem, as that place had this name. But the ark never was at Bethlehem, at least we read of no such thing. There was a district called by this name, or one closely resembling it, where Elkanah, Samuel's father, lived, and whence Jeroboam came, both of whom are called Ephrathites 1 Samuel 1:1; 1 Kings 11:26. This was in the tribe of Ephraim, and is probably the place meant by the Psalmist. Now the ark had been for a long series of years at Shiloh, which is in Ephraim, when it was taken to be present at the battle with the Philistines, in which Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were slain, and when thirty thousand of the Israelites lost their lives, together with the capture of the ark. The frightful report of this calamity was brought to Eli, and occasioned his instant death. This appears to be the event referred to in the words, "We heard of it at Ephratah"; and a grievous report it was, not likely to be soon forgotten.
"We found it in the fields of Jaar." After the ark had been for some time in the land of the Philistines, they sent it away, and it came to Bethshemesh, in the tribe of Judah. 1 Samuel 6:12. In the immediate vicinity of this place was also Kirjath-jearim, i.e. the city of Jaar, to which the ark was removed; for the Bethshemites were afraid to retain it, as many thousands of them had lost their lives, for the violation of the sanctity of the ark, by looking into it. As this slaughter took place close by, if not in the fields of Jaar, the Psalmist, with reference to it, says, "We found it in the fields of Jaar." Having glanced at these two afflictive and memorable events, he goes on with his direct design, of encouraging the people to perform due honour to the ark, and to the temple, by contrasting with the sad occurrences to which he had adverted their present joy and prosperity. - William Wal ford, in "The Book of Psalms. A New Translation, with Notes. 1837.
"We heard of it at Ephratah," etc. 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 (Jud. Psa 12:5); and Elkanah of Ramathaim-zophim, 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, Psalm 78:67, Psalm 78:68). "We found it in the fields of the wood;" at Kirjath-jearim, 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 Obed-edom, and from thence to Zion.
Christ 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, Luke 2:16); 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; he 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. - John Gill.
"We heard of it at Ephratah." The only explanation, equally agreeable to usage and the context, is that which makes Ephratah the ancient name of Bethlehem (Genesis 48:7), here mentioned as the place where David spent his youth, and where he used to hear of the ark, although he never saw it till long afterwards, when he found it in the fields of the wood, in the neighbourhood of Kirjath-jearirm, which name means Forest-town, or City of the Woods. Compare 1 Samuel 7:1 with 2 Samuel 6:3, 2 Samuel 6:4. - Joseph Addison Alexander.
"We heard of it at Ephratah," etc. Having prepared a sumptuous tabernacle, or tent, for the ark on Mount Zion, in the "City of David," a great national assembly was summoned, at which all the tribes were invited to attend its removal to this new sanctuary. The excitement spread over all Israel. "We heard men say at Ephratah [Bethlehem], in the south of the land, and we found them repeat it in the woody Lebanon," sings the writer of Psalm 132:1, according to Ewald's rendering. "Let us go into his tabernacle; let us worship at his footstool." The very words of the summons were fitted to rouse the deepest feelings of the nation, for they were to gather at Baalah, of Judah, another name for Kirjath-jearim, to "bring up thence" to the mountain capital "the Ark of God, called by the name, the name of Jehovah of Hosts that dwelleth between the cherubim": 2 Samuel 6:2. It "had not been enquired at in the days of Saul" : but, when restored, the nation would have their great palladium once more in their midst, and could "appear before God in Zion," and be instructed and taught in the way they should go. - Cunningham Geikie, in "Hours with the Bible," 1881.
"Ephratah." The Psalmist says, that David himself, even when a youth in Bethlehem-Ephratah, heard of the sojourn of the ark in Kirjath-jearim, and that it was a fond dream of David's boyhood to be permitted to bring up the ark to some settled habitation, which he desired to find (Psalm 132:5). - Christopher Wordsworth.
"We found it." The church can never long be hid. The sun reappears after a short eclipse. - Henry Law.
It is not always where we first seek God that he is to be found. "We heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood." We must not be governed by hearsay in seeking for God in Christ; but seek for ourselves until we find. It is not in every house of prayer that God in Christ can be found: after seeking him in gorgeous temples we may find him "in the fields of the woods." "If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or lo, there; believe it not" upon his own testimony, but seek him for yourselves. - George Rogers, 1883.
"We will go ... we will worship." Note their agreement and joint consent, which is visible in the pronoun "we": "We will go." "We" taketh in a whole nation, a whole people, the whole world, and maketh them one. "We" maketh a commonwealth; and "we" maketh a church. We go up to the house of the Lord together, and we hope to go to heaven together. Note their alacrity and cheerfulness in going. Their long absence rendered the object more glorious. For, what we love and want, we love the more and desire the more earnestly. When Hezekiah, having been "sick unto death," had a longer lease of life granted him, he asketh the question, "What is the sign" (not, that I shall live, but) "that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?" Isaiah 38:1 - 22. Love is on the wing, cheerful to meet its object; yea, it reacheth it at a distance, and is united to it while it is afar off...."We will go." We long to be there. We will hasten our pace. We will break through all difficulties in the way. - Condensed from Anthony Farindon.
Psalm 132:7 (first clause)
"Tabernacles" are spoken of in the plural number, and this it may be (though we may doubt whether the Psalmist had such minute distinctions in his eye) because there was in the Temple an inner sanctuary, a middle apartment, and then the court. It is of more importance to attend to the epithet which follows, where the Psalmist calls the Ark of the Covenant God's footstool, to intimate that the sanctuary could never contain the immensity of God's essence, as men were apt absurdly to imagine. The mere outward Temple with all its majesty being no more than his footstool, his people were called upon to look upwards to the heavens, and fix their contemplations with due reverence upon God himself. - John Calvin.
The Lord's "footstool" here mentioned was either the Ark of the Testimony itself, or the place at least where it stood, called Debir, or the Holy of Holies, towards which the Jews in their temple used to worship. The very next words argue so much: "Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength"; and it is plain out of 1 Chronicles 28:2, where David saith concerning his purpose to have built God an house, "I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God," where the conjunction and is exegetical, and the same with that is. According to this expression the prophet Jeremy also, in the beginning of the second of his Lamentations, bewaileth that "the Lord had cast down the beauty of Israel" (that is, his glorious Temple), "and remembered not his footstool" (that is, the Ark of the Covenant), "in the day of his wrath"; as Isaiah 40:7, and Isaiah 44:11; Psalm 96:6.
That this is the true and genuine meaning of this phrase of worshipping the Lord towards his footstool, besides the confessed custom of the time, is evidently confirmed by a parallel expression of this worshipping posture (Psalm 28:2): "Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry unto thee, when I lift up mine hands. אל־דּביר קדשך towards thy holy oracle"; that is, towards the Most Holy place where the ark stood, and from whence God gave his answers. For that דביר Debir, which is here translated "oracle," was the Sanctum Sanctorum or Most Holy place, is clear out of the sixth and eighth chapters of the First Book of Kings; where in the former we read (1 Kings 6:19) that "Solomon prepared the oracle or Debir, to set the ark of the covenant of the Lord there": in the latter (1 Kings 8:6), that "the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims." Wherefore the authors of the translation used in our Liturgy rendered this passage of the Psalm, "When I hold up my hands toward the mercy seat of thy holy temple"; namely, having respect to the meaning thereof. Thus you see that one of the two must needs be this scabellum pedum, or "footstool" of God, either the ark or mercy-seat itself, or the adytum Templi, the Most Holy place, where it stood. For that it is not the whole Temple at large (though it might be so called), but some thing or part of those that are within it, the first words of my text ("We will go into his tabernacles") do argue. If, then, it be the ark (whose cover was that which we call the mercy-seat), it seems to have been so called in respect of God's sitting upon the cherubims, under which the ark lay, as it were his footstool: whence sometimes it is described, "The ark of the covenant of the Lord of Hosts, which sitteth upon the cherubims" : 1 Samuel 4:4. If the ark, with the cover thereof (the mercy-seat), be considered as God's throne, then the place thereof, the Debir, may not unfitly be termed his "foot-stool." Or, lastly, if we consider heaven to be the throne of God, as indeed it is, then whatsoever place or monument of presence he hath here on earth is in true esteem no more than his "footstool." - Joseph Mede, 1586 - 1638.
"Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength?" Whenever the camp was about to move, Moses used the language found in the first part of this verse. "Arise (or rise up), O Jehovah." - William Swan Plumer.
"Thou, and the ark of thy strength." "Both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one" Hebrews 2:11. Now Christ, our Great High Priest, is gone up into the holy resting-place. Of him it is said, "Arise" : for he arose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. And to his "ark," the church, it is said, "Arise": because he lives, all in him shall live also. - Edward Simms, in "A Spiritual Commentary on the Book of Psalms," 1882.
"The ark of thy strength." The historical records of the ark are numerous, and deeply interesting. Miracles were often wrought at its presence. At the passage of the Jordan, no sooner were the feet of the priests which bare this holy vessel dipped in the brim of the river, than the waters rose up upon an heap, and the people of God passed over on dry ground - "clean over Jordan" : Joshua 3:14-17. At the siege of Jericho, the ark occupied a most prominent position in the daily procession of the tribes around the doomed city.... It was, however, captured by the Philistines, and Hophni and Phineas, Eli's wicked sons, in whose care it was placed, slain. Thus the Lord "delivered his strength into captivity and his glory into the enemy's hand": Psalm 78:61. - Frank H. White, in "Christ in the Tabernacle," 1877.
Psalm 132:9 (first clause)
The chief badge and cognizance of the Lord's minister is the true doctrine of justification and obedience of faith in a holy conversation: "Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness." - David Dickson.
"Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness."
Holiness on the head,
Light and perfections on the breast,
Harmonious bells below, raising the dead
To lead them unto life and rest.
Thus are true Aarons drest, etc.
George Herbert, 1593-1633.
"Saints." If the very names given by God's prophets to his people are such as saints, gracious ones, merciful ones, surely his professed people ought to see to it that they are not cruel, untender, or unholy. - William Swan Plumer.
Psalm 132:9, Psalm 132:16
Let us notice the prayer, Psalm 132:9, with the answer, Psalm 132:16. The prayer asks in behalf of the priests "righteousness": the answer is, "I will clothe her priests with salvation," i.e., with what shows forth God's gracious character. Caring for the interest of God, the worshipper finds his own interest fully cared for. And now, after spreading the Lord's pledged word (Psalm 132:11, Psalm 132:12) before him, the worshipper hears the Lord himself utter the reply, q.d., "I will do all that has been sought." - A. A. Bonar.
"For thy servant David's sake." Solomon's plea for the divine blessing to rest upon him as king, "For thy servant David's sake," was justified in its use by God: Is. Psa 37:35. It gives no countenance to the idea of intercession on the part of deceased saints; for it is not a prayer to David, but a pleading with God for the sake of David. Nor does it support the idea of works of supererogation on the part of David; it only implies a special divine delight in David, on account of which God was pleased to honour David's name during succeeding generations; and if the delight itself is pure grace, the expression of it, in any way, must be grace. Nor does it even give countenance to the idea that God's converting and saving grace may be expected by any man because his parents or ancestors were delighted in by God; for a plea of this character is in Scripture strictly confined to two instances, Abraham and David, with both of whom a special covenant was made, including their descendants, and it was just this covenant that authorised the use of the plea by those who by promise were specially interested, and by none others, and for the ends contemplated by the covenant. But it did prefigure the great Christian plea, "For Christ Jesus' sake"; just as God's selection of individual men and making them centres of revelation and religion, in the old time, prefigured "The man Christ Jesus" as the centre and basis of religion for all time. Hence in the plea, "For Christ's sake," the old pleas referred to are abolished, as the Jewish ritual is abolished. Christ bids us use His name: John 14:13, John 14:14; John 16:26, etc. To believe the false notions mentioned above, or to trust in any other name for divine, gracious favour, is to dishonour the name of Christ. "For Christ's sake" is effective on account of the great covenant, the merits of Christ, and his session in heaven. - John Field, 1883.
"For thy servant David's sake." The frequency with which God is urged to hear and answer prayer for David's sake (1 Kings 11:12, 1 Kings 11:13; 1 Kings 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19, etc.), is not to be explained by making David mean the promise to David, nor from the personal favour of which he was the object, but for his historical position as the great theocratical model, in whom it pleased God that the old economy should reach its culminating point, and who is always held up as the type and representative of the Messiah, so that all the intervening kings are mere connecting links, and their reigns mere repetitions and continuations of the reign of David, with more or less resemblance as they happened to be good or bad. Hence the frequency with which his name appears in the later Scriptures, compared with even the last of his successors, and the otherwise inexplicable transfer of that name to the Messiah himself. - Joseph Addison Alexander.
"For thy servant David's sake." When Sennacherib's army lay around Jerusalem besieging it, God wrought deliverance for Israel partly out of regard to the prayer of the devout Hezekiah, but partly also out of respect for the pious memory of David, the hero-king, the man after God's own heart. The message sent through Isaiah to the king concluded thus: "Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, he shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, not come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord. For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake and for my servant David's sake": 2 Kings 19:32-34. What a respect is shown to David's name by its being thus put on a level with God! Mine own sake, and David's sake. - Alexander Balmain Bruce, in "The Galilean Gospel," 1882.
"Turn not away the face," etc. As if in displeasure, or in forget fulness. - Albert Barnes.
"Thine anointed." What is meant by "thine anointed"? Is it David himself; or some definite king among his merely human descendants; or does it apply to each or any of them as they come into office to bear the responsibilities of this line of anointed kings? I incline to the latter construction, under which the petition is applicable to any one or to all the anointed successors of David. For David's sake let every one of them be admitted to free audience before thee, and his prayer be evermore availing. The context contemplates a long line of kings descended from David. It was pertinent to make them all the subjects of this prayer. - Henry Cowles.
"The Lord hath sworn." The most potent weapon with God is his own word. They remind him, therefore, as did Ethan in Psalm 89:20, etc., of the solemn words which he had spoken by Nathan, and which must at that time have been still fresh in the memory of all. Solomon, too, made mention of those glorious words of comfort in his prayer at the dedication of the temple. - Augustus F. Tholuck.
Psalm 132:11, Psalm 132:12
This Psalm is one of those fifteen which are called Psalms of Degrees; of which title whatsoever reason can be given fitting the rest, surely if we consider the argument of this, it may well import the excellency thereof, and why? It is nothing else but a sacred emulation, wherein God and a king contend; the king in piety, God in bounty. The king declares himself to be a most eminent pattern of zeal, and God himself to be a most magnificent rewarder of his servants. The king debarreth himself of all worldly content, while he is busily providing to entertain God; and God, who filleth heaven and earth, vouch safeth to lodge in that place which was provided by the king. The king presents his supplication not only for himself, but also for his charge, the priests, the people; and God restraineth not his blessing to the king, but also at his suit enlargeth it to church and commonweal. Finally, the king bindeth himself to make good his duty with a votive oath, and God restipulateth with an oath that which he promised both to king and kingdom, to the kingdom in the words that follow; but to the king in those that I have now read to you.
This speech, then, is directed unto the king, unto David; but it containeth a blessing which redounds unto his issue, "the fruit of his body." This blessing is no less than a royal succession in the throne of David, David's sons shall inherit it, but it is God that states them in it. They shall sit, but I will set them, yea, so set them that they shall never fall; they shall sit for ever; the succession shah be perpetual. And hitherto the promise runs absolute, it is qualified in that which followeth.
The king was busy to build God's house; and see how God answers him, promising the building of the king's house! God requites a building with a building. There is a very apt allusion in the word, upon which the son of Syrach also plays, when he saith, that children and the building of a city make a perpetual name; how much more if they be a royal offspring, that are destined to sit upon a throne? And God promiseth David sons for this honourable end - "to sit upon his throne." - Arthur Lake, - 1626.
"If, thy children will keep my covenant," etc. Lest David's sons, if they be left without law, should live without care, they must know that the succession shall be perpetual; but the promise is conditional; if David's sons conform themselves to God, "if thou keep my covenant," whereof they cannot pretend ignorance. And they have an authentical record, the record, "my testimonies"; authentical, "I myself will teach them." You see the king's blessing, it is very great; but lest the promise thereof be thought too good to be true, God secures the king with a most unchangeable warrant. The warrant is his oath, "The Lord sware"; and this warrant is,
I. Unchangeable, because sincere; he swore in truth.
II. Stable, he will not turn from it.
And what could king David desire more for his own house than a promise of such a blessing, and such a warrant of that promise? Yes, he might, and no doubt he did desire [more]; and God also intended to him more than the letter of this promise doth express, even the accomplishment of the truth whereof this was but a type. And what is that? The establishment of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. - Arthur Lake.
"That I shall teach them." Here is to be noted that he addeth, "which I will teach them"; for he will be the teacher and will be heard. He wills not that church councils should be heard, or such as teach that which he hath not taught.... God giveth no authority unto man above the word. So should he set man, that is to say, dust and dung, above himself; for what is the word, but God himself? This word they that honour, obey, and keep, are the true church indeed, be they never so contemptible in the world: but they which do not, are the church of Satan, and accursed of God. And this is the cause why it is expressly set down in the text, "The testimonies which I will teach them." For so will God use the ministry of teachers and pastors in the church, that he notwithstanding will be their chief Pastor, and all other ministers and pastors whatsoever, yea, the church itself, shall be ruled and governed by the word. - Martin Luther.
"Their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore." As if he had said, this promise as touching Christ will I accomplish, and will undoubtedly establish the throne unto my servant David; but do not ye, which in the meantime sit on this throne, and govern this kingdom, presume upon the promise, and think that you cannot err, or that I will wink at your errors, and not rather condemn and severely punish them. Therefore either govern your kingdom according to my word, or else I will root you out and destroy you for ever. This promise he now amplifieth, and setteth forth more at large. - Martin Luther.
"For the Lord hath chosen Zion," etc. The Lord's pitching upon any place to dwell there cometh not of the worthiness of the place, or persons, but from God's good pleasure alone. The Lord having chosen his church, resteth in his love to her, he smelleth a sweet savour of Christ, and this maketh his seat among his people steadfast. - David Dickson.
"For the Lord hath chosen Zion." Here, of a singular purpose, he useth the same word which Moses used (Deuteronomy 16:6): "As the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in." For at the beginning there was no certain place appointed wherein the tabernacle should remain; but it wandered, not only from place to place, but also from tribe to tribe, as Ephraim, Manasseh, Dan, etc.
Moreover, by the word, "hath chosen," he overthroweth all kinds of worship and religion of men's own devising and choosing, whereof there was an infinite number among the Jews. Election or choice belongeth not unto us; but we must yield obedience to the voice of the Lord. Else shall that happen unto us which Jeremiah threatheneth. "That they have chosen will I reject." These things destroy and confound the inventions, the devices and devotions, the false and counterfeit religions, which we have seen in the papacy God is not served but when that is done which he hath commanded. Wherefore election or choice pertaineth not to us, so that what God hath commanded, that we must do. - Martin Luther.
"This is my rest for ever." Of the Christian church we may affirm with undoubted certainty, that it is God's rest for ever after this dispensation of his will, there will never succeed another; Christianity closes and completes the Divine communication from God to man; nothing greater, nothing better can or will be imparted to him on this side eternity; and even in heaven itself we shall, through an everlasting duration, be employed in contemplating and adoring the riches of that grace, the brightest glories of which have been realized in the consummations of Calvary, the ascension of the Messiah, the breaking down of all national peculiarity, and the gift and mission of the Divine Spirit. Let the argument of the apostle to the Hebrews be fully weighed, and the conclusion of every mind must be, that God has "removed those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain'" Hebrews 12:27. - John Morison, in "An Exposition of the Book of Psalms," 1829.
"This is my rest for ever." The heart of the saints is the dwelling-place of God. He rests in those who rest in him. He rests when he causes us to rest. - Pasquier Quesnel.
"Dwell." The word translated "dwell" means originally to sit and especially to sit enthroned, so that this idea would be necessarily suggested with the other to a Hebrew reader. - Joseph Addison Alexander.
Now that he might apparently see how near the Lord is to all them that call upon him in faithfulness and truth, he waiteth not long for an answer, but carries it away with him before he departs. For to David's petition, "Return, O Lord, unto thy resting-place, thou, and the ark of thy strength"; God's answer is this, - "This shall be my resting-place, here will I dwell, for I have a delight therein. I will bless her victuals with increase, and will satisfy her poor with bread." To David's petition, "Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness, and let thy saints sing with joyfulness," God's answer is this, "I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints shall rejoice and sing." Lastly, to David's petition, "For thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed," God's answer is this: "There will I make the horn of David to flourish: I have ordained a light for mine anointed. As for his enemies, I will clothe them with shame; but upon himself shall his crown flourish." As if he should have said, - Turn away the face of mine anointed? Nay, that will I never do; I will indeed turn away the face of the enemies of mine anointed; their face shall be covered with confusion, and clothed with shame. But contrariwise, I have ordained a light for mine anointed. He shall even have a light in his face and a crown upon his head. "As for his enemies, I will clothe them with shame; but upon himself shall his crown flourish." - Thomas Playfere, 1633.
"I will abundantly bless her provision," etc. The provision of Zion, the church of God, the word and ordinances, of which Christ is the sum and substance; the gospel is milk for babes, and meat for strong men; the ordinances are a feast of fat things; Christ's flesh is meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed; the whole provision is spiritual, savoury, salutary, strengthening, satisfying, and nourishing, when the Lord blesses it; as he does to those who hunger and thirst after it, and feed upon it by faith; so that their souls grow thereby, and they become fat and flourishing; grace increases in them, and they are fruitful in every good work; and this the Lord promises to do abundantly, in a very large way and manner; or certainly, for it is, in the original text, "in blessing I will bless," that is, will surely bless, as this phrase is sometimes rendered.
"I will satisfy her poor with bread." Zion has her poor; persons may be poor and yet belong to Zion, belong to Zion and yet be poor; there are poor in all the churches of Christ; our Lord told his disciples that they had the poor, and might expect to have them, always with them; and particular directions are given to take care of Zion's poor under the gospel dispensation, that they may not want bread in a literal sense: though by the poor are chiefly designed the Lord's afflicted and distressed ones; or those who in a spiritual sense are poor, sensible of their spiritual poverty, and seeking after the true riches; or are poor in spirit, to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs; these the Lord promises to satisfy, to fill them to the full with the bread of the gospel, made of the finest of the wheat, of which there is enough and to spare in his house; and with Christ the bread of life, of which those that eat shall never die, but live for ever. - John Gill.
"Her provision I will bless, I will bless." The repetition of the verb may express either certainty or fulness. I will surely bless, or I will bless abundantly. - Joseph Addison Alexander.
"I will abundantly bless her provision." Believe it, a saint hath rare fare, gallant cheer, and rich diet, and all at free cost. He is feasted all the day long; he is brought oft into the banqueting-house, and hath the rarest, the costliest, the wholesomest diet, that which is most hearty and strengthening, that which is most dainty and pleasant, and the greatest variety, and nothing is wanting, that may make his state happy, except a full enjoyment of glory itself. The Lord gives him all the experiences of his power and goodness to his Church in former ages to feed his hopes upon; nay, many choice providences, many answers of prayer, many foretastes of glory, many ordinances, especially that great one of the Lord's Supper, at which Christ and all his benefits are served up in a royal dish to refresh and feast the faith, hope, and love of the saints. And that which sweetens all this - he knows that all this is but a little to what he shall shortly live upon when he comes to the marriage-supper; then he shall always be feasted and never surfeited. And beside all this, he hath the sweet and refreshing incomes of the Spirit, filling him with such true pleasure, that he can easily spare the most sumptuous banquet, the noblest feast and highest worldly delights as infinitely short of one hour's treatment in his Friend's chamber. And, if this be his entertainment in the inn, what shall he have at the court? If this heavenly manna be his food in the wilderness, at what rate is he like to live when he comes into Canaan? If this be the provision of the way, what is that of the country? - John Janeway, about 1670.
"I will satisfy her poor with bread." Christ is a satisfying good. A wooden loaf, a silver loaf, a golden loaf will not satisfy a hungry man; the man must have bread. The dainties and dignities of the world, the grandeur and glory of the world, the plenty and prosperity of the world, the puff and popularity of the world, will not satisfy a soul sailing by the gates of hell, and crying out of the depths; it must be a Christ. "Children, or I die," was the cry of the woman; a Christ, or I die - a Christ, or I am damned, is the doleful ditty and doleful dialect of a despairing or desponding soul. "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied therewith; nor he that loveth abundance with increase:" Ecclesiastes 5:10. It is a good observation that the world is round, but the heart of man is triangular. Now, all the globe of the world will not fill the triangular heart of man. What of the world and in the world can give quietness, when Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, goes down upon the soul? The heart is a three-square, and nothing but a trinity in unity and a unity in trinity will satisfy this. Not riches, nor relations, nor barns, nor bags, will satisfy a convinced and deserted soul. This person can say concerning his bags as a great person upon a sick, if not a dying, bed, did concerning his bags, - Away, and away for ever. Though there be bag upon bag, yet they are altogether insignificant in a dying hour; these bags, they are but as so many ciphers before a figure. This is the cry of despairing and desponding souls: "O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days:" Psalm 90:14. - Richard Mayhew, 1679.
"I will satisfy her poor with bread." Dainties I will not promise them; a sufficiency, but not a superfluity: poor they may be, but not destitute; bread they shall have, and of that God's plenty, as they say; enough to bring them to their Father's house, "where there is bread enough." Let not, therefore, the poor Israelite fear to bring his offerings, or to disfurnish himself for God's worship, etc. - John Trapp.
"I will clothe her priests with salvation." Their salvation shall be evident and conspicuous, just as a garment is. - Aben-Ezra.
God's presence is an earnest of all good; for all this follows upon "here will I dwell." By it he giveth meat to the hungry, and comfort to the poor, even the Bread of Life to the believing and repenting soul; by it he himself is the sanctification of his priests, and his righteousness and salvation is their most glorious vesture; and by his presence he maketh his elect ever glad, filling their hearts with joy and their mouths with songs. - J. W. Burgon.
"Her saints shall shout aloud for joy." It would astonish and amuse a European stranger to hear these natives sing. They have not the least idea either of harmony or melody; noise is what they best understand, and he that sings the loudest is considered to sing the best. I have occasionally remonstrated with them on the subject; but the reply I once received silenced me for ever after. "Sing softly, brother," I said to one of the principal members. "Sing softly!" he replied, "is it you, our father, who tells us to sing softly? Did you ever hear us sing the praises of our Hindoo gods? how we threw our heads backward, and with all our might shouted out the praises of those who are no gods! And now do you tell us to whisper the praises of Jesus? No, sir, we cannot - we must express in loud tones our gratitude to him who loved us, and died for us!" And so they continued to sing with all their might, and without further remonstrance. - G. Gogerly, in "The Pioneers: a Narrative of the Bengal Mission," 1870.
"There will I make the horn of David to bud," etc. A metaphor taken from those goodly creatures, as stags, and such like; whose chiefest beauty and strength consisteth in their horns, especially when they bud and branch abroad. - Thomas Playfere.
"The horn of David." This image of a horn is frequent in the Old Testament ... The explanation must be found neither in the horns of the altar on which criminals sought to lay hold, nor in the horns with which they ornamented their helmets; the figure is taken from the horns of the bull, in which the power of this animal resides. It is a natural image among an agricultural people ... Just as the strength of the animal is concentrated in its horn, so all the delivering power granted to the family of David for the advantage of the people will be concentrated in the Messiah. - F. Gorier, in "A Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke," 1875.
"Make the horn to bud." In the beginning of the month of March the common stag, or red deer, is lurking in the sequestered spots of his forest home, harmless as his mate, and as timorous. Soon a pair of prominences make their appearance on his forehead, covered with a velvety skin. In a few days these little prominences have attained some length, and give the first indication of their true form. Grasp one of these in the hand and it will be found burning hot to the touch, for the blood runs fiercely through the velvety skin, depositing at every touch a minute portion of bony matter. More and more rapidly grow the horns, the carotid arteries enlarging in order to supply a sufficiency of nourishment, and in the short period of ten weeks the enormous mass of bony matter has been completed. Such a process is almost, if not entirely, without parallel in the history of the animal kingdom. - J. G. Wood, in "The Illustrated Natural History," 1861.
"The horn." My friend, Mr. Graham, of Damascus, says, concerning the horns worn by eastern women, "This head-dress is of dough, tin, silver, or gold, according to the wealth of the different classes. The rank is also indicated by the length of it. The nobler the lady, the longer the horn. Some of them are more than an English yard." I procured at Damascus an ancient gem, representing a man wearing the horn. In the present day, its use is confined to the women. - John Wilson, in "The Lands of the Bible," 1847.
"I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed." This clause contains an allusion to the law, which cannot be preserved in any version. The word translated "lamp" is used to designate the several burners of the golden candlesticks (Exodus 25:37; Exodus 35:14; Exodus 37:23; Exodus 39:37), and the verb here joined with it is the one applied to the ordering or tending of the sacred lights by the priests (Exodus 27:21; Leviticus 27:3). The meaning of the whole verse is, that the promise of old made to David and to Zion should be yet fulfilled, however dark and inauspicious present appearances. - Joseph Addison Alexander.
"I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed." We here remark,
I. The designation given unto Christ by God his Father; he is "mine anointed." Though he be despised and rejected of men; though an unbelieving world see no form or comeliness in him, why he should be desired, yet I own him, and challenge him as mine Anointed, the Prophet, Priest, and King of my church. "I have found David my servant - with my holy oil have I anointed him, with whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him": Psalm 89:20, Psalm 89:21.
II. The great means of God's appointment for manifesting the glory of Christ to a lost world; he has provided "a lamp" for his Anointed. The use of a lamp is to give light to people in the darkness of the night; so the word of God, particularly the gospel, is a light shining in a dark place, until the day of glory dawn, when the Lord God and the Lamb will be the light of the ransomed for endless evermore.
III. The authority by which this lamp is lighted and carried through this dark world; it is "ordained" of God; and by his commandment it is that we preach and spread the light of the gospel (Mark 16:15, Mark 16:20). - Ebenezer Erskine, 1680 - .
"I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed." That is, I have ordained prosperity and blessings for him; blessings upon his person, and especially the blessing of posterity. Children are as a lamp or candle in their father's house, making the name of their ancestors conspicuous; hence in Scripture a child given to succeed his father is called a lamp. When God by Ahijah the prophet told Jeroboam that God would take the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon's son, and give it unto him, even ten tribes; he yet adds (1 Kings 11:36), "And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light (lamp or candle) alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there." And again (1 Kings 15:4), when Abijam the son of Rehoboam proved wicked, the text saith, "Nevertheless for David's sake did the Lord his God give him a lamp (or candle) in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him." - Joseph Caryl.
Psalm 132:17, Psalm 132:18
God having chosen David's family, he here promiseth to bless that also with suitable blessings.
I. Growing power: "There (in Zion) will I make the horn of David to bud." The royal dignity should increase more and more, and constant additions be made to the lustre of it. Christ is the "horn of salvation," noting a plentiful and powerful salvation, which God hath raised up and made to bud "in the house of his servant David." David had promised to use his power for God's glory, to cut off the horns of the wicked, and to exalt the horns of the righteous (Psalm 75:10); and in recompense for it, God here promises to make his horn to bud; for to them that have power and use it well, more shall be given.
II. Lasting honour: "I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed." Thou wilt "light my candle" (Psalm 18:28): that lamp is likely to burn brightly which God ordains. A lamp is a successor; for when a lamp is almost out, another may be lighted by it: it is a succession; for by this means David shall not want a man to stand before God. Christ is the lamp and the light of the world.
III. Complete victory. "His enemies," that have formed designs against him, "will I clothe with shame," when they shall see their designs baffled. Let the enemies of all good governors expect to be clothed with shame, and especially the enemies of the Lord Jesus and his government, who shall rise in the last great day "to everlasting shame and contempt."
IV. Universal prosperity, "Upon himself shall his crown flourish," i.e., his government shall be more and more his honour. This was to have its full accomplishment in Christ Jesus, whose crown of honour and power shall never fade, nor the flowers of it wither. The crowns of earthly princes "endure not to all generations" (Proverbs 27:24); but Christ's crown shall endure to all eternity, and the crowns reserved for his faithful subjects are such as "fade not away." - Matthew Henry.
"His enemies will I clothe with shame." That is, shame shall so inseparably cover them, that as wheresoever a man goeth, he carrieth his clothes with him; so wheresoever they go they shall carry their shame with them. And that which is strangest of all, they which are ashamed use to clothe or cover their shame, and then think themselves well enough; but David's enemies shall be so ashamed, that even the very covering of their shame shall be a discovering of it; and the clothing or cloaking of their ignominy shall be nothing else but a girding of it more closely and more inseparably unto them. - Thomas Playfere.
"Upon himself shall the crown flourish." This idea seems to be taken from the nature of the ancient crowns bestowed upon conquerors. From the earliest periods of history, the laurel, olive, ivy, etc., furnished crowns to adorn the heads of heroes, who had conquered in the field of battle, gained the prize in the race or performed some other important service to the public. These were the dear bought rewards of the most heroic exploits of antiquity. This sets the propriety of the phrase in full view. The idea of a crown of gold and jewels flourishing, is at least unnatural; whereas, flourishing is natural to laurels, oaks, etc. These were put upon the heads of the victors in full verdure, and their merit seemed to make them flourish on their heads, in freshet green. The literal crown which Jesus wore was also of the vegetable kind, and the thorn of sorrow never flourished in such vigour as on his head. Now he has got the crown of life, which shall not fade away, like the perishing verdure of the crowns of other heroes. It shall flourish for ever, with all the vigour of immortality, and bring forth all the olive-fruits of peace for his people. Its branches shall spread, and furnish crowns for all the victors in the spiritual warfare. - Alexander Pirie, - 1804.
1A Song of degrees. LORD, remember David, and all his afflictions:
2How he sware unto the LORD, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob;
3Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed;
4I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids,
5Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.
6Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.
7We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool.
"Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions." With David the covenant was made, and therefore his name is pleaded on behalf of his descendants, and the people who would be blessed by his dynasty. Jehovah, who changes not, will never forget one of his servants, or fail to keep his covenant; yet for this thing he is to be entreated. That which we are assured the Lord will do must, nevertheless, be made a matter of prayer. The request is that the Lord would remember, and this is a word full of meaning. We know that the Lord remembered Noah, and assuaged the flood; he remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of Sodom; he remembered Rachel, and Hannah, and gave them children; he remembered his mercy to the house of Israel, and delivered his people. That is a choice song wherein we sing, "He remembered us in our low estate - for his mercy endureth for ever"; and that is a notable prayer, "Lord, remember me." The plea is urged with God that he would bless the family of David for the sake of their progenitor; how much stronger is our master-argument in prayer that God would deal well with us for Jesus' sake! David had no personal merit; the plea is based upon the covenant graciously made with him: but Jesus has deserts which are his own, and of boundless merit - these we may urge without hesitation. When the Lord was angry with the reigning prince, the people cried, "Lord, remember David"; and when they needed any special blessing, again they sang, "Lord, remember David." This was good pleading, but it was not so good as ours, which runs on this wise, "Lord, remember Jesus, and all his afflictions."
The afflictions of David here meant were those which came upon him as a godly man in his endeavours to maintain the worship of Jehovah, and to provide for its decent and suitable celebration. There was always an ungodly party in the nation, and these persons were never slow to slander, hinder, and molest the servant of the Lord. Whatever were David's faults, he kept true to the one, only, living, and true God; and for this he was a speckled bird among monarchs. Since he zealously delighted in the worship of Jehovah, his God, he was despised and ridiculed by those who could not understand his enthusiasm. God will never forget what his people suffer for his sake. No doubt innumerable blessings descend upon families and nations through the godly lives and patient sufferings of the saints. We cannot be saved by the merits of others, but beyond all question we are benefited by their virtues. Paul saith, "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name." Under the New Testament dispensation, as well as under the Old, there is a full reward for the righteous. That reward frequently comes upon their descendants rather than upon themselves: they sow, and their successors reap. We may at this day pray - Lord, remember the martyrs and confessors of our race, who suffered for thy name's sake, and bless our people and nation with gospel grace for our fathers' sakes.
"How he sware unto the Lord, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob." Moved by intense devotion, David expressed his resolve in the form of a solemn vow, which was sealed with an oath. The fewer of such vows the better under a dispensation whose great Representative has said, "swear not at all." Perhaps even in this case it had been wiser to have left the pious resolve in the hands of God in the form of a prayer; for the vow was not actually fulfilled as intended, since the Lord forbade David to build him a temple. We had better not swear to do anything before we know the Lord's mind about it, and then we shall not need to swear. The instance of David's vow shows that vows are allowable, but it does not prove that they are desirable. Probably David went too far in his words, and it is Well that the Lord did not hold him to the letter of his bond, but accepted the will for the deed, and the meaning of his promise instead of the literal sense of it. David imitated Jacob, that great maker of vows at Bethel, and upon him rested the blessing pronounced on Jacob by Isaac, "God Almighty bless thee" (Genesis 28:3), which was remembered by the patriarch on his death-bed, when he spoke of "the mighty God of Jacob." God is mighty to hear us, and to help us in performing our vow. We should be full of awe at the idea of making any promise to the Mighty God: to dare to trifle with him would be grievous indeed. It is observable that affliction led both David and Jacob into covenant dealings with the Lord, many vows are made in anguish of soul. We may also remark that if the votive obligations of David are to be remembered of the Lord, much more are the suretiship engagements of the Lord Jesus before the mind of the great Lord, to whom our soul turns in the hour of our distress.
Note, upon this verse, that Jehovah was the God of Jacob, the same God evermore; that he had this for his attribute, that he is mighty - mighty to succour his Jacobs who put their trust in him, though their afflictions be many. He is, moreover, specially the Mighty One of his people; he is the God of Jacob in a sense in which he is not the God of unbelievers. So here we have three points concerning our God: - name, Jehovah; attribute, mighty; special relationship, "mighty God of Jacob." He it is who is asked to remember David and his trials, and there is a plea for that blessing in each one of the three points.
"Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed." Our translators give the meaning though not the literal form, of David's vow, which ran thus, "If I go" - "If I go up," etc. This was an elliptical form of imprecation, implying more than it expressed, and having therefore about it a mystery which made it all the more solemn. David would not take his ease in his house, nor his rest in his bed, till he had determined upon a place for the worship of Jehovah. The ark had been neglected, the Tabernacle had fallen into disrespect; he would find the ark, and build for it a suitable house; he felt that he could not take pleasure in his own palace till this was done. David meant well, but he spake more than he could carry out. His language was hyperbolical, and the Lord knew what he meant: zeal does not always measure its terms, for it is not thoughtful of the criticisms of men, but is carried away with love to the Lord, who reads the hearts of his people. David would not think himself housed till he had built a house for the Lord, nor would he reckon himself rested till he had said, "Arise, O Lord, into thy rest." Alas, we have many around us who will never carry their care for the Lord's worship too far! No fear of their being indiscreet! They are housed and bedded, and as for the Lord, his people may meet in a barn, or never meet at all, it will be all the same to them. Observe that Jacob in his vow spoke of the stone being God's house, and David's vow also deals with a house for God.
"I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids." He could not enjoy sleep till he had done his best to provide a place for the ark. It is a strong expression, and it is not to be coolly discussed by us. Remember that the man was all on fire, and he was writing poetry also, and therefore his language is not that which we should employ in cold blood. Everybody can see what he means, and how intensely he means it. Oh, that many more were seized with sleeplessness because the house of the Lord lies waste! They can slumber fast enough and not even disturb themselves with a dream, though the cause of God should be brought to the lowest ebb by their covetousness. What is to become of those who have no care about divine things, and never give a thought to the claims of their God?
"Until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob." He resolved to find a place where Jehovah would allow his worship to be celebrated, a house where God would fix the symbol of his presence, and commune with his people. At that time, in all David's land, there was no proper place for that ark whereon the Lord had placed the mercy-seat, where prayer could be offered, and where the manifested glory shone forth. All things had fallen into decay, and the outward forms of public worship were too much disregarded; hence the King resolves to be first and foremost in establishing a better order of things.
Yet one cannot help remembering that the holy resolve of David gave to a place and a house much more importance than the Lord himself ever attached to such matters. This is indicated in Nathan's message from the Lord to the king - "Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle. In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel, spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?" Stephen in his inspired speech puts the matter plainly: "Solomon built him an house. Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands." It is a striking fact that true religion never flourished more in Israel than before the temple was built, and that from the day of the erection of that magnificent house the spirit of godliness declined. Good men may have on their hearts matters which seem to them of chief importance, and it may be acceptable with God that they should seek to carry them out; and yet in his infinite wisdom he may judge it best to prevent their executing their designs. God does not measure his people's actions by their wisdom or want of wisdom, but by the sincere desire for his glory which has led up to them. David's resolution, though he was not allowed to fulfil it, brought a blessing upon him, the Lord promised to build the house of David, because he had desired to build the house of the Lord. Moreover, the King was allowed to prepare the treasure for the erection of the glorious edifice which was built by his son and successor. The Lord shows the acceptance of what we desire to do by permitting us to do something else which his infinite mind judges to be fitter for us, and more honourable to himself.
Meanwhile, where was the habitation of God among men? He was wont to shine forth from between the cherubim, but where was the ark? It was like a hidden thing, a stranger in its own land. "Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah." Rumours came that it was somewhere in the land of Ephraim, in a temporary lodging; rather an object of dread than of delight. Is it not wonderful that so renowned a symbol of the presence of the Lord should be lingering in neglect - a neglect so great that it was remarkable that we should have heard of its whereabouts at all? When a man begins to think upon God and his service it is comforting that the gospel is heard of. Considering the opposition which it has encountered it is marvellous that it should be heard of, and heard of in a place remote from the central city; but yet we are sorrowful that it is only in connection with some poor despised place that we do hear of it. What is Ephratah? Who at this time knows where it was? How could the ark have remained there so long?
David instituted a search for the ark. It had to be hunted for high and low; and at last at Kirjath-jearim, 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 find life in him? That is a blessed Eureka which is embedded in our text - "we found it." The matter began with hearing, led on to a search, and concluded in a joyful find. "We found it in the fields of the wood." Alas that there should be no room for the Lord in the palaces of kings, so that he must needs take to the woods. If Christ be in a wood he will yet be found of those who seek for him. He is as near in the rustic home, embowered among the trees, as in the open streets of the city; yea, he will answer prayer offered from the heart of the black forest where the lone traveller seems out of all hope of hearing. The text presents us with an instance of one whose heart was set upon finding the place where God would meet with him; this made him quick of hearing, and so the cheering news soon reached him. The tidings renewed his ardour, and led him to stick at no difficulties in his search; and so it came to pass that, where he could hardly hake expected it, he lighted upon the treasure which he so much prized.
"We will go into his tabernacles." Having found the place where he dwells we will hasten thereto. He has many dwellings in one in the various courts of his house, and each of these shall receive the reverence due - in each the priest shall offer for us the appointed service; and our hearts shall go where our bodies may not enter. David is not alone, he is represented as having sought for the ark with others, for so the word "we" implies; and now they are glad to attend him in his pilgrimage to the chosen shrine, saying, "We found it, we will go." Because these are the Lord's courts we will resort to them. "We will worship at his foot-stool." The best ordered earthly house can be no more than the footstool of so great a King. His ark can only reveal the glories of his feet, according to his promise that he will make the place of his feet glorious: yet thither will we hasten with joy, in glad companionship, and there will we adore him. Where Jehovah is, there shall he be worshipped. It is well not only to go to the Lord's house, but to worship there: We do but profane his tabernacles if we enter them for any other purpose.
Before leaving this verse let us note the ascent of this Psalm of degrees - "we heard.... we found ... we will go ... we will worship."
8Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.
9Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.
10For thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed.
In these three verses we see the finders of the ark removing it to its appointed place, using a formula somewhat like to that used by Moses when he said, "Rise up, Lord," and again, "Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel." The ark had been long upon the move, and no fit place had been found for it in Canaan, but now devout men have prepared a temple, and they sing, "Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength." They hoped that now the covenant symbol had found a permanent abode - a rest, and they trusted that Jehovah would now abide with it for ever. Vain would it be for the ark to be settled if the Lord did not continue with it, and perpetually shine forth from between the cherubim. Unless the Lord shall rest with us there is no rest for us; unless the ark of his strength abide with us we are ourselves without strength. The ark of the covenant is here mentioned by a name which it well deserved; for in its captivity it smote its captors, and broke their gods, and when it was brought back it guarded its own honour by the death of those who dared to treat it with disrespect. The power of God was thus connected with the sacred chest. Reverently, therefore did Solomon pray concerning it as he besought the living God to consecrate the temple by his presence. It is the Lord and the covenant, or rather say the covenant Jehovah whose presence we desire in our assemblies, and this presence is the strength of his people. Oh that the Lord would indeed abide in all the churches, and cause his power to be revealed in Zion.
"Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness." No garment is so resplendent as that of a holy character. In this glorious robe our great High-priest is evermore arrayed, and he would have all his people adorned in the same manner. Then only are priests fit to appear before the Lord, and to minister for the profit of the people, when their lives are dignified with goodness. They must ever remember that they are God's priests, and should therefore wear the livery of their Lord, which is holiness: they are not only to have righteousness, but to be clothed with it, so that upon every part of them righteousness shall be conspicuous. Whoever looks upon God's servants should see holiness if they see nothing else. Now, this righteousness of the ministers of the temple is prayed for in connection with the presence of the Lord; and this instructs us that holiness is only to be found among those who commune with God, and only comes to them through his visitation of their spirits. God will dwell among a holy people: and on the other hand, where God is the people become holy.
"And let thy saints shout for joy." Holiness and happiness go together; where the one is found, the other ought never to be far away. Holy persons have a right to great and demonstrative joy they may shout because of it. Since they are saints, and thy saints, and thou hast come to dwell with them, O Lord, thou hast made it their duty to rejoice, and to let others know of their joy. The sentence, while it may read as a permit, is also a precept saints are commanded to rejoice in the Lord. Happy religion which makes it a duty to be glad! Where righteousness is the clothing, joy may well be the occupation.
"For thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed." King Solomon was praying, and here the people pray for him that his face may not be turned away, or that he may not be refused an audience. It is a dreadful thing to have our face turned away from God, or to have his face turned away from us. If we are anointed of the Spirit the Lord will look upon us with favour. Specially is this true of Him who represents us, and is on our behalf the Christ - the truly anointed of the Lord. Jesus is both our David and God's anointed; in him is found in fulness that which David received in measure. For his sake all those who are anointed in him are accepted. God blessed Solomon and succeeding kings, for David's sake; and he will bless us for Jesus' sake. How condescending was the Son of the Highest to take upon himself the form of a servant, to be anointed for us, and to go in before the mercy-seat to plead on our behalf! The Psalm sings of the ark, and it may well remind us of the going in of the anointed priest within the veil all depended upon his acceptance, and therefore well do the people pray, "Turn not away the face of thine anointed."
Thus, in Psalm 132:8-10, we have a prayer for the temple, the ark, the priests, the Levites, the people, and the king: in each petition there is a fulness of meaning well worthy of careful thought. We cannot plead too much in detail; the fault of most prayers is their indefiniteness. In God's house and worship everything needs a blessing, and every person connected therewith needs it continually. As David vowed and prayed when he was minded to house the ark, so now the prayer is continued when the temple is consecrated, and the Lord deigns to fill it with his glory. We shall never have done praying till we have done needing.
11The 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.
12If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore.
13For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.
14This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.
15I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
17There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed.
18His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.
Here we come to a grand covenant pleading of the kind which is always prevalent with the Lord. "The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David." We cannot urge anything with God which is equal to his own word and oath. Jehovah swears that our faith may have strong confidence in it: he cannot forswear himself. He swears in truth, for he means every word that he utters; men may be perjured, but none will be so profane as to imagine this of the God of truth. By Nathan this covenant of Jehovah was conveyed to David, and there was no delusion in it. "He will not turn from it." Jehovah is not a changeable being. He never turns from his purpose, much less from his promise solemnly ratified by oath. He turneth never lie is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent. What a rock they stand upon who have an immutable oath of God for their foundation! We know that this covenant was really made with Christ, the spiritual seed of David, for Peter quotes it at Pentecost, saying, "Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ." Christ therefore sits on a sure throne for ever and ever, seeing that he has kept the covenant, and through him the blessing comes upon Zion, whose poor are blessed in him. "Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne." 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. The honour of Jehovah is concerned in his reign, and therefore it is never in danger; for the Lord will not suffer his oath to be dishonoured.
"If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them." There is a condition to the covenant so far as it concerned kings of David's line before the coming of the true Seed; but he has fulfilled that condition, and made the covenant indefeasible henceforth and for ever as to himself and the spiritual seed in him. Considered as it related to temporal things it was no small blessing for David's dynasty to be secured the throne upon good behaviour. These monarchs held their crowns from God upon the terms of loyalty to their superior Sovereign, the Lord who had elevated them to their high position. They were to be faithful to the covenant by obedience to the divine law, and by belief of divine truth. They were to accept Jehovah as their Lord and their Teacher, regarding him in both relations as in covenant with him. What a condescension on God's part to be their teacher! How gladly ought they to render intelligent obedience! What a proper, righteous, and needful stipulation for God to make that they should be true to him when the reward was the promise, "Their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore." If they will sit at his feet God will make them sit on a throne; if they will keep the covenant they shall keep the crown from generation to generation.
The kingdom of Judah might have stood to this day had its kings been faithful to the Lord. No internal revolt or external attack could have overthrown the royal house of David: it fell by its own sin, and by nothing else. The Lord was continually provoked, but he was amazingly long-suffering, for long after seceding Israel had gone into captivity, Judah still remained. Miracles of mercy were shown to her. Divine patience exceeded all limits, for the Lord's regard for David was exceeding great. The princes of David's house seemed set on ruining themselves, and nothing could save them; justice waited long, but it was bound at last to unsheathe the sword and strike. Still, if in the letter man's breach of promise caused the covenant to fail, yet in spirit and essence the Lord has been true to it, for Jesus reigns, and holds the throne for ever. David's seed is still royal, for he was the progenitor according to the flesh of him who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
This verse shows us the need of family piety. Parents must see to it that their children know the fear of the Lord, and they must beg the Lord himself to teach them his truth. We have no hereditary right to the divine favour: the Lord keeps up his friendship to families from generation to generation, for he is loth to leave the descendants of his servants, and never does so except under grievous and long-continued provocation. As believers we are all in a measure under some such covenant as that of David, certain of us can look backward for four generations of saintly ancestors, and we are now glad to look forward to see our children, and our children's children, walking in the truth. Yet we know that grace does not run in the blood, and we are filled with holy fear lest in any of our seed there should be an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.
"For the Lord hath chosen Zion." It was no more than any other Canaanite town till God chose it, David captured it, Solomon built it, and the Lord dwelt in it. So was the church a mere Jebusite stronghold till grace chose it, conquered it, rebuilt it, and dwelt in it. Jehovah has chosen his people, and hence they are his people. He has chosen the church, and hence it is what it is. Thus in the covenant David and Zion, Christ and his people, go together. David is for Zion, and Zion for David: the interests of Christ and his people are mutual. "He hath desired it for his habitation." David's question is answered. The Lord has spoken: the site of the temple is fixed: the place of the divine manifestation is determined. Indwelling follows upon election, and arises out of it, Zion is chosen, chosen for a habitation of God. The desire of God to dwell among the people whom he has chosen for himself is very gracious and yet very natural: his love will not rest apart from those upon whom he has placed it. God desires to abide with those whom he has loved with an everlasting love; and we do not wonder that it should be so, for we also desire the company of our beloved ones. It is a double marvel, that the Lord should choose and desire such poor creatures as we are: the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in believers is a wonder of grace parallel to the incarnation of the Son of God. God in the church is the wonder of heaven, the miracle of eternity, the glory of infinite love.
"This is my rest for ever." Oh, glorious words! It is God himself who here speaks. Think of rest for God! A Sabbath for the Eternal and a place of abiding for the Infinite. He calls Zion my rest. Here his love remains and displays itself with delight. "He shall rest in his love." And this for ever. He will not seek another place of repose, nor grow weary of his saints. In Christ the heart of Deity is filled with content, and for his sake he is satisfied with his people, and will be so world without end. These august words declare a distinctive choice - this and no other; a certain choice - this which is well known to me; a present choice - this which is here at this moment. God has made his election of old, he has not changed it, and he never will repent of it, his church was his rest and is his rest still. As he will not turn from his oath, so he will never turn from his choice. Oh, that we may enter into his rest, may be part and parcel of his church, and yield by our loving faith a delight to the mind of him who taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in them that hope in his mercy. "Here will I dwell; for I have desired it." Again are we filled with wonder that he who fills all things should dwell in Zion - should dwell in his church. God does not unwillingly visit his chosen; he desires to dwell with them; he desires them. He is already in Zion, for he says here, as one upon the spot. Not only will he occasionally come to his church, but he will dwell in it, as his fixed abode. He cared not for the magnificence of Solomon's temple, but he determined that at the mercy-seat he would be found by suppliants, and that thence he would shine forth in brightness of grace among the favoured nation. All this, however, was but a type of the spiritual house, of which Jesus is foundation and cornerstone, upon which all the living stones are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Oh, the sweetness of the thought that God desires to dwell in his people and rest among them! Surely if it be his desire he will cause it to be so. If the desire of the righteous shall be granted much more shall the desire of the righteous God be accomplished. This is the joy of our souls, for surely we shall rest in God, and certainly our desire is to dwell in him. This also is the end of our fears for the church of God; for if the Lord dwell in her, she shall not be moved; if the Lord desire her, the devil cannot destroy her.
"I will abundantly bless her provision." It must be so. How can we be without a blessing when the Lord is among us? We live upon his word, we are clothed by his charity, we are armed by his power: all sorts of provision are in him, and how can they be otherwise than blessed? The provision is to be abundantly blessed; then it will be abundant and blessed. Daily provision, royal provision, satisfying provision, overflowingly joyful provision the church shall receive; and the divine benediction shall cause us to receive it with faith, to feed upon it by experience, to grow upon it by sanctification, to be strengthened by it to labour, cheered by it to patience, and built up by it to perfection. "I will satisfy her poor with bread." The citizens of Zion are poor in themselves, poor in spirit, and often poor in pocket, but their hearts and souls shall dwell in such abundance that they shall neither need more nor desire more. Satisfaction is the crown of experience. Where God rests his people shall be satisfied. They are to be satisfied with what the Lord himself calls "bread," and we may be sure that he knows what is really bread for souls. He will not give us a stone. The Lord's poor shall "have food convenient for them": that which will suit their palate, remove their hunger, fill their desire, build up their frame, and perfect their growth. The bread of earth is "the bread that perisheth," but the bread of God endureth to life eternal. In the church where God rests his people shall not starve; the Lord would never rest if they did. He did not take rest for six days till he had prepared the world for the first man to live in; he would not stay his hand till all things were ready; therefore, we may be sure if the Lord rests it is because "it is finished," and the Lord hath prepared of his goodness for the poor. Where God finds his desire his people shall find theirs; if he is satisfied they shall be.
Taking the two clauses together, we see that nothing but an abundant blessing in the church will satisfy the Lord's poor people they are naked and miserable till that comes. All the provision that Solomon himself could make would not have satisfied the saints of his day: they looked higher, and longed for the Lord's own boundless blessing, and hungered for the bread which came down from heaven. Blessed be the Lord, they had in this verse two of the "I wills" of God to rest upon, and nothing could be a better support to their faith.
More is promised than was prayed for. See how Psalm 132:9 asks for the priests to be clad in righteousness, and the answer is, "I will also clothe her priests with salvation." God is wont to do exceeding abundantly, above all that we ask or even think. Righteousness is but one feature of blessing, salvation is the whole of it. What cloth of gold is this! What more than regal array! Garments of salvation I we know who has woven them, who has dyed them, and who has given them to his people. These are the best robes for priests and preachers, for princes and people; there is none like them; give them me. Not every priest shall be thus clothed, but only her priests, those who truly belong to Zion, by faith which is in Christ Jesus, who hath made them priests unto God. These are clothed by the Lord himself, and none can clothe as he does. If even the grass of the field is so clothed by the Creator as to outvie Solomon in all his glory, how must his own children be clad? Truly he shall be admired in his saints; the liveries of his servants shall be the wonder of heaven. "And her saints shall shout aloud for joy." Again we have a golden answer to a silver prayer. The Psalmist would have the "saints shout for joy." "That they shall do," saith the Lord, "and aloud too"; they shall be exceedingly full of delight; their songs and shouts shall be so hearty that they shall sound as the noise of many waters, and as great thunders. These joyful ones are not, however, the mimic saints of superstition, but her saints, saints of the Most High, "sanctified in Christ Jesus." These shall be so abundantly blessed and so satisfied, and so apparelled that they can do no otherwise than shout to show their astonishment, their triumph, their gratitude, their exultation, their enthusiasm, their joy in the Lord. Zion has no dumb saints. The sight of God at rest among his chosen is enough to make the most silent shout. If the morning stars sang together when the earth and heavens were made, much more will all the sons of God shout for joy when the new heavens and the new earth are finished, and the New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride for her husband. Meanwhile, even now the dwelling of the Lord among us is a perennial fountain of sparkling delight to all holy minds. This shouting for joy is guaranteed to Zion's holy ones: God says they shall shout aloud, and depend upon it they will: who shall stop them of this glorying? The Lord hath said by his Spirit, "let them shout," and then he has promised that "they shall shout aloud": who is he that shall make them hold their peace? The Bridegroom is with them, and shall the children of the bride-chamber fast? Nay, verily, we rejoice, yea and will rejoice.
"There will I make the horn of David to bud." In Zion David's dynasty shall develop power and glory. In our notes from other authors we have included a description of the growth of the horns of stags, which is the natural fact from which we conceive the expression in the text to be borrowed. As the stag is made noble and strong by the development of his horns, so the house of David shall advance from strength to strength. This was to be by the work of the Lord - "there will I make," and therefore it would be sure and solid growth. When God makes us to bud none can cause us to fade. When David's descendants left the Lord and the worship of his house, they declined in all respects, for it was only through the Lord, and in connection with his worship that their horn would bud.
"I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed." David's name was to be illustrious, and brilliant as a lamp; it was to continue shining like a lamp in the sanctuary; it was thus to be a comfort to the people, and an enlightenment to the nations. God would not suffer the light of David to go out by the extinction of his race: his holy ordinances had decreed that the house of his servant should remain in the midst of Israel. What a lamp is our Lord Jesus! A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel. As the anointed - the true Christ, he shall be the light of heaven itself. Oh for grace to receive our illumination and our consolation from Jesus Christ alone.
"His enemies will I clothe with shame." They shall be utterly defeated, they shall loathe their evil design, they shall be despised for having hated the Ever Blessed One. Their shame they will be unable to hide, it shall cover them: God will array them in it for ever, and it shall be their convict dress to all eternity. "But upon himself shall his crown flourish." Green shall be his laurels of victory. He shall win and wear the crown of honour, end his inherited diadem shall increase in splendour. Is it not so to this hour with Jesus? His kingdom cannot fail, his imperial glories cannot fade. It is himself that we delight to honour; it is to himself that the honour comes, and upon himself that it flourishes. If others snatch at his crown their traitorous aims are defeated; but he in his own person reigns with ever growing splendour.
"Crown him, crown him,
Crowns become the victor's brow."