Summary: True prayer is based in the covenant and promises of God, which He has given us in Christ Jesus.
A RESTING PLACE FOR THE ARK OF GOD
King David, ‘the man after God’s own heart’ (Acts 13:22), wanted to bring the ark-of-the-covenant up to Jerusalem. ‘We consulted it not in the days of Saul,’ he reasonably reasoned (1 Chronicles 13:3). However, even our best intentions fall short when they lack due order (1 Corinthians 14:40). King David set about his task in the wrong way, and at the cost of a man’s life (1 Chronicles 13:9-10).
Psalm 132:1-9 begins, “LORD, remember David, and the trouble which he took /his afflictions /the hardships which he endured.” The first few verses of the Psalm join together the two events of (a) David seeking out, finding and fetching the ark (2 Samuel 6), and (b) the king’s resolve to house the ark in something better than a tent (2 Samuel 7:2). The Psalmist alone stresses that David’s desire took the form of a vow (Psalm 132:2-5).
Now the searchers report back, “We heard of it, and now have found it in the fields of the wood around the forest town” (Psalm 132:6). The king’s desire was not wrong: the ark had been on its journey from Mount Sinai to Mount Zion for centuries. Soon pilgrims would be able to look forward with anticipation as they too ascended to Jerusalem, to worship at God’s footstool (Psalm 132:7).
During the wilderness wanderings, each of the forty times that the presence of the LORD set forward (Numbers 33), Moses prayed ‘Rise up LORD’ (Numbers 10:33-36). The liturgy is repeated in David’s days as the first attempt is made to bring the ark forward to its ultimate, and final, resting place. Psalm 132:8-10 is repeated again by Solomon at the dedication of the Temple (2 Chronicles 6:41-42).
Psalm 132:10-16 provides a parallel panel to the preceding verses, and introduces a second person to the narrative. David’s successor could be heard reminding the LORD (again - cf. Psalm 132:1) of His covenant with David. True prayer is based in the covenant and promises of God, which He has given us in Christ Jesus.
It was King Solomon who would eventually build the Temple, and thus David’s resolve became the resolve of the dynasty. “Do not turn away my face (in such a way that I might not see you)”, he pleaded (Psalm 132:10). Neither should any church be content with only ‘a form of godliness, without the power thereof’ (2 Timothy 3:5).
The oath of David (Psalm 132:2-5) found its response in the oath of God in Psalm 132:11-12. This reiterates the promise of God, that whereas David had desired to build God a house, it was God who was going to build David a house: a dynasty and a kingdom which would last for ever (2 Samuel 7:11-16). This reaches beyond its own conditional clause (“If your children…” Psalm 132:12) to a time that is even beyond the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:30-31).
The place names of Psalm 132:6 may appear obscure, but there is no doubt that Zion is named as God’s habitation in Psalm 132:13-14. Now, at last, the LORD has found the resting place anticipated in Psalm 132:8.
Here again (Psalm 132:15) we see Jesus the Bread of life (John 6:35), the One who provides His poor with bread. The request that the LORD would clothe His priests, and that the faithful should have reason to shout for joy (Psalm 132:9), has its answer in Psalm 132:16.
The epilogue (Psalm 132:17-18) looks forward with keen anticipation to what we can recognise as Advent. The “horn that budded” is the Branch spoken of by the prophets. “The lamp” points us to Jesus, ‘the Light of the world’ (John 8:12). The person who believes in Him shall have the light of life!