Daily Family Worship

Psalm 132: God Dwelling With Men

by | Jul 3, 2024

psalm 132

The history of the Old Testament does not record the time nor the occasion of David’s vow that is referenced in the opening verses of this Psalm; but the Scriptural narrative does record how the subject of that vow was always in his thoughts and upon his heart. Here in the first verse, David asks God to remember his afflictions; and then he records his vow. Perhaps you may think that the vow was the result of his afflictions, and that he made it contingent upon his deliverance. But it is far more consistent with the character of David to look upon the “affliction” as a result of the Lord’s not permitting him to carry out his purpose of building an earthly habitation for the God of heaven, because he had shed blood abundantly. And if (as is very likely) David’s conscience particularly recalled the blood of Uriah, he could not help being deeply afflicted – even while acknowledging the righteousness of the sentence. And yet with what tenderness did the Lord mingle mercy with judgment! For even in the very message which forbade David to build Him a house, He added this gracious assurance of lovingkindness to his son and his descendants after him: “He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever: I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever, and his throne shall be established for evermore.” But although he was not permitted by God to fulfill his intentions, one cannot help feeling that it was a very noble resolution which David makes here in the first five verses of this Psalm. It expresses his holy determination to forego every occupation and pursuit, and to not allow a single day to elapse until he had at least fixed upon the site of the future Temple.

But will God indeed dwell with man? Will He condescend to come and take up His abode with us? Hear what loving words Jesus Himself says, and what an abundant promise He Himself holds out: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Oh! Then give not sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids, until you have also made a vow unto the Lord – promising that you will give yourself unto Him, and that you will be a living temple for the living God! Make haste and do not delay to keep His commandments; and when you have given yourself over unto the Lord, and are a temple of the Holy Spirit, be careful that nothing unclean nor unholy enters into that temple and defiles it.

It seems that in the sixth verse – “Lo! we heard of it at Ephratah; we found it in the field of the wood” – there is a touching allusion to the long and melancholy absence of the Ark of God, when it abode in Kirjath-jearim. That name means “the city of the woods” – or, as we might say, “the field of the city of the woods.” It remained there for 20 years, and it is said that “all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.” No doubt, in their sadness, the people often talked of the Ark of God and its absence from among them, and how they longed for its return. And David may perhaps be alluding to how he had heard in his own youthful days, under his father’s roof at Bethlehem-Ephratah, how it was still abiding in “the field of the woods.” We know that his first act during his kingly reign was to send to Kirjath-jearim, or the City of the Woods, and remove the Ark from that place.

The remainder of this Psalm is an animated description of the blessedness of that people who have the Lord for their God, and who prize and value His ordinances and service and worship. “The Lord hath chosen Zion,” the Psalmist declares; “he hath desired it for his habitation.” “This is my rest for ever,” says the Lord; “here will I dwell; for I have desired it!” How vast is the love of God to mankind, that He should speak thus concerning His Church! It is His desire to dwell with us, yet how little do we desire to dwell with Him! When His presence is among us, the voice of joy and health is heard in our dwellings; peace is within our walls, and prosperity is within our palaces. God’s people have a special blessing even on the common enjoyments of life, and that blessing puts peculiar sweetness into them. Moreover, He will abundantly bless the nourishment of the new man, and He will satisfy the poor in spirit with the Bread of Life. He gives more than we ask; and when He gives salvation, He will give abundant joy as well. Also, He will bring down every plot or plan that is formed to destroy the house of David – the Kingdom of Messiah. His enemies, who did not desire to have Him reign over them, shall be clothed with shame and confusion on the Great Last Day – forever.

Lord Jesus, we praise You for being the Ark, the habitation, the sanctuary, the refuge, and the resting-place for us poor sinners – which Jehovah has founded, and not man! Thank You for being a sure dwelling-place for all Your redeemed ones. Amen.

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