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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
Psalms 132



Verse 1

This verse expresses the theme of the psalm. It is a cry to God to remember David"s afflictions that he experienced concerning his desire to glorify God by finding a suitable place for the ark of the covenant to dwell.

Verses 1-5

1. The prayer to remember David132:1-5

Verses 1-18

Psalm 132

The writer of this psalm led the Israelites in praying that God would bless Israel for David"s commitment to the Lord.

"Because of its emphasis on the temple and on God"s election of Zion, the psalm is here classified as a Song of Zion. The Songs of Zion have much in common with the royal Psalm , as they celebrate the glories associated with Jerusalem: temple and kingship. Unlike the royal Psalm , the Songs of Zion proclaim the glories of Zion in universal and eschatological terms ..." [Note: VanGemeren, p804.]

Verses 2-5

Specifically, David underwent personal discomfort because he wanted to build a temple for Yahweh ( 2 Samuel 7). This led him to make great personal sacrifices to prepare for its construction, even though the Lord did not permit him to build the building himself. His desire to erect a magnificent temple was a desire to glorify God. In the ancient Near East, people associated the splendor of a temple with the greatness of the deity it honored. Therefore David wanted to build the most glorious temple he could. David"s desire to build God a house resulted in God promising to build David a house or dynasty. The psalmist"s prayer that God would remember David, then, involved His remembering and fulfilling His promises to David.

Verses 6-8

The antecedent of "it" ( Psalm 132:6) is the ark ( Psalm 132:8). Ephrathah (Ephratah) is an old name for the area around Bethlehem ( Genesis 35:16; Genesis 35:19; Genesis 48:7). Jaar evidently refers to Kiriath-jearim, "Jearim" being the plural of "Jaar," the town where the ark rested for20 years after the Philistines returned it ( 1 Samuel 7:1-2). Evidently some Israelites in Bethlehem heard that the ark was in Kiriath-jearim and went there to retrieve it. From there, David then brought the ark into Jerusalem ( 2 Samuel 6). [Note: For a proposal concerning the relationship of Psalm 132to1Samuel4-6,2Samuel6 , see Aage Bentzen, "The Cultic Use of the Story of the Ark in Samuel," Journal of Biblical Literature67 (1948):37-53.]

The Israelite pilgrims who sang this psalm resolved to go to worship God on Mt. Zion, to the place in Jerusalem where the ark rested ( Psalm 132:7), referred to here as God"s "footstool." That was where God dwelt in a localized way among His people. It was His earthly throne. They called on God to meet with them there. They spoke of "the ark of God"s strength" because it represented God"s strength in Israel"s previous battles.

Verses 6-10

2. The prayer to bless David"s descendants132:6-10

Verse 9-10

The Israelites also called on God to establish a righteous group of priests among them. and to enable the godly in Israel to rejoice because of His blessings. They asked God to remember His promises to David, His anointed king. In view of these requests, this psalm may date from the return from exile (cf. Psalm 132:16; Zechariah 3:1-7).

Verse 11-12

God promised David-the oath being a poetic equivalent of a sure promise-that He would raise up a dynasty of David"s descendants that would follow him on Israel"s throne ( 2 Samuel 7:12-16). If they were faithful to the Lord, He would give them an unbroken succession. Of course this did not happen, because David"s descendants did not all follow God faithfully. Nevertheless God preserved David"s dynasty as He said He would.

Verses 11-18

3. The Lord"s promises to David132:11-18

Verses 13-16

God also promised to make Zion His special habitation ( 2 Chronicles 6:6; 2 Chronicles 6:34-39). He said He would bless it by providing food for the poor, salvation for the priests (cf. Psalm 132:9), and joy for the godly.

Verse 17-18

The "horn of David" that God promised would spring forth refers to a ruler that He would raise up from David"s descendants (cf. Daniel 7:24; Luke 1:69). The "lamp" is a figure for a leader (cf. 2 Samuel 21:17; 1 Kings 11:36). It refers to the same person God said He would prepare for His anointed, David. In other words, God promised to raise up one of David"s descendants who would defeat his enemies. This promise found partial fulfillment in some of David"s successors who followed him on the throne of Israel, but Messiah will fulfill it ultimately (cf. Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15; Zechariah 3:18; Zechariah 6:12).

This royal psalm should encourage God"s people to believe that He will fulfill His promises, specifically the promises regarding David"s messianic descendant and capital.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 132:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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