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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 132

Coffman's Commentaries on the BibleCoffman's Commentaries



Dummelow stated that, “This is the most difficult of the Pilgrim Songs.”(F1) The only reason for this evaluation, however, was, as Dummelow stated it, that, “According to accepted literary criticism, it must be a post-exilic Psalm.”(F2) To us, there is no difficulty at all. It is the radical literary criticism of the mid-20th century which is wrong. It is simply impossible to fit this psalm into a post-exilic occasion.

As Delitzsch observed, “This Psalm belongs to a time in which the Davidic throne was still standing, and when the sacred ark of the covenant was not as yet irrecoverably lost.”(F3) Any person able to read will note that the psalm states these facts. Ballard agreed with this, writing that, “There seems to be no alternative to assigning it to a time when a scion of David was ruling in Jerusalem.”(F4)

Leupold also dated the psalm “near the times of David,” adding that, “We are not impressed with arguments that lead some interpreters to claim for the psalm a post-exilic date.”(F5)

The fact is that, in all probability, this psalm was used at the dedication of Solomon’s temple, as proved by the quotation of some of it in 2 Chronicles 6:41 f. “This shows that the psalm existed early enough in the reign of Solomon to be ready for the dedication of his temple.”(F6)

We shall follow the paragraphing suggested by Leupold: “(1) A Prayer Offered at the Dedication of the Temple (Psalms 132:1-10); and (2) God’s Answer of the Prayer (Psalms 132:11-18).”(F7)

Verses 1-10


“Jehovah, remember for David All his affliction; How he sware unto Jehovah, And vowed unto the Mighty One of Jacob: Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, Nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, Or slumber to mine eyelids; Until I find out a place for Jehovah, A tabernacle for the Mighty One of Jacob. Lo, we heard of it in Ephrathah: We found it in a field of the wood. We will go into his tabernacles; We will worship at his footstool. Arise, O Jehovah, into thy resting-place; Thou and the ark of thy strength. Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; And let thy saints shout for joy. For thy servant David’s sake. Turn not away the face of thine anointed.”

Jehovah, remember for David all his afflictions. This, as it stands, appears to be a prayer for David who was at the time of this psalm deceased. God is here petitioned to “remember on behalf of David” his many afflictions. To us this appears as a very strange and foreign teaching in the light of the rest of the Bible; and, although we cannot claim any authority for the approval of Dahood’s rendition of these words, we are definitely inclined to accept them. His translation is, “Remember Yahweh, O David.”(F8) This writer would appreciate further authentic information about this verse. Certainly, an indication of the legitimacy of prayers for the dead must be considered antithetical to the rest of the Holy Scriptures.

“How he sware unto Jehovah” “The oath mentioned here is an addition,”(F9) to what is revealed elsewhere in the Bible on this subject. This, however, is fully in keeping with many other similar instances in which inspired writers give additional details of events referred to. Yates thought that, “The psalmist may have been drawing from an independent tradition”;(F10) and Leupold suggested that, “The psalmist made a rather free recasting of the facts of that event.”(F11) Either of these views is acceptable if the inspiration of what is here written is accepted.

“Vowed unto the Mighty One of Jacob” This ancient title of God is also found in Genesis 49:24 and in Isaiah 41:16.

“I will not come into my house… nor into my bed… nor give sleep… or slumber to my eyes” This can hardly be taken literally. It is rather “A common figure of speech (Proverbs 6:4).”(F12) It simply means that, “The house of the Lord will be his first concern.”(F13)

“Ephrathah” is an ancient name for Bethlehem.(F14) In time, it came to refer to the district around Bethlehem. Addis gave the meaning here as, “We heard of it (the ark) in the district of Ephrathah and found it in the town of Kiriath-jearim.” `The field of the wood’ is a contemptuous reference to Kiriath-jearim, carrying the meaning that, “We found it in the sticks’!

“Arise, O Jehovah” “This was the invocation `whenever the ark set out’ in the days of Moses (Numbers 10:35)”;(F15) and it was most appropriate that the same words should have been used by Solomon as the ark of the covenant was brought into the Temple which he had prepared to receive it. The words of this verse were quoted by the author of 2 Chronicles as having been spoken by Solomon on that occasion. “This is the only mention of the ark of the covenant in the Psalter.”(F16)

“For thy servant David’s sake” Spurgeon called attention to another very significant use of this expression in the days of Hezekiah. The great and terrible army of the Assyrians, led by Sennacherib, was ready to destroy Jerusalem; and God sent a message to Hezekiah, saying, “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.”(F17)

“Turn not away the face of thine anointed” The “anointed one” here is one of the Davidic kings who succeeded David. It is not impossible at all that the king was Solomon, although most interpreters suppose it was another one of David’s successors.

Verses 11-18


“Jehovah hath sworn unto David in truth; He will not turn from it: Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. If thy children will keep my covenant And my testimony that I shall teach them, Their children also shall sit upon thy throne forevermore. For Jehovah hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for his habitation. This is my resting-place forever: Here will I dwell; for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread. Her priests also will I clothe with salvation; And her saints shall shout aloud for joy. There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed. His enemies shall I clothe with shame; But upon himself shall his crown flourish.”

This paragraph is the inspired psalmist’s announcement of God’s answer to the dedicatory prayer; and, as inspired men often did, he used material already in the Bible (2 Samuel 7:11-16), supplementing it with inspired revelations of his own.

“Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne” “If thy children shall keep my covenant… their children also shall sit upon thy throne” (Psalms 132:12). These are the inspired words of the psalmist; and they make a distinction between the Messiah, spoken of in Psalms 132:11, which is an unconditional promise; and the earthly Davidic dynasty mentioned in Psalms 132:12, whom God promised to perpetuate upon the throne of David, if they kept his covenant and the Lord’s testimonies. This promise was terminated, due to the wickedness of David’s successors, in the person of Jeconiah (Jeremiah 22:30).

Miller pointed out that, “The unconditional nature of the Davidic covenant applied to only one of David’s descendants (Psalms 132:11),”(F18) and not to, “The continuation of the political dynasty (Psalms 132:12).”(F19)

That only one was none other than Jesus Christ the Holy Messiah. He was the one who would enter the world through the posterity of David, an everlasting successor, a king, “of whose government and peace there shall be no end.” “The apostle Peter applied this to Christ, telling us that David himself so understood it (Acts 2:30).”(F20)

God’s covenant with David was indeed fulfilled, and is operative at this very moment, and eternally. God did exactly what he promised. When the holy angel of God made the announcement of Jesus’ birth to the Virgin Mary, he said:

“Thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).

“Their children also shall sit upon thy throne forevermore” Although this promise was made to David’s earthly successors provided that, “they should do God’s will,” the promise also was made good for Christ himself. We are indebted to Matthew Henry for pointing this out.

Although David’s political successors did not keep the covenant, Jesus Christ did keep it. “He did the Father’s will, and in all things pleased Him; and therefore to Christ and his spiritual seed, God made the promise good.”(F21)

Jesus’ children who are they? They are all true and obedient believers, and, behold, what Christ himself has promised them, “He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21).

This is positively the greatest promise in all the Bible, that Christians (along with the true believers of the Old Testament) will actually be “with Christ” in the midst of the throne of Almighty God himself. Where is there anything else, even in the Word of God, that can be compared with this?

“This is my resting-place forever” This answers to Psalms 132:8 in the dedicatory prayer, indicating that this portion of the psalm is God’s answer to that prayer.

“Her priests will I clothe with salvation” This is God’s answer to the petition in Psalms 132:9, “Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness.

“And her saints shall shout for joy” This is God’s answer to the petition in Psalms 132:9, “And let thy saints shout for joy.”

“The horn of David… a lamp for the anointed… his crown shall flourish” “These three terms, horn, lamp and crown scarcely need comment with their evident implications of strength, clarity and royal dignity.”(F22) However, there is a very significant variation in the word “crown.” “The word used here (in the Hebrew) is exactly the same word used for the mitre of the high priest.”(F23) This, of course, makes the passage a reference to Him who is forever a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalms 110), being both High Priest and King. This double meaning of “crown” in this passage cannot be applied to David, for it belongs to the Greater Son of David, Jesus Christ the Lord.

“Upon himself shall his crown flourish” The true and final Davidic King is Christ, who `remaineth a king forever’ (Psalms 29:10). Upon Him will the crown ever flourish.”(F24)

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 132". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/psalms-132.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
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