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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 132

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Psalms 132:0


Prayer for the Lord's Blessing Upon the SanctuaryMT IntroA Song of AscentsThe Eternal Dwelling of God in ZionLiturgy Commemorating God's Choice of Zion and the Davidic DynastyIn Praise of the TempleFor the Anniversary of the Transfer of the Ark
Psalms 132:1-5Psalms 132:1-5Psalms 132:1-5Psalms 132:1-5Psalms 132:1-5
Psalms 132:6-9Psalms 132:6-9Psalms 132:6-7Psalms 132:6-7Psalms 132:6-7
Psalms 132:8-10Psalms 132:8-9Psalms 132:8-10
Psalms 132:10-12Psalms 132:10 Psalms 132:10-12
Psalms 132:11-12Psalms 132:11-12 Psalms 132:11-12
Psalms 132:13-18Psalms 132:13-18Psalms 132:13-18Psalms 132:13-18Psalms 132:13-14
Psalms 132:15-16
Psalms 132:17-18

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


A. This is obviously a Psalm about

1. God's promises to David in 2 Samuel 7:12-16; 2 Chronicles 6:16 (see brief discussion of “The Davidic Covenant” in NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 507-508)

2. God's choice of Mt. Moriah as the place for His presence to dwell (cf. Deuteronomy 12:5, Deuteronomy 12:11, Deuteronomy 12:14, Deuteronomy 12:18, Deuteronomy 12:21, Deuteronomy 12:26; Deuteronomy 14:23-25; Deuteronomy 15:20; Deuteronomy 16:2, Deuteronomy 16:6, Deuteronomy 16:11, Deuteronomy 16:15; Deuteronomy 17:8, Deuteronomy 17:10; Deuteronomy 18:6; Deuteronomy 26:2; Deuteronomy 31:11, see Special Topic: Moriah)

B. The results of God's presence and Israel's covenant obedience are

1. to abundantly bless her provision, Psalms 132:15

2. to satisfy her hunger, Psalms 132:15

3. wonderful worship, Psalms 132:16

4. God's king exalted, Psalms 132:17

5. the destruction of the Davidic king's enemies, Psalms 132:17

C. For a good brief discussion of the theology of Zion see NIDOTTE, vol. 2, pp. 959 and 512.

Verses 1-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 132:1-5 1Remember, O Lord, on David's behalf, All his affliction; 2How he swore to the Lord And vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, 3”Surely I will not enter my house, Nor lie on my bed; 4I will not give sleep to my eyes Or slumber to my eyelids, 5Until I find a place for the Lord, A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Psalms 132:1 “Remember” This is an imperative used as a prayer. Psalms 25:6-7 shows the way this was used.

1. God, remember Your unchanging character of grace and mercy, Psalms 25:6

2. God, forget our sin, Psalms 25:7

“on David's behalf” Often the people of Israel and her leaders asked God to have mercy on them because of

1. His promises to the Fathers (i.e., Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob)

2. His promises to David (cf. 2 Samuel 7:0; 2 Chronicles 6:16)

“All his afflictions” This seems to allude to David's statements in 2 Samuel 16:12, but it may refer to David's initial problems in bringing the ark into Jerusalem (cf. 2 Samuel 6:0). The JPSOA translates it as “his extreme self-denial,” which would relate to its usage in Numbers 30:13 and 1 Chronicles 22:14.

The LXX revocalizes the MT (BDB 776 III, KB 853, Pual infinitive construct) to “his meekness” (a noun, BDB 776, cf. Psalms 45:4).

Psalms 132:2-5 “he swore to the Lord” This oath is not recorded in the historical books. Basically David

1. made a vow about the tabernacle being brought to Jerusalem

2. would not enter his own dwelling place (lit. “the tent of my house”) until the tabernacle (i.e., YHWH's tent of dwelling) was in Jerusalem

3. would not sleep (hyperbolic) until the ark came

4. Psalms 132:5 states his purpose (i.e., the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle in his capital, cf. Acts 7:46)

It is obvious that #2 and #3 are hyperbolic and used in a literary fashion to show intense intent!

Psalms 132:2 “the Mighty One of Jacob” This title (BDB 7 construct BDB 784) for Israel's Deity is first used in Genesis 49:24, where Jacob blesses his children, the future tribes of Israel. It is also used in Isaiah 49:26 (promise of universal redemption) and Isaiah 60:16, where it is linked with other titles for YHWH.

1. Savior (cf. Isaiah 19:2; Isaiah 43:3, Isaiah 43:11; Isaiah 45:15, Isaiah 45:21; Isaiah 63:8)

2. Redeemer (cf. Isaiah 59:20; Isaiah 63:16)

The NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 232, has the interesting comment that the adjective “mighty” has two forms.

1. originally it referred to the strength of bulls or wild oxen

2. to designate YHWH's power

Psalms 132:5 This is not referring to David's desire to build a permanent temple (cf. 1 Kings 8:17; 1 Chronicles 22:7) but to bringing the ark, along with its portable tent (i.e., tabernacle of the exodus period) into his capital, Jerusalem (cf. 2 Samuel 6:0).

“dwelling place” This is plural in the MT and may be a grammatical way to denote significance, like NET's “a fine dwelling place.”

In other contexts this term in the plural denotes all the buildings in the temple enclosure (cf. Psalms 43:3; Psalms 46:4; Psalms 84:1).

Verses 6-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 132:6-9 6Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah, We found it in the field of Jaar. 7Let us go into His dwelling place; Let us worship at His footstool. 8Arise, O Lord, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength. 9Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness, And let Your godly ones sing for joy.

Psalms 132:6 “Ephrathah” is an area in Judah which came to refer to the extended family of David (cf. Ruth 4:11). However, Bethlehem was not the location of the ark. They just heard about the King's oath (cf. Psalms 132:2) to bring the ark to Jerusalem.

“Jaar” This is a reference to Kiriath-Jearim (cf. 1 Samuel 7:1; 1 Chronicles 13:1-8), where the ark was housed in a private home for twenty years before David brought it to Jerusalem. “Jaar” is the singular form of “Jearim.”

“it” This is a feminine suffix, while “the ark” is masculine, so it may refer to David's oath (NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 736; AB, p. 244) mentioned in Psalms 132:2.

The NEB (p. 1000) mentions the fact that on at least two occasions “ark” is feminine (i.e., 1 Samuel 4:17; 2 Chronicles 8:11). Since this Psalm has several archaic words and forms this may answer the gender problem.

Psalms 132:7 Both verbs are cohortative plural and refer to a pilgrimage to YHWH's temple.

“footstool” Both David (cf. 1 Chronicles 28:2) and Solomon (1 Kings 8:27) recognized that the temple was not the true dwelling place of the God of creation. David began to call the place between the wings of the Cherubim above the mercy seat (lid of the ark) the place where heaven and earth, the invisible and visible, the eternal and temporal, met (cf. Exodus 25:22)! He called it YHWH's footstool” (cf. Isaiah 66:1; see Special Topic: The Ark of the Covenant); also note Psalms 99:5.

The imagery of Deity as having feet is part of the limits of human vocabulary. See SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD DESCRIBED AS HUMAN (ANTHROPOMORPHISM) (anthropomorphism).

Psalms 132:8 “Arise” This verb (BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative) is used in Numbers 10:35 and 2 Chronicles 6:41 to denote YHWH rising from His throne to go before His people to fight on their behalf (cf. Psalms 3:7; Psalms 7:6; Psalms 9:19; Psalms 10:12; Psalms 44:26; Psalms 74:22; Psalms 82:8).

This verse and Psalms 132:9 seem to be an allusion to Solomon's dedication of the new temple in 2 Chronicles 6:41.

“Your resting place” YHWH is described in human terms because there is no other vocabulary available to Bible authors (see SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD DESCRIBED AS HUMAN (ANTHROPOMORPHISM). The ark of the covenant and, thereby YHWH Himself, needed/wanted a physical location for it/Him to reside/rest (cf. 1 Chronicles 6:31; 1 Chronicles 28:2; 2 Chronicles 6:41; Psalms 132:8, Psalms 132:14; Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 66:1). Remember, anthropomorphic imagery does not ascribe a limit on God but on human ability to comprehend the God of time and space (i.e., physical creation).

A new book by John Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One, uses the cosmologies of the ANE to show that Genesis 1:0 is the account of YHWH building a cosmic temple (i.e., the earth) as a place to rest (cf. Genesis 2:1-3).

Hebrews 3:7 through Hebrews 4:13 (cf. Psalms 95:7-11) contains a play on the word “rest” referring to three different things.

1. seventh day of creation from Genesis 2:2 in Hebrews 4:3, Hebrews 4:4, Hebrews 4:10

2. the promised land from Numbers 13-14 in Hebrews 3:11, Hebrews 3:18; Hebrews 4:8

3. eschatological heaven

“Rest” is both a sense of peace and a desired location of fellowship (cf. Psalms 62:1; Isaiah 63:14; Jeremiah 31:2).

Psalms 132:9 This verse has two imperfects used as jussives.

1. be clothed - BDB 527, KB 519, Qal

2. sing for joy - BDB 943, KB 1247, Piel

It is uncertain if there are two groups mentioned (i.e., priests and worshipers) or a literary parallel.

In Job 20:14 Job describes himself as clothed in righteousness. It is uncertain exactly what it means in connection with these priests. Possibly that they reflect YHWH's character and revelations in their leadership, lives, tasks, and duties.

This verse may reflect the festive and fearful march of the ark carried by specially dressed priests and singing Levites.

Verses 10-12

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 132:10-12 10For the sake of David Your servant, Do not turn away the face of Your anointed. 11The Lord has sworn to David A truth from which He will not turn back: “Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne. 12If your sons will keep My covenant And My testimony which I will teach them, Their sons also shall sit upon your throne forever.”

Psalms 132:10-12 This strophe surely alludes to 2 Samuel 7:0. Notice the conditional element of Psalms 132:12 related to each individual descendant but the larger purpose of God expressed in 2 Samuel 7:14-16.

Notice the sound play of so many of the verbs of Psalms 132:10-12 starting with שׁ.

1. do not turn away - BDB 996, KB 1427, Hiphil jussive

2. has sworn - BDB 989, KB 1396, Niphal perfect

3. He will not turn away - same root as #1 but Qal imperfect

4. I will set upon Your throne - BDB 1011, KB 1483, Qal imperfect

5. if your sons will keep My covenant - BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal imperfect (notice the conditional aspect, cf. 1 Kings 9:4-9; Psalms 89:30-45)

Psalms 132:10 “Your anointed” This is the term (BDB 603) from which the title “Messiah” comes. See SPECIAL TOPIC: MESSIAH.

Psalms 132:12 “covenant” See Special Topic: Covenant.

“testimony” See Special Topic: Terms for God's Revelation.

“forever” See Special Topic: Forever ('olam).

Psalms 132:11 “The Lord has sworn to David” As David swore in Psalms 132:2, now YHWH responds with His own oath. This oath is known as the Davidic covenant (cf. 2 Samuel 7:0; Psalms 89:3, Psalms 89:35).

Verses 13-18

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 132:13-18 13For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. 14”This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it. 15I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her needy with bread. 16Her priests also I will clothe with salvation, And her godly ones will sing aloud for joy. 17There I will cause the horn of David to spring forth; I have prepared a lamp for Mine anointed. 18His enemies I will clothe with shame, But upon himself his crown shall shine.”

Psalms 132:13-18 This strophe describes the things YHWH has done (Psalms 132:13-14) and will do (Psalms 132:15-18).

1. He has chosen Zion (see Special Topic: Zion), Psalms 132:13-14

2. He will abundantly bless (emphatic infinitive absolute and imperfect verb of the same root, BDB 138, KB 159), Psalms 132:15a

3. He will provide food, Psalms 132:15b

4. the temple priests will be godly people, Psalms 132:16 (cf. 1 Chronicles 6:41)

5. the temple worshipers (cf. Psalms 4:3 or Levites) will sing aloud for joy (emphatic infinitive absolute and imperfect verb of the same root, BDB 943, KB 1247), Psalms 132:16 (cf. 1 Chronicles 6:41)

6. He will establish the dynasty of David in Jerusalem, Psalms 132:17

7. He will defeat Israel's enemies, Psalms 132:18

Psalms 132:16 Because of the parallels of this strophe, probably “priests” (or Levites) are addressed in both lines of this verse.

Psalms 132:17 “the horn of David” The horn is a Hebrew idiom of power and pre-immanence (cf. Luke 1:69).

“to spring forth” This verb (BDB 855, KB 1033, Hiphil imperfect) may be related to the imagery of the special Davidic King called “The Branch.” See:


2. full note at Isaiah 11:1 online

3. NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 75

The root for “crown” is נזר, which could denote

1. a crown (noun, BDB 634)

2. to consecrate (verb, BDB 634)

3. Branch (a title of the Messiah)

“a lamp for Mine anointed” This is a specific usage of the light imagery that refers, not to revelation (i.e., Psalms 18:28; Psalms 119:105; Proverbs 6:23) but to a Davidic descendant on the throne of Israel (cf. 1 Kings 11:36; 1 Kings 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19; 2 Chronicles 21:7). In 2 Samuel 21:17 it refers to David himself.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 132". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-132.html. 2021.
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