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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 132

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


A Song of degrees.

The authorship of this psalm is not positively known. That it was written while the throne of David still remained, and before the ark was irrecoverably lost, Delitzsch has well supposed must be admitted. But who wrote it? Was it David, or Solomon, or some contemporary of his? That the substance of Psalms 132:8-10, are found in the prayer of 2 Chronicles 6:41-42, is no proof against its Davidic authorship, because it would be perfectly natural for Solomon to quote from his father’s writings, in a case so apropos. That David is everywhere spoken of in the third person is not decisive against his being the author, for such examples are not infrequent in poetry. More forcible is the objection of Psalms 132:10, where the “anointed” is undoubtedly the king himself, and the blessing on him is invoked for “David’s sake.” See the notes. But still more forcibly, on the other side, is Psalms 132:6 decisive against any other than David as author, where the great historic fact of the psalm is directly referred to the writer himself. See the note. Then consider that the great points of the psalm are but recited incidents of David’s experience facts belonging to his reign: as Psalms 132:1-5 of his earnest and painful care for the ark and worship of God: Psalms 132:6, the place where it was found and from whence taken; Psalms 132:7-9, a prayer that Jehovah may be pleased to take his abode between the cherubim as in ancient days, whither also the people would repair to worship; Psalms 132:10-12, the rehearsal of the promises made to David through Nathan the prophet, (2 Samuel 7:12-17;) Psalms 132:13-18, the confirmation of Zion as the abode of the ark and the political capital of the nation, which confirmation is certified in abundant spiritual and temporal blessings. Indeed, the freshness and earnestness of the psalm could proceed only from the standpoint of personal and recent experience. The composition and spirit are in the style of David. It is a prayer for the stability and perpetuity of his throne. Against the postexilic date given to it by some, it is enough to say that no such attempt to restore the throne of David was made by the new colony. Zerubbabel, though of David’s line, was not proposed as king. Solomon probably used the psalm at the dedication of the temple, and the exiles at the dedication of the second temple. Its place as שׁיו המעלות , a Song of Degrees, or, “Pilgrim Song,” is due undoubtedly to its highly national and Davidic type, its devout and cheerful strain, and its strong theocratic character. We must place it, therefore, in connexion with the second removal of the ark, namely, from the house of Obed-edom to Zion. 2 Samuel 6:12-19

Verse 1

1. Afflictions The word denotes any trouble, toil, or suffering, mental or physical, from whatever cause. It may here have a reference to David’s long persecutions by Saul, and trials during the seven years’ civil war with Ishbosheth, or to his special anxieties, perplexities, and care for the removal of the ark to Zion, and the resuscitation of the order of national worship. They were evidently “afflictions” or harassing cares, undertaken and endured for the Lord’s sake. Literally, Psalms 132:1-2, read: Remember, O Jehovah, to David all his trouble, who swore to Jehovah; vowed to the mighty one of Jacob.

Verse 3

3. Surely I will not come Literally, “ If I shall go into the tent of my house.” The beginning of the sentence is the usual form of oath, which here is given in Psalms 132:3-5, the oath form being repeated three times: If I shall go into my tent If I shall go up upon my couch If I shall give sleep to my eyes. The forfeiture of the oath is left to be supplied, as if he had said:

If I do these things before I find out a place for the Lord, etc., then let such and such things befall me. These solemn vows, that when he should come to power he would make it his first concern to provide for the ark and worship of God, were made by David in his affliction and trouble.

Verse 5

5. Place Abiding place, a settled abode.

Habitation Hebrew, tabernacles; the word is plural as in Psalms 132:7.

Mighty God of Jacob Mighty One of Jacob, same as Genesis 49:24, of which it is a quotation.

Verse 6

6. Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah Although “of” is not in the original, yet the sense requires it, as in the similar form in Jeremiah 46:12, “The nations have heard thy shame,” they have heard “of” thy shame. That Ephratah is Bethlehem is certain from Micah 5:2; Genesis 48:7; Ruth 4:11. Some suppose it to be the same as “Caleb Ephratah,” a place in the tribe of Ephraim, so called after Caleb and Ephrath his wife. 1 Chronicles 2:19-24. Gesenius thinks it the same as Ephraim. But either view is too improbable to be entertained. Hengstenberg has given the only intelligible explanation to this obscure clause. The suffix pronoun “we” must be understood of David and the people when the former was yet a youth. The feminine suffix, rendered “it,” which is the object of the verbs heard and found, has “ark” for its original, not mentioned till Psalms 132:8, but here poetically anticipated, and all along implied as the theme of the psalm, especially in Psalms 132:5, in the phrases “place for the Lord,” “tabernacles for the mighty God of Jacob.” It must be considered that the ark was at Kirjath-jearim about eighty years, (eighty-two, according to Dr. Hale,) from the judicature of Eli (l Samuel Psalms 7:1) to the eleventh year of David’s reign. During all the reign of Saul (who was remiss as to this matter) no access was had to it. 1 Chronicles 13:3. The people knew of it only by report. See notes on Psalms 88:9-10; Psalms 88:16-18. The clause should read, “We, in Ephratah, heard of it” [the ark.] The form is analogous to Matthew 2:2, “We have seen his star in the East,” that is, “We in the East have seen,” etc.

We found it in the fields of the wood Jaar, here rendered “wood,” is to be taken as a proper name, same as the plural Jearim, a poetical abbreviation of Kirjath-jearim, the forest city, or city of groves, where David found the ark. 1 Chronicles 13:5-6

Verse 7

7. Tabernacles Apartments and courts of the tent pitched on Zion for the public convocation of the people, (see on Psalms 84:1,) or else, by ensilage, the plural is put for the singular.

Verse 8

8. Arise, O Lord, into thy rest Let Jehovah take possession of the ark on Zion, and make it his dwelling place, as in the tabernacle in the wilderness. Exodus 40:34-35; Leviticus 9:23-24. The formula was quoted by Solomon. 2 Chronicles 6:41.

Ark of thy strength The “ark” was the standing symbol of the power and protection of God. It is simply called “strength,” Psalms 78:61, which see. The word “ark” occurs nowhere else in the Psalms.

Verse 9

9. Priests… saints These are comprehensive of the visible Church. The “salvation” (Psalms 132:9, righteousness) of the former shall secure the “joy” of the latter.

Verse 10

10. David’s sake… anointed These terms must be taken as synonymous, as in Psalms 132:17 and Psalms 89:20. It is not unreasonable that David should invoke a blessing upon himself for the sake of his own piety and integrity. Examples of this kind are not infrequent. See 2 Kings 20:3; Nehemiah 13:14; Jeremiah 15:15. The only supposed difficulty lies in this rare use of the third person, but it must be considered the language is highly courtly and reverential. Hengstenberg says: “That the ‘anointed’ is no other than David, is evident from the parallelism from Psalms 132:1 to Psalms 132:17.” No other king, or “anointed,” than David is introduced throughout the psalm.

Verse 11

11. Sworn So Psalms 89:3. The allusion is to 2 Samuel 7:8-16. The swearing is not to be sought for in form, so much as in the unchangeableness of the word, which finds its complete fulfilment in David’s prototype, Messiah, and his kingdom. See Acts 2:30; Luke 1:32; Luke 1:69. The second member of the verse explains the force of the first. On the covenant with David, see on Psalms 89:3-4; Psalms 89:19-37

Verse 13

13. Zion On “Zion” as the chosen place for Jehovah’s dwelling and ark, see on Psalms 78:9-10; Psalms 78:60-69

Verse 15

15. Provision Primarily, what is taken in hunting, as venison, but generally nourishment. The parallel clause has it bread. Temporal blessings are always included in all God’s covenants with man.

Abundantly bless Literally, Blessing I will bless; that is, I will surely bless.

Verse 16

16. As Psalms 132:15 secures temporal blessings, so here the spiritual are guaranteed also.

Verse 17

17. Horn The emblem of power; in symbolic language, of kingly power.

Anointed A common appellative of David in the Psalms, wherein it occurs nine times, and uniformly applies to him. See on Psalms 132:10, and Psalms 2:2; Psalms 18:50; Psalms 20:6.

Ordained a lamp From a comparison of the text with 1 Kings 11:36; 1Ki 15:4 ; 2 Kings 8:19; 2 Chronicles 21:7, it is seen that to ordain “a lamp,” or light, for David, means to decree for him a perpetual dynasty. This clearly strikes into the Messianic sphere, and is fulfilled only in Christ. “Ordain,” has the sense of to prepare, to arrange. God had arranged everything in his plan and covenant for the perpetuity of David’s throne.

Verse 18

18. Clothe with shame Contrasted with the clothing of the priests. Psalms 132:16.

Upon himself A clear indication that David was living at the writing of this psalm, and consequently that it was not written after the exile, as some suppose; for after that period no literal heir of David ever sat upon his throne. But the language in any case is highly spiritual and Messianic.

Shall his crown flourish His crown shall put forth blossoms, as the original denotes. This brings forward the figure of Psalms 132:17: his horn shall “bud.” Perpetual life, vigour, and beauty shall adorn his reign.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 132". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-132.html. 1874-1909.
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