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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Psalms 132



Verses 1-18

Psalm 132

A Song of degrees

Lord, remember David,

And all his afflictions:

2 How he sware unto the Lord,

And vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob;

3 Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house,

Nor go up into my bed,

4 I will not give sleep to mine eyes.

Or slumber to mine eyelids,

5 Until I find out a place for the Lord,

A habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.

6 Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah:

We found it in the fields of the wood.

7 We will go into his tabernacles:

We will worship at his footstool.

8 Arise, O Lord, into thy rest;

Thou, and the ark of thy strength.

9 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness;

And let thy saints shout for joy.

10 For thy servant David’s sake

Turn not away the face of thine anointed.

11 The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David;

He will not turn from it;

Of the fruit of thy body

Will I set upon thy throne.

12 If thy children will keep my covenant,

And my testimony that I shall teach them,

Their children shall also sit

Upon thy throne for evermore.

13 For the Lord hath chosen Zion;

He hath desired it for his habitation.

14 This is my rest for ever:

Here will I dwell; for I have desired it.

15 I will abundantly bless her provision:

I will satisfy her poor with bread.

16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation:

And her saints shall shout aloud for joy.

17 There will I make the horn of David to bud:

I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed.

18 His enemies will I clothe with shame;

But upon himself shall his crown flourish.


Contents and Composition.—A prayer is uttered ( Psalm 132:1-5), that a recompense might be made for those toilsome efforts with which David sought to fulfil his vow to find a dwelling for Jehovah. An invitation to enter into this dwelling of God for worship is then addressed ( Psalm 132:6-7). Next follows a supplication that the sanctuary and its ministers may be blessed for David’s sake ( Psalm 132:8-10), to whose throne Jehovah hadsworn to grant perpetuity, provided his descendants would keep his covenant ( Psalm 132:11-12), and which He had sworn to bless in Zion as the seat of the Theocracy, together with all her members and servants ( Psalm 132:13-18).

The mode of expression is not such as to lead to the conclusion, that the Psalm was a prayer uttered by David at the dedication of the sanctuary after the removal of the ark into the holy Tent on Zion (Aben Ezra, et al.), or at the consecration of the threshing-floor of Araunah, 2 Samuel 24. (Kimchi, Geier). Psalm 132:10, especially, contradicts this; for though the suppliant styles himself the anointed of Jehovah, which expression must be understood as applied, not to the High Priest, nor to the people, but to a theocratic king, yet this king, in his petition, prays for an answer “for the sake of David thy servant.” But we should not go very far down into later times; for, according to Psalm 132:8, the ark of the covenant must be regarded as still in existence. This not only forbids a resort to the Maccabæan period (Olshausen, Hitzig, who refers to Simon’s entry into the conquered city, 1 Maccabees 13.), or to the end of the period of Persian rule (Ewald), but also excludes any occasion subsequent to the exile (Köster, Hengst, et al.). For all support is wanting to the supposition which the contrary view would necessitate, that the poet only employed the language of an earlier time, and sought to cheer and encourage his cotemporaries, either by borrowing directly from older compositions, or by transferring his stand-point with poetical freedom to a period of past glory, and exhibiting that glory to them, together with the prophecies uttered at that time and fulfilled in part when the Psalm was penned. If we consider the former hypothesis, that of a borrowing, it is suggested that the passage, Psalm 132:8-10, with a few changes, embodies the conclusion of Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple, as it is recorded in 2 Chronicles 6:41 f, in a more extended form than in 1 Kings8. But these differences are of such a nature as to lead to the conclusion that the Chronicler (Del, Hupfeld), and not the Psalmist (Hengst, Olsh, Hitzig), was the borrower (comp. Psalm 130:2). With regard to the hypothesis of a poetical transfer of stand-point, it must be admitted that it would be the gloomiest times that would be most appropriately directed to a brilliant past with its promises (Köster, Hupfeld), and that, in particular, the expectation of a revival of the kingdom and family of David would most naturally have been excited during the founding of the new colony (Hengst.). But Psalm 132:10 creates the impression, not of a Messianic (Stier and older commentators), but of an historical reference, and, as mentioned above, of having been spoken by a theocratic king. For this reason, we cannot refer directly to Zerubbabel (Ewald, Bauer, et al.) as the offspring of the Davidic stock ( 1 Chronicles 3:1; 1 Chronicles 3:19), at the head of those who returned from the exile ( Ezra 2:2), who fixed in him especially their joyful hopes of a restoration of the Theocracy ( Haggai 2:23; Zechariah 4:6-7). It is possible that the Psalm is the application of an older one to him and to his age (De Wette); but there are grave objections to supposing that it was composed at this or a later time, when there was no actual king such as is here described. For the history of Israel does not exhibit theocratic expectations grounded upon poetical conceptions and representations, but contains the development of God’s kingdom on the ground of prophetic revelations. If this view be taken, there is occasion sufficient to justify a reference to the building of Solomon’s Temple and the transfer of the ark from the Tabernacle to the House on Zion (Amyrald, De Wette, Tholuck), not employed as a poetical figure and as the drapery of another meaning (Hupfeld), but as the actual occasion of the origin of this Psalm.—Yet a confident decision cannot be made. Even Delitzsch, who still remarks the resemblance to Psalm 122. in a certain diffuseness, a repetition of words, and a progress of thought advancing with difficulty here and there with uncertain steps, remains finally of the opinion, “that the acts done, according to 2 Samuel 6:7, by David for the honor of Jehovah, and the promise made to him by Jehovah there repeated, are here employed by a poet after his time, who bases upon them a prayer full of hope, a prayer for the kingdom and priesthood of Zion, and for the Church regulated by them.” Hebrews, however, presents this view in close connection with the following words: “It, at all events, proceeded from an age when the throne of David still remained and the holy ark was not yet irrecoverably lost.” Nothing points specially to king Josiah (Maurer). The same remark applies to the supposition that the Psalm was to be sung in responses by the congregation and a choir of the priests (Olshausen).

[Hengstenberg’s opinion that the Psalm was designed for the “new colony” is largely based upon his assumption that all the anonymous pilgrim-songs were composed after the exile. But each Psalm must be treated independently, nor can a general rule of this nature be employed to support any special case. His other main argument is that the Psalm begins with an allusion to the depressed state of David’s kingdom. But it is impossible to discover anything of the kind, the “trouble” of David ( Psalm 132:1) being manifestly, as is evident from the connection in which he stands, supported by the form of the word in the Hebrew, that which he underwent in preparing a dwelling for God. On this point see further in the exposition. On the other hand, the only view which is not encumbered with difficulties is that which assigns the composition to Solomon or some contemporary poet, after the building of the Temple. So Perowne, who says: “It is perfectly natural that Solomon or a poet of his age, writing a song for such an occasion, should recur to the earlier efforts made by his father to prepare a habitation for Jehovah. On the completion of the work, his thoughts would inevitably revert to all the steps which had led to its accomplishment. It is no less natural that, at such a time, the promise given to David should seem doubly precious, that it should be clothed with a new interest, a fresh significance, when David’s son sat on the throne, and when the auspicious opening of his reign might itself be hailed as a fulfilment of the promise.”—J. F. M.]

Psalm 132:1-2. All his trouble [E. V.: all his afflictions]. The infinitive Pual used as a substantive here describes the anxieties and vexations by which men are harassed, and by which they feel themselves inwardly as well as outwardly oppressed ( Isaiah 53:4; Psalm 119:71), the troubles which attend efforts that are long without result, and of which they yet never weary ( 1 Kings 5:17).—The mighty one of Jacob is a designation of God taken from Genesis 49:24, and frequent in Isaiah. [Render Psalm 132:1-2 : Remember, Jehovah, to David, all his harassing cares, who sware to Jehovah, vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob.—J. F. M.]

Psalm 132:3-7. It is idle to discuss whether the words of the oath, which the Septuagint present still more fully, are given literally. It is not indicated whether the allusion is to the vow made by David, that he would build a temple, which is inferred from 2 Samuel 7:2, or only to the preparation of a secure place generally ( Psalm 78:67) for the ark which had previously no fixed residence, by transferring it to Zion ( 2 Samuel 6.). In the days of Saul there was very little concern felt for the ark ( 1 Chronicles 13:3). From the hands of the Philistines it was taken to Kirjathjearim, and remained there twenty years, as though forgotten ( 1 Samuel 6:21; 1 Samuel 7:1 f.). This city is mentioned in the Old Testament under several different names. It is therefore not absolutely impossible that the field of yar, or the field of the wood, Psalm 132:6 b. was intended to designate this city Kirjathjearim, i.e, forest-city, the sense being: we have at last found the ark in that place. Under this view the preceding clause is to be understood: we heard that it was in Ephrathah. But what place is that? Bethlehem, which anciently ( Ruth 4:11, Genesis 35:16; Genesis 35:19; Genesis 48:7) was so designated ( Micah 5:1), cannot be meant; for the ark had never been in that city. The explanation also: we in Ephrathah, i.e, David and other Bethlehemites, heard of it by report (Kimchi, Grotius, Hengst.), is inadmissible, in the light both of grammatical rules and of actual fact. Song of Solomon, too, with the supposition of an allusion to the birth of the Messiah (Jerome, Stier), or to Jerusalem as lying in the vicinity of Bethlehem (Aben Ezra, et al.). Most hold, therefore, that Ephraim is meant, since in Judges 12:5; 1 Samuel 1:1; 1 Kings 11:26, אֶפְרָתִי means: an Ephraimite. But they differ as to the precise locality referred to. Some suppose that it is Shiloh, as a place within the bounds of Ephraim, and where the ark resided in older times (Piscator, Cocceius, Amyrald, et al.). Others maintain that the word is a figurative and appellative designation of Bethshemesh, when the ark was set down by the Philistines, and where it created a great sensation by its effects, 1 Samuel 6:16 (Hupfeld). Others, again, explain Ephrathah as the name of the district in which Kirjathjearim lay, referring to the circumstance that Caleb had, by his third wife, a son Hur ( 1 Chronicles 2:19), who was the ancestral head of the Bethlehemites ( 1 Chronicles 4:4), and, through his son Shobal, the head also of the inhabitants of Kirjathjearim ( 1 Chronicles 2:50). The latter accordingly would belong to Caleb Ephratha ( 1 Chronicles 2:24), as the northern part of this portion of the country appears to have been designated, in distinction from negeb Caleb ( 1 Samuel 30:14), the southern portion (Del, Hitzig). But all these explanations have, in addition to the objections which may be urged against them individually, to meet in common the following difficulty: If the suffix in Psalm 132:6 a be referred to the ark, which is not named before Psalm 132:8 b, and there in a quite different connection, and especially when it is considered that the suffix depends upon שׁמע, the discourse becomes very abrupt, odd, and obscure. This is so marked that it has even been conjectured that part of the text has fallen out (Olshausen). It would be better, therefore, to refer the suffix to the notion which lies concealed in the word, viz: the report heard. There is then no ground for the division of the verse in such a way that the first member is made to relate to the hearing of the report of David’s intention in Bethlehem, while the second tells of the finding of the ark in Kirjathjearim (Baur). For in both members the speakers are the same, namely, the Israelites generally; for it is inadmissible to assume that David here continues (Hengst.) what had been announced to be only a vow. The Psalmist is included in the Israelites as a member of the same united nation, as in Psalm 66:6. It is impossible that the latter are described here as people of Bethlehem; for special prominence is given in this Psalm to David and his house, and Bethlehem was the seat of his family. It lay, moreover, not far from Jerusalem, so that one would be at once reminded of the Holy City and its environs. Under these circumstances, it is much more natural to suppose that the name is not used here topographically but figuratively (Calvin), and that it is put by periphrasis for the whole land of Judea, whether this be indicated by a contrasting of the arable and wooded, the inhabited and uninhabited land, or by that of the South and the North, Ephratha and the wooded land of Lebanon, Isaiah 22:8; Isaiah 29:17; Psalm 75:7; Haggai 1:8 (Venema, Ewald, Kamphausen). The sense would then be that everywhere throughout the land there was heard, not the report of David’s vow, but as the word “lo!” indicates, and the whole style and purport of what follows require, the voice or discourse, whose words are given in Psalm 132:7, i.e, the voice which utters the invitation to enter the house of God which had since been completed, and to worship there.

Psalm 132:8-10. According to this view, Psalm 132:8 is not a continuation of the address, but a prayer of the Psalmist, uniting his supplications with those of the congregation, and worshipping before the ark. Hebrews, as we think, is identical with the anointed ( Psalm 132:10), and he with Song of Solomon, and his prayer is that Jehovah would arise and, with the ark of His covenant, would enter into the place prepared as His dwelling. And the place where this happens is not the house of Abinadab in Kirjathjearim, where the ark once resided, but the Tabernacle on Zion, whither David had brought it, and whence Solomon now brings it into the Temple ( 1 Kings 8:3). The expression: raise thyself, or: arise, is taken from Numbers 10:35, where it is employed to summon the congregation to set forward. The place of rest is the place where the ark was securely placed ( Numbers 10:33; Numbers 10:36; 1 Chronicles 28:2). In Psalm 132:9 prayer is offered for the worthy attendants at the temple: first for the priests, that they may not only be clothed with white garments, the symbol of innocence and purity ( Luke 23:11; Revelation 8:5), to minister in their midst the rejoicings of the people, 2 Samuel 6:14-15, comp. Leviticus 6:3 f (Hitzig), but that they may wear the spiritual robe of righteousness ( Job 29:14; Isaiah 61:10); and then for the people, as they shall serve God in the ordinances of His worship (Kimchi, J. H. Mich, Köster, Hupfeld, Del.). Psalm 132:10 then forms a much more suitable conclusion to this division by its reference to Psalm 132:1, than would be made if it were treated as the beginning of a new section (Calvin, De Wette.)

Psalm 132:11-12. Psalm 132:11 refers to the prophecy in 2 Samuel7, which receives its complete fulfilment in the Messiah (comp. Psalm 89.). The swearing is not to be sought in any single word of the promise (Kimchi), but is to be taken as setting forth its inviolability, for the purpose of strengthening faith so often wavering, and there fore also the reliability of the promise Isaiah, in addition, brought out expressly on its positive side as truth ( 2 Samuel 7:28), and negatively, by the additional statement that God will not depart from it ( Isaiah 45:23; Joel 2:14). Most join אמת as an accusative to the first member; but see, on the other hand, Delitzsch and Hupfeld. [Perowne: “This is not the object of the verb נשׁבע: ‘He hath sworn a faithful oath.’ Delitzsch makes it an adverbial accusative, and claims the support of the accents, the Pazer (distinctive) marking the close of the first member of the verse. But it is better to take it independently, as standing at the beginning of a parenthetical clause: ‘It (i.e, the oath) is truth, He will not depart from it.’ ”—J. F. M.] The condition ( Psalm 132:12) of the fulfilment of the prophecy, namely, faithfulness to the covenant, manifested by obedience to God’s testimony of Himself, that Isaiah, His Revelation, is presented also in 2 Samuel 7:14 f, similarly to Genesis 18:19; Genesis 26:5; 1 Kings 8:25; Psalm 89:31 f.

Psalm 132:13-18. The choice of Zion, i.e, of Jerusalem as the seat of the sanctuary and of God’s dwelling, is finally, in Psalm 132:13, mentioned as the ground, not of the invitation expressed in Psalm 132:7 (Amyrald, Rosenm.), or of a supposed prayer for the restoration of the family of David (Hengstenberg), but of the sure fulfilment of the promise just sworn or adduced as a reliable one. In the following verses, also, it is cited in Jehovah’s own words in attestation of its reliability, first as a fact realized by Divine power, and then described in its blessed effects, which shall reach through all time and bear a Messianic character. The anointed, Psalm 132:17, Isaiah, it is true, not the same person who prays in Psalm 132:10, but, according to the context, David, to whom the promise was given. But the growing of the horn, the symbol of victorious power and warlike strength ( Ezekiel 29:31), and the blooming of the princely crown, as of an unfading wreath which shall flourish perpetually and ever renew its blossoms, while his enemies shall be covered with shame as with a garment ( Job 8:22), and the lamp ordained for the anointed ( Psalm 18:29; 1 Kings 11:36), as the symbol of a brilliant, glorious, and unquenchable life, are directed, in the mouth of God, beyond the mortal and in part faithless descendants of David, to that Seed who, in prophetic visions and announcements, appears as the Sprout of Jehovah, Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15; Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12 (Calvin, et al, Köster, Olshausen, Del.). So the Synagogue have also regarded it, which in its daily prayers, consisting of eighteen passages in which blessings occur, has the words: “may the Sprout of David Thy servant soon shoot forth, and his horn soon be exalted by Thy salvation.” This the father of the Baptist employs in the form of a prayer with thanksgiving, with his eyes directed to the approaching fulfilment ( Luke 1:68-70). “Shiloh has been rejected ( Psalm 78:60); in Bethel and Mizpah the sacred ark remained but a short time ( Judges 20:27); the house of Abinadab in Kirjath sheltered it only a little over twenty years ( 1 Samuel 7:2); the house of Edom in Perez-Uzzah ( 2 Samuel 6:11) only three months. But Zion is Jehovah’s abiding dwelling-place, his own place of settled מְנוּחָה (as in Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 66:1, and besides in 1 Chronicles 28:2). In Zion, His chosen and delightful dwelling-place, Jehovah blesses that which supplies the temporal needs of her poor, so that they will not starve; for Divine love is specially displayed towards the poor. The other blessing which He gives He bestows upon the priests; for it is through them that He takes up His abode among His people. He makes Zion’s priesthood a system actually representative of His salvation; clothes her priest with salvation, so that they shall, not merely as instruments, be the media of its communication, but shall personally possess it; and their whole appearance shall announce its message. And to all the pious He gives reason and matter for exalted and abiding joy, by manifesting Himself also in acts of mercy to the Church which He has made His dwelling. Truly in Zion is the kingdom of promise, whose fulfilment cannot fail!” (Delitzsch).


What we do and suffer for the sake of God, may indeed be sore to the flesh, but it will be more than fully rewarded by Him.—When we build a house to the Lord of the universe, let us never forget that we should worship Him in it, and prepare ourselves to be His dwelling through the appointed means of grace.—We should rely upon God’s word, and serve Him in accordance with it, and then with His blessing we shall never fail in temporal and spiritual well-being.

Starke: The sufferings of believers for the cause of truth are not meritorious, but neither are they in vain; they are not forgotten by God ( Matthew 5:11-12).—It is a great blessing of God, that men can come together in freedom of conscience to worship Him; but how little is it regarded!—The more perilous the situation of Christ’s kingdom appears to be, with the more devotion must we utter the next petition of our Lord’s prayer.—The true life in Christ Jesus is required especially in public teachers; this sanctifies all their natural gifts.—Those who would enjoy the benefit of the promises made to the fathers, must walk in their footsteps of faith and godliness.—God loves to dwell where His word is preached in its simplicity and purity, and where He is served in accordance with it. But He has no pleasure in self-selected service.—He who follows after Christ will never fail of spiritual strength or true enlightenment.

Frisch: A man must forego his own comfort and rest rather than neglect the Lord; for that would be to seek his own pleasure and forget God—If God has so favored thee as to make thee stand in His Church, thank Him for it your whole life long; perform its duties worthily, and hold fast to the precious promises which thou hast heard.—Rieger: Oh that nothing were so great in our eyes as the kingdom of God! and that we, by prayer and by searching out, continued as firmly in the Divine promises as believers of old!—Tholuck: God’s rich pleasure in the Church, which He founded from His free purpose of mercy, moves Him to give gracious promises with regard to all three relations of life, as needing maintenance, instruction, and defence.—Guenther: The true Temple can only be that which Hebrews, who has been declared King of Glory, keeps building up until the fulness of the times. David and Solomon were the types or Christ.—Diedrich: When we become anxious about the safety of the Church, we must only keep up a lively remembrance of the Divine promises; all distrust will then disappear, for God’s word is the most certain of all things.—Taube: When God blesses, He does it with no niggardly hand; He gives far above what we have asked or can understand. This is to be marked at the table, in the heart, and on the throne.

[Matt. Henry: What God sanctifies to us we shall and may be satisfied with.—God gives more than we ask, and when He gives salvation He will give an abundant joy.—Whom God clothes with righteousness He will also clothe with salvation; we must pray for righteousness and with it God will give salvation.—Scott: If God answered the prayers grounded upon His covenant with David. He will never turn away His face from us, when we plead the covenant made with His anointed Prophet, Priest, and King.—J. F. M.]


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 132:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.

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