The Clarity of the Gospel in Psalm 132

I fully believe that many, if not all, Christian doctrines may be found in the psalms. One Psalm in particular is Psalm 132. Out of one hundred and fifty, I think some psalms may be passed over often in favor of others. This Psalm, like all others, has a richness in doctrine to be found within and I have taken much joy from meditating on it. All quotations from the Psalm will be from the 1650 Scottish Metrical Version, a translation made for ease of singing.

David, and his afflictions all,
    Lord, do thou think upon;
How unto God he sware, and vow’d
    to Jacob’s mighty One.
I will not come within my house,
    nor rest in bed at all;
Nor shall mine eyes take any sleep,
    nor eyelids slumber shall;
Till for the Lord a place I find,
    where he may make abode;
A place of habitation
    for Jacob’s mighty God.
Lo, at the place of Ephratah
    of it we understood;
And we did find it in the fields,
    and city of the wood.
We’ll go into his tabernacles,
    and at his footstool bow.
Arise, O Lord, into thy rest,
    th’ ark of thy strength, and thou.
O let thy priests be clothed, Lord,
    with truth and righteousness;
And let all those that are thy saints
    shout loud for joyfulness.
For thine own servant David’s sake,
    do not deny thy grace;

Nor of thine own anointed one
    turn thou away the face.
The Lord in truth to David sware,
    he will not turn from it,
I of thy body’s fruit will make
    upon thy throne to sit.
My cov’nant if thy sons will keep,
    and laws to them made known,
Their children then shall also sit
    for ever on thy throne.
For God of Sion hath made choice;
    there he desires to dwell.
This is my rest, here still I’ll stay;
    for I do like it well.
Her food I’ll greatly bless; her poor
    with bread will satisfy.
Her priests I’ll clothe with health; her saints
    shall shout forth joyfully.
And there will I make David’s horn
    to bud forth pleasantly:
For him that mine anointed is
    a lamp ordain’d have I.
As with a garment I will clothe
    with shame his en’mies all:
But yet the crown that he doth wear
    upon him flourish shall.

This song is divided into two main sections. We’ll examine the first.

The Psalmist is asking God to remember David’s faithfulness in finding a place for the Lord. This was before the first temple was built and David desired that God would live among men in a great house. His commitment to finding a place for the Lord is shown in verses 3 through 5. He vows not even to sleep until he finds that place. As we know from Jewish history and scripture, David does not eventually build the temple but his son, Solomon, does. This is because God declared that David was a man of war and bloodshed and was not fit to built the Lord’s house. Continuing on, in verses 6 and 7 we see the people singing the Psalm declaring that they have heard about God being somewhere in Ephrathah, and they find him in the fields of Jaar. In verses 8 through 10 they petition God to go to his resting place and not to turn the face of the anointed one away.

The phrase “your anointed one” is what initially caught my eye as I was reading this. I was struggling to consider what the psalm was saying when it hit me. At first glance, I thought the anointed one was referring to David because the kings in the old testament were referred to as anointed by God, but we see that isn’t the case. Verse 10 says “For thine own servant David’s sake, do not deny thy grace; Nor of thine own anointed one turn thou away the face.” This implies that the anointed one in this verse is not the same person as David. I looked up the original text for this verse. The word translated as “anointed one” is the Hebrew word mashiach, which is translated to English as Messiah, the term we know is used for Jesus. It was at this moment the meaning of the passage was revealed to me. Everything after verse 10 is specifically referring to Jesus.

This brings us to the second section of the chapter.

We begin by reading an oath that the Lord swore to David. Unlike David’s oath, the Lord can and will keep his oath. He says “I of thy body’s fruit will make upon thy throne to sit.” We know from numerous other texts that Jesus is referred to as the “Son of David” and that he sits and reigns on the “throne of David.” David’s reign was a foreshadowing of Christ’s reign. The next verse goes on to say that those who keep God’s covenant and laws shall also be seated on the same throne. Verse 12- “Their children then shall also sit for ever on thy throne.” This text is saying that those who obey the commands of God will reign with Christ on the throne of David. This blew my mind, but then I remembered that this same statement is made throughout the Bible in verses like Romans 8:16-17 and 2 Timothy 2:11-12.

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint- heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Romans 8:16-17 KJV

It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.
2 Timothy 2:11-12 KJV

After verse 12, God describes where his dwelling place is. His dwelling place is not a physical location, like the Jews thought, but it is a people. Verse 13 says “For God of Sion(Zion) hath made choice; there he desires to dwell.” Where is Zion? Zion is the mountain on which the city of Jerusalem was established on and the word is used synonymously with the city. Where else do we see a picture of Jerusalem?

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. Revelation 21:2-3 KJV

The city of Jerusalem is the universal church of believers. Verse 2- “Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” The church is known as the “bride of Christ.” The Revelation passage is describing the fulfillment of the oath that God swore to David.

Verses 15-18 of Psalm 132 display the work and glorification of Jesus, particularly verse 16. “Her priests I’ll clothe with health.” (in the King James, (with salvation”) Further evidence is given in verse 17 that this refers to Jesus’ work in his people. The verse says, “And there will I make David’s horn to bud forth pleasantly.” We see this fulfilled in Zechariah’s prophetic song in the new testament.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.
Luke 1:68-69 KJV

The entire Bible is about Jesus, and this Psalm is such an excellent picture of that. As with all things, we close with the glory of Christ.

As with a garment I will clothe
    with shame his en’mies all:
But yet the crown that he doth wear
    upon him flourish shall.

Recommended Resources

Psalms of David in Metre, Kindle Edition
Revised by the Westminster Assembly

Christian Herring is a member of Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Christiansburg, VA. He is a husband and father.