Psalm 132 is Messianic in its implications, because it reflects the promises which have been made to the house of David.
The ultimate implications of the promises to David reach their fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah.
Those who sang this song-prayer in ancient Israel could not have been ignorant of what this Psalm teaches.
This Psalm (132) is very closely related to Psalm 89, which we have just studied, but there is one important difference, and that is, Psalm 132 has a note of confidence from the very beginning and continuing throughout the Psalm, while Psalm 89 has a dark and pessimistic outlook in certain places.
Psalm 132 is a prayer-psalm, and it is called a pilgrimage psalm because many commentators think that it was written after the children of Israel returned from their captivity.
Other students of the Bible assign this Psalm to the time of the United Kingdom, making it possible for David to have written it, or for it to be written after the death of David at the dedication of the Temple of God by Solomon.
However, the Psalm is more easily understood if we consider it to be a prayer of the people rather than the prayer of one of the monarchs.
The portion to which we shall give the greater attention is that made up of verses eleven through eighteen, which is the second portion in which God answers the prayer that has been offered in the first ten verses.
The Psalm has only two main divisions. They are:
A prayer offered by the people at some important event, possibly the dedication of the Temple.
Then in verses eleven through eighteen we find God's answer to that prayer.
This is the order in which we will study this gem of Old Testament thought.
These two divisions are further sub-divided, making a total of four stanzas, as follows:
The prayer that David's vow concerning the ark be remembered (vv. 1-5).
That the sanctuary in Zion would be accepted (vv. 6-10).
The mention of God's oath to David (vv. 11-13).
God's choice of Zion as his everlasting throne (vv. 14-18).
Each stanza in the Psalm is made up of ten lines. This gives it its poetical form.
"One writer titles the psalm: 'The Ark Ascends to Zion.' It is the only psalm in which the ark is mentioned. The bringing of the ark from Kiriath-jearim, where it had rested for twenty years, to its permanent home in the temple in Jerusalem was the climax of a journey of centuries, began at Sinai. . . . The two subjects of Psalm 132 are worship in the temple and the security of the throne. The author is unknown, although Solomon may have written it in commemoration of the completion of the temple. At its dedication Solomon quoted verses 8-10, as recorded in II Chronicles 6:41-42. The psalm does not belong to the postexile period, because the ark disappeared when the temple was destroyed."1
I. The Prayer of the People (verses 1-10).
The prayer of the people recalls all the steps which led to the building of the Temple.
The thrust of this prayer is that all the things which were promised to David might come to pass.
The building of a Temple to the glory of God was one of the top priorities of David during his reign over Israel.
The great king had vowed that he would not enter his house to sleep until he found a suitable dwelling place for God (vv. 2-5).
Early in the reign of David the ark of the covenant had been nearly forgotten. In the town of Ephratha, later called Bethlehem, there had been received a report that the ark of the covenant had been located in the house of one Abinadab (1 Samuel 7:1-2).
This house appears to have been in the fields of Jaar, that is, in Kirjath-jearim (v. 6).
The ark of the covenant may have been housed in a humble tent in Abinadab's house, but to believing Jews this tent was God's exalted dwelling, or his footstool (v. 7).
In verse eight, the prayer moves into a petition, and an ancient prayer belonging to the period of the Book of Numbers was revived as the people Cry out, "Arise, O Lord, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength."
This prayer, which always involved the removal of the ark of God to a new site, would indicate that the ark was to be moved to Jerusalem (v.8).
The petitioner offers his prayer that all God's people might rejoice at the moving of the ark to their capital (v. 9).
The prayer then concludes with the request that David's prayers might not be rejected by God (v. 10).
II. The Answer to the Prayer (verses 11-18).
God answers the earnest prayer of his people, and in so doing he embellishes on the promises that he had given to David through Nathan the prophet in 2 Samuel 7:11ff. He points out:
That the zeal of God for the house of David was no less than the zeal of David for the house of God.
God had actually sworn an oath concerning the Davidic dynasty.
While no oath is mentioned in 2 Samuel 7:11ff, in this passage God gave his assurances which are as binding as an oath.
There is solemn assurance that God would set one of David's descendants on the throne after him (v. 11), meaning that the house of David would continue without interruption so long as his descendants observed the law of the Lord. (This condition of the literal fulfillment is implied in 2 Samuel 7:14, and explicitly stated in 1 Kings 8:25. In Psalm 89:30ff the thought is developed that man's unfaithfulness cannot defeat the ultimate purpose of God.)
The permanence of the kingdom of David was based upon the divine choice of Zion as Jehovah's dwelling place on the earth. The church, which is the New Jerusalem come down from heaven, is the dwelling place of God after the death of Christ upon the cross.
After a pestilence had come to an end in Jerusalem, God commanded David to offer a sacrifice on the threshing floor of Araunah in 2 Samuel 24:18-25.
This was done to assure David that that was the spot which God had chosen for his permanent dwelling place among his people, Israel.
The threshing floor of Araunah was on Mount Zion where Jerusalem was located.
Later when the splendid Temple was built on Mount Zion, the Jews had concrete proof that God had chosen that spot, and in addition to that, that he had made a divine guarantee to David, and to his family who would build the Temple.
Zion was the dwelling-place of God, and "Zion" is used to represent God's kingdom which shall never want for a king.
The physical Zion of the Old Testament was but a clip, or preview, of the true Zion which is the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
We must always remember that what was promised under types in the Old Testament is that which really exists in the spiritual kingdom, and this would certainly include the Tabernacle or Temple which were earthly pictures of the church.
In verse eight, the prayer was extended to God that he would come to his resting place.
Then the Lord assured his people that Zion would be his eternal resting place, and that would be by his own choice (v.13-14).
In verse fifteen, God assures his people that he would bless their food and drink, and that he would give special attention to the needs of the poor in Zion.
In spiritual Zion the poor in spirit eat of the bread of life. (Matthew 5:3; John 6:30-35)
In verse nine the people had prayed for their priests, and God replies, in verse sixteen that he would clothe his priests with salvation.
By this he meant two things:
Under the law of Moses God would accept the priestly ceremonies as being effective in the salvation of the people.
Under the Gospel of Christ every person is his own priest, and this certainly affects our eternal salvation.
Furthermore, God made his saints shout aloud with joy because of this salvation (v.16).
In the New Testament Zion, which is administered by David's greater Son -- Jesus Christ -- all citizens are priests and as such they are clothed with salvation. This gives us cause to praise God.
In verse ten of the prayer, God had been asked to grant blessings "for the sake of David."
But God did much more than that, for he said that he would "make a horn to grow for David." (v. 16).
The word "horn" in the Old Testament is a word that symbolizes power, and probably refers to the destructive power of the horns of the oxen.
This figure may simply mean that Jehovah would bring prosperity to the house of David.
"The verb'sprout,' however, suggests a relationship to the prophecies of Jeremiah and Zechariah where tsemach (sprout) is used as a title for the Messiah." (See: Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Zechariah 3:8; 6:12)2
In Daniel (7:7-24; 8:5) the word "horns" is used as a symbol for a great and dominant king, so the horn which was to grow, has, in this passage, Messianic implications; it is speaking of Christ.
Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, obviously had this passage in his mind when he spoke the following words:
Luke 1:68-69, (68) "Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, (69) and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David . . ."
Not only would God cause David's horn to grow, but he would also make a lamp for David.
The word lamp demonstrates the continuing of the Davidic line which would reach its zenith in the One who is called ". . . the light of the world." (John 9:5)
There may also be a reference here to the lamp which was kept burning perpetually in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle.
While the enemies of David, and of the Messiah were, and are, put to shame, the crown worn by David, in the person of his descendant the Messiah would flourish.
The word crown (nezer) that is found in this verse and in Psalm 89:39 means either that which is consecrated, or the diadem which was the mark of consecration to an office. We believe that it refers to the latter. (See: Ezekiel 29:21.)
The word was used in the Old Testament to designate the crowns of two offices.
That of a King.
That of a High Priest. (See: Exodus 29:6)
The verb flourish (yatsits) means to glitter or sparkle, and it is from the word "tsits," which referred to the glittering golden plate bearing the inscription "holiness to Yahweh" which was worn on the turban of the High Priests of Israel.
All this suggests that David's Son, the Messiah would not only be a king, but he would at the same time be a High Priest, which is exactly what Zechariah said would be the case in 6:13.
Zechariah 6:13, ". . . yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on His throne; so He shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both."
This passage plainly states that Jesus would be a king and a high priest at the same time, and would be ruling on both thrones at the same time.
So, Psalm 132 ends with the assurance of the destruction of God's enemies, and the flourishing of God's Anointed One.
"Zion represented the church (Heb. 12:22). In the horn of David that was made to bud, or sprout, we see the righteous Branch that God raised up unto David, a king who 'shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth' (Jer. 23:5). Isiah [sic] and Zechariah also foresaw the Branch, and Isaiah said further of him, For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground" (Isa. 53:2) 3
In the promises that God made to David we see the following blessings as they are set forth by Matthew Henry:
Growing power. The royal dignity of David would increase more and more.
Lasting honor. A lamp is a successor . . . David shall not want a man to stand before God.
Complete victory. Let the enemies be clothed with shame, especially the enemies of Christ.
Universal prosperity. Upon himself shall his crown flourish.4
Jesus may have been "a man of sorrow," but he is also our 'King of kings."
1 Bill Jackson, "The Blessings Resting In David," The Book of Psalms, Vol. II, Frank Dunn, ed., Southwest Publications, Austin, 1990, p. 367.
2 James Edward Smith, What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, 1993, p. 99.
3 Jackson, p. 370.
4 Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Vol. III, Job to Song of Solomon, Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, IA, undated photocopy of 1710 edition, p.744.