Blessing Upon David
Have you ever made a promise to God? Did God bless you for your efforts?
There's an old saying: "Be careful what you pray for. You might get it." While the saying seems to imply the answer to the prayer had negative consequences, many times the answer to prayer is an unexpected blessing. Such was the promise of David to bring the Ark of the Covenant to his new capital, Jerusalem. His promise was answered by God with a covenant of everlasting proportions. Both promise and blessing were found in Psalm 132.
Psalm 132 celebrated the Davidic line that found its root in the relationship between the son of Jesse and YHWH. In doing so, it focused its prayer on the dynastic covenant, and, by extension, God's promise to the city of David.
The psalm can be divided into three parts: 1) the oath David made to find a "resting place" for the Ark of the Covenant, 2) a prayer to remind God of the covenant he made to David, and 3) a declaration about the status of David's city.
A Song of Ascents.
1 YHWH, remember David and all his affliction,
2 how he swore to YHWH,
and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob:
3 "Surely I will not come into the structure of my house,
nor go up into my bed;
4 I will not give sleep to my eyes,
or slumber to my eyelids;
5 until I find out a place for YHWH,
a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob."
6 Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah.
We found it in the field of Jaar:
7 "We will go into his dwelling place.
We will worship at his footstool.
8 Arise, YHWH, into your resting place;
you, and the ark of your strength.
9 Let your priest be clothed with righteousness.
Let your saints shout for joy!"
World English Bible
Most of the "songs of ascents" (pilgrimage psalms) can be dated from period after the Exile, while this psalm's theme reached back before the destruction of Jerusalem. It is possible to give the psalm meaning after the return by envisioning David as a symbol for Jerusalem, his affliction would be the suffering of those in Exile, the vow to place the Ark in Jerusalem would be the will of the people to return and rebuild the city.
Without giving David symbolic meaning, 132:1-9 summarized the vow David made to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. 132:3-5 described the efforts David would make in typical Semitic fashion (that is, his ready willingness to suffer). "Ephrathah" referred to the David's clan within the tribe of Judah; "field of Jar" was the name of a small village west of Jerusalem (132:6). 132:7-8 used different titles to describe the Ark ("resting place, footstool, ark of strength"); these titles clearly indicated that YHWH was present. In response to God's presence, the hymn called for the presiding Levite to be "clean" according to the Law ("clothed in righteousness") and the congregation to celebrate (132:9).
10 For your servant David's sake,
don't turn away the face of your anointed one.
11 YHWH has sworn to David in truth.
He will not turn from it:
"I will set the fruit of your body on your throne.
12 If your children will keep my covenant,
my testimony that I will teach them,
their children also will sit on your throne forevermore."
132:10-12 was a prayer and a reminder to YHWH to be faithful to his covenant with David. The Lord promised the king that his progeny, if faithful, would rule forever.
13 For YHWH has chosen Zion.
He has desired it for his habitation.
14 "This is my resting place forever.
Here I will live, for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless her provision.
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16 Her priests I will also clothe with salvation.
Her saints will shout aloud for joy.
17 There I will make the horn of David to bud.
I have ordained a lamp for my anointed.
18 I will clothe his enemies with shame,
but on himself, his crown will be resplendent."
132:13-18 attached the existence of Jerusalem with the Davidic covenant. If David's descendants were to rule forever, then the city of the king would exist forever. The Lord's blessing would be on the city and it's inhabitants (132:15). The promise of righteous Levites and a joy-filled congregation echoed the imperative of 132:9 (132:16). The psalm ended with a blessing on David; The "horn of David" referred to his strength and the "lamp" referred to the constant presence of God before David and his progeny. Finally, David and his line would be honored, while his enemies would be shamed.
Notice the promise was not the cause of the covenant, only the opportunity for God to bless his anointed. Such is the case with our prayers and promises to God. We can only ask, act, and wait. We have no right to demand. If we did have such a right, we would only receive what we wanted, not the gifts God graciously bestows on us.
Should we ask and make promises to God? Yes! We should also be open to his response, for he answers in ways unexpected, but full of blessing.
Make God a promise this week. Limit the scope of your promise so it is realistic. Do not expect anything in return. Instead, make it a gift to God, out of love. Any blessing you receive will also be freely given.