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(Sunday between November 20 and November 26)
Psalm 132:1-12, (13-18)

This is another of the so called ĎSongs of Ascentsí (Psalms 120-134). We looked at Psalm 127 a little while ago and noted earlier comments on the group there. With Psalm 132 we are in the midst of the third group of psalms within the ĎSongs of Ascentsí, Psalms 130-134. This smaller collection speaks of hope for the future with further reflection on the Davidic covenant toward the end of the collection.

Psalm 132, while the centre of the group Psalms 130-132, is also the longest of the Songs of Ascents. In our lectionary reading this week, it is suggested that we read vv. 1-12, and if desired vv. 13-18 also. This division is in some ways unfortunate. It breaks the psalm at a point just beyond the more natural division of the psalm between vv. 10 and 11.

The psalm begins by asking the Lord to Ďrememberí in Davidís favour all the hardships the latter has endured (v. 1), particularly Davidís frustrated desire to Ďfind a place for the Lord, i.e. a place to build a temple to the Lord (vv. 3-5). In the story in 2 Samuel 24, just after todayís Old Testament reading, we hear of Davidís census of the people (probably for taxation purposes), a story connected to the location of the temple to be built by Solomon (24:18). The story recounts the Lordís anger at this activity and Davidís later sense of guilt over it. Even at the end of Davidís story in Samuel the old hesitancy over the trappings and institutions of human kingship still remain. Temples were not always independent religious institutions as we might think, but often, as in the case of the Jerusalem temple, more like royal chapels attached directly to the palace. As such they were instruments of political power. Davidís frustration in this psalm at not being able to build a temple to the Lord spells out a latent opposition between David and the Lord that remained until Davidís death.

Psalm 132 recounts some of the history of the ark coming to Jerusalem, with Jaar and Ephrathah (v. 6) probably being references to the place Kiriath-Jearim in the fuller story in Samuel (1 Sam 7:1-2). The prayer at the end of the first half of the psalm (vv. 1-10) seeks the Lordís continued attention to David and his covenant (v. 10). The second half (vv. 11-18) begins parallel to the first with the Lordís oath (v. 11; cf. Davidís in v. 2). This reiterates the Lordís promise that a descendant of David would sit on the throne. The Lord has chosen Zion as his resting place forever and will bless it and its people (vv. 13-18). The Lord promises that he will raise a Ďhorní, i.e. a descendant, for David and maintain a Ďlampí for the Lordís anointed, i.e. the messiah or Davidí descendant to come (vv. 17-18). There is thus an eschatological reshaping of the promise to David. This psalm looks back to the historic David and anticipates a new descendant for David. As such it complements both the last words of David read today and the anticipation of the reign of Christ, Davidís descendant according to the Gospels.

Suggestions for the use of the psalm in worship

Verses from Psalm 132 serve well in both the call to worship and the blessing at the conclusion of the service. Verses 8-9, adapted can be used as the call to worship:

Rise up, O Lord, and come to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
Let your ministers be clothed with righteousness,
and your faithful shout for joy.
Let us worship the Lord.
Verses 14-16 could form the beginning of the final blessing:
This is the Lordís resting place forever;
here the Lord will reside,
for he desires it.
The Lord will abundantly bless its provisions;
the Lord will satisfy its poor with bread.
Its priests the Lord will clothe with salvation,
and its faithful will shout for joy.
And the blessing of the Lord,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
is upon you,
Now and forever.
Old Testament reading: 2 Samuel 23:1-7

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