Theme: The Climax of the Pilgrimage
In this week’s lessons, we see what God will do for those who, as pilgrims in this life, look to him in faith and obedience.
Scripture: Psalm 132:1-18
Psalm 132 is about the ascent of the Ark of God to Jerusalem in the days of David. It is the longest of the fifteen Songs of Ascents, roughly twice as long as any other. Yet it is an appropriate psalm for this collection for two reasons. First, it was sung by pilgrims who were making their way up the steep mountain roads to Jerusalem, and it is about the Ark, which was likewise moved to Jerusalem. Second, the Ark was deposited in the Most Holy Place of the temple on the Temple Mount, and the temple was the spiritual focal point of these pilgrimages. Since it deals with the climax of the pilgrimages, it is also appropriately placed toward the end of the collection, being followed only by Psalm 133 (which deals with the unity of God’s people) and Psalm 134 (which is about the servants of God who minister continually in the temple).
Two other psalms also seem to mark the coming of the Ark to Jerusalem, Psalms 24 and 68, but this is the only psalm that actually mentions the Ark. In this case, the emphasis is on David whose idea it was to bring the Ark to Jerusalem.
This is a beautifully constructed psalm. The first half (vv. 1-9) is about David’s oath in which he promised to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. The second half (vv. 11-18) records God’s corresponding oath in regard to David, promising him an everlasting dynasty. In this second half the ideas of the first half are repeated, but they are heightened as God characteristically promises to do more than his people either ask or expect. In this way, Psalm 132 is an anticipation of Ephesians 3:20, 21, which says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Who wrote the psalm? And when was it written? Verse 10 shows that it is not by David—it is an appeal to God in David’s name—but is by another king who looks back to David and claims God’s promise to him. Since verses 8-10 are quoted in 2 Chronicles 6:41, 42 as part of Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple, the psalm probably dates from Solomon’s reign even though the title does not identify it as Solomon’s psalm. H. C. Leupold is typical of many commentators when he writes that in his judgment the psalm is from this period and was composed, along with other psalms, for the temple’s dedication.1
Stephen refers to verse 5 in the speech recorded in Acts 7 (v. 46), and Peter refers to verse 11 in his Pentecost sermon recorded in Acts 2 (v. 30).
1H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1969), p. 910.
Why is Psalm 132 appropriately called a Song of Ascent?
What are the two halves of the psalm about?
When and by whom was the psalm written?
List some New Testament references to this psalm.