Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. – Psalm 132:3-5
As a college student, I forfeited many a night’s sleep in order to complete some paper or prepare for a final exam. My purpose was to graduate, and papers and exams were a necessary part of that process. One particular incident stands out in my memory. As a requirement in a music history class, I had to submit a biography about a composer of my choice. At five or six in the morning of the day the paper was due, I was still sitting at my computer, doing my best to compile sentences that not only communicated the facts accurately, but also made sense! The word “tired” simply doesn’t do justice to how I felt. My brain seemed full of cement, and my fingers were having an increasingly hard time finding the right keys. However, it was not an option to give up and say, “The paper will just have to be late.” I had to finish it that morning! Thankfully, the task was done at last, and I was even able to sleep for an hour or so before going to class. I cannot forget how relieved I felt when the task I had set out to do was finally accomplished.
In our focus verses, David had a purpose he was determined to realize. As king, his dwelling was a beautiful palace. However, it troubled him that the Ark of the Covenant — the symbol of God’s dwelling among His people — had no permanent resting place. David could not settle comfortably into his own residence until he did his part to correct that situation. Even though David was not the one called to actually build the Temple for God, he fulfilled his purpose by preparing all of the materials necessary for his son, Solomon, to complete the work.
Has the Lord laid something on your heart that you need to do for Him? Has He given you a task to accomplish for His Kingdom? Sometimes we know we have a commission from the Lord and yet we find ourselves distracted from committing ourselves fully to our assigned task. Let us learn a lesson from David! His commitment and zeal were so wholehearted that he was willing to deny himself the basic comforts of life in order to fulfill his purpose. May David’s words encourage us not to procrastinate regarding anything God would have us do for Him. We will find the benefits far outweigh the time and effort we exert to achieve the goal.
These five psalms conclude the fifteen “Songs of Degrees,” also known as “Songs of Ascents” or “Pilgrim Songs.”
Psalm 130 was the sixth of seven penitential psalms in the Book of Psalms (6, 32, 38, 51, 106, 130, 143); it is classified as an individual lament. The author and setting are unknown. The eight verses express two themes: a cry of penitence (verses 1-4), and the hope of pardon (verses 5-8). This psalm is unique in that the focus is the awful nature of sin rather than sin’s consequences, though references to redemption and forgiveness are included in its content.
This psalm negates the teaching that God grants perpetual forgiveness for ongoing sinning. According to verses 3 and 4, one who is sinning cannot stand before God. Forgiveness is granted so those who receive it will serve God in reverence and awe.
Psalm 131 is a short gem of a psalm which expresses David’s deeply personal sense of humility. In three short verses, the psalmist established the condition of his heart, repudiated pride, and reposed in tranquil trust upon God. He concluded by admonishing Israel to rely upon God with the same serene faith.
Psalm 132 is the lengthiest of the “Songs of Degrees” and centers on a petition that God’s promises to David would not go unfulfilled. “Ephratah” (verse 6) was a reference to Bethlehem, David’s hometown, where he presumably first heard of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was confiscated in battle by the Philistines, and was recovered at Kirjath-jearim (referred to as “the fields of the wood”) many years later during David’s reign. In verse 7, “his footstool” likely meant the Ark of the Covenant or its dwelling place in the Holy of Holies. Verses 11-12 point to God’s promise that David’s seed would reign forever. Although most of David’s descendants refused to obey God’s commandments, resulting in the destruction of his earthly kingdom, God fulfilled His covenant with David through His Son, Jesus, who was born of the lineage of David. Verses 17-18 are Messianic references to Jesus’ future reign and triumph over His enemies. Although David’s earthly kingdom faded away, Jesus’ Kingdom will flourish forever.
Classified as a wisdom psalm, Psalm 133 is attributed to David and emphasizes the blessings of dwelling in unity. The Hebrew word translated “brethren” in verse 1 denotes those of the same ancestry, and may have referred to the preservation of harmony in households, because in David’s time, married sons remained with their families in the parents’ home. However, the principle relates to unity in the family of God as well. In verse 2, the psalmist compared abundant brotherly love with the profuse amount of oil used in the anointing of Aaron as High Priest, which ran from his head to his skirts. The analogy of dew spreading from Mount Hermon in Northern Israel to the mountains of Zion in the south (verse 3), illustrates the extent of God’s blessing on all those who dwell in unity.
Psalm 134 is the final “Song of Degrees” and exhorts praise in the sanctuary of the Lord. Some Bible historians suggest that the high priest recited verses 1 and 2, and verse 3 was the response of the priestly choir. This psalm is identified as a combination hymn and blessing. Its date and author are unknown. The lifting up of hands referenced in verse 2 was symbolic of prayer and praise.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines are used by permission per WORDsearch.)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
A Closer Look
1. What promise is given in Psalm 132:11-12 and what conditions are laid out in order for that promise to be fulfilled?
2. The final psalm of the “Song of Degrees” focuses on those who work in the house of the Lord, specifically those who watch at night. What attitude and behavior were they to display in doing their job, and why do you think this attitude was important?
3. How can we be sure that God will “command” a blessing as mentioned in Psalm 133?
The Lord has a job for each one of us who choose to follow Him. Let us purpose in our hearts and minds that we will be willing to make whatever effort is required to fulfill God’s will for us.