1 LORD our God, remember David and the hardships which he bore. 2 To the Mighty One of Jacob, to the LORD, this oath he swore: 3 “My house I will never enter; 4 rest and slumber I will shun, 5 Till I find the LORD a dwelling fit for Jacob’s Mighty One.”
6 This we heard of in Ephrathah, found it in the fields of Jaar: 7 “Let us hasten to his dwelling, worship at his footstool there. 8 Rise, O LORD, and dwell among us, resting with your ark of might! 9 May your priests be clothed with honour; may your saints sing with delight.”
10 For the sake of your own servant, David, your appointed one, Do not turn away your favour from his own anointed son. 11 God has sworn an oath to David and he will not turn from it: “I will choose from your descendants one who on your throne will sit.
12 “If your sons will keep my covenant and the statutes I make known, Surely then shall their descendants sit for ever on your throne.” 13 For the LORD has chosen Zion— there he wishes to remain: 14 “Here’s my resting place for ever, here it pleases me to reign.
15 “I will bless her with abundance; for her poor much food I’ll bring. 16 I will grant her priests salvation, and with joy her saints will sing. 17 I will raise a horn for David, for my chosen one a light. 18 With disgrace his foes I’ll cover; he’ll be crowned with glory bright.”
You can hear a Free Church of Scotland sing this Psalm to the tune Blaenwern here.
Psalm 132 is the longest of the Psalms of Ascent. Many scholars think the Psalms of Ascent were used by Israel especially for the pilgrimage feasts for which large numbers of pilgrims would make their way to Jerusalem for the celebrations. It may have been used as a kind of liturgical re-enactment in Israel while still under a monarchy. It first celebrated David’s capture of Jerusalem and then the carrying of the Ark into the city, followed by the rehearsal of God’s promise that one of David’s sons would sit on his throne forever.
The national story of Israel begins with Abram building a primitive altar in Canaan before which to worship God. Israel’s first steps are enstoried as a people who worship the One True God. Later on, as they journey through the wilderness, we are given that Moses erected a portable Tabernacle or “Tent of Meeting”, within which was kept the Ark of the Covenant. Yet King David desperately wanted to build God a “proper home”, though he was not to see it come to pass.
All good religion, I believe, strains towards the future. It is written in hopeful voice and tenses of anticipation. Tales of hardship endured, and overcome, in company with the Lord of Love become the nourishment from which confident hope emerges. Sundays bring rest and the occasion to look back at the paths we have followed, recently and in the more distant past. As we gather in our Tents of Meeting today. May we dream and pray and long for a society that is a worthy habitation for the Master of all our hopes – where abundance truly belongs to the poor.
Journeying God of all nations: faithful pilgrims on the way to worship at the temple came from different regions and with different faith experiences. In all our worshipping today may we each have a sturdy sense of anticipation and an enlivened hope for our world.
Master of our best dreams may your longing be found in us and seen through us in holy action. Amen.
The Rev’d Dr John McNeil Scott, Principal of the Scottish United Reformed & Congregational College
Sing Psalms, (C) Psalmody and Praise Committee, Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS
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