PSALM 134 TALK   BLESS THE LORD DAY AND NIGHT

PSALM 134 TALK   BLESS THE LORD DAY AND NIGHT

(GETTING TO THE FINAL DESTINATION OF THE JOURNEY OF FAITH AND THE CONCLUSION IS THAT WE MUST SEEK TO BLESS OR PRAISE THE LORD ALWAYS)

 (The thirteenth Psalm of the 15 Psalm series in the book of Psalms called “Songs of Ascent” which deals with the ultimate attitude and all -embracing activity we must always be involved in, namely seeking to bless or praise or worship the Lord and he promise is to bless us always).

(THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

 GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 For an introduction to the Songs of Ascent see Psalm talk for Psalm 120

PART 3.   PSALMS 130 – 134 – PERFECTING THE JOURNEY

INTRODUCTON TO PSALM 134

 I was very interested to learn in my study of this Song of Ascent Psalm, Psalm 134 that the NIV translation of the opening words, “Praise the Lord” is better translated as, “Bless the Lord”. This is because the actual Hebrew word used is, “Barakhi” which means literally “Bless the Lord”. This led me to study what it means to, “Bless the Lord”.

Some might say why does God want us to say to him “Bless You” when he is as the Psalm ends with, “The maker of heaven and earth”. Yet, particularly in the book of Psalms the concept of us saying, “Bless the Lord” is found in many places and the most famous of these is of course Psalm 103 verse 1,

“Bless the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, bless (or praise) his holy name”

 This verse was the inspiration for the modern worship song “10,000 Reasons” which commences with the words,

“Bless the Lord Oh my soul

Oh, my soul

Worship His Holy name

Sing like never before

Oh, my soul

I’ll worship Your Holy name”

 In my search for what it means to “Bless the Lord” I came across a YouTube clip by a famous Jewish Rabbi called Rabbi Mardeshai Becker who spoke of the close association of the Hebrew word, “Barakhi” with another Hebrew word, “Bereicho”which means “Pool” or the bubbling source of a pool or stream of water. Mardeshai argues that this is not a coincidence and that when we bless God there is a flow of activity between the Lord and us which is seen in Psalm 134 because the first two verses are us blessing or praising God and the last verse is Lord blessing us.

Other Hebrew scholars also point out that the Hebrew word “Barakhi” or “Bless” is related to another Hebrew word that means “Knee” or “Kneel”, which relates to worship although in Psalm 134 the instruction is for worship to be done by lifting our hands which I will explain the meaning of more fully later in this Psalm talk.

So why does my NIV bible translates “Bless the Lord” to “Praise the Lord”?

The answer seems in the widely accepted meaning for “Bless the Lord” which I found was expressed ver well by another “YouTube” clip by John Piper who says that “Bless the Lord’ is,

“Synonymous with praising the Lord” and he offers Psalm 34 verse 1 to show this connection,

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips”.

 Piper goes on to give us a very clear definition of what “Bless the Lord” actually means,

“It is speaking well of the Lords greatness and goodness”.

 So, this final Song of Ascent brings to a close the journey of the ancient Jews to Jerusalem. In this Psalm, they are now at the final destination, Jerusalem and the Temple or Sanctuary as it was called in David’s time.

So, what should they do once they have arrived at their final destination?

The answer is simple, “Bless or praise the Lord” and once they did that they would receive God’s promised blessing who is the maker of heaven and earth.

What does this mean for us as Christians on our journey of faith to heaven?

I will advocate that whether we are in heaven or still on our way our supreme duty and desire should be to seek to, bless or praise the Lord. With this in mind I will now seek to open up this wonderful last song of ascent Psalm, Psalm 134.

My outline for this Psalm talk reflects the idea of us blessing or praising the Lord and the Lord blessing us.

  1. (1 – 2)BLESS THE LORD
  1. (vs. 1)Bless the Lord you servants of the Lord
  2. (vs. 2)Lift up your hands in praise

2   (vs. 3)   THE LORD WILL BLESS YOU

  1. (vs. 3a) The Lord will bless you
  2. (vs. 3b) The Lord the maker of heaven and earth

 Let’s then have a close look at this Psalm with these headings:

  1. (1 – 2)BLESS THE LORD

 So, as I said in the introduction my NIV bible does not fully represents the literal meaning of the original Hebrew which should read,

“Bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord”.

There are four things I want to make comments about in this first verse of this Psalm and they are:

  1. Bless the Lord
  2. All you servants of the Lord
  3. Who minister by night
  4. In the house of the Lord

Let me now comment on each of these four things in this verse;

  1. Bless the Lord

As I said in my introduction the NIV translation along with many other translates the Hebrew word for bless, “Barakhi” is translated “Praise the Lord”. It seems that “Bless the Lord” is a concept that non – Hebrew speaking people would have problems with but as Rabbi Mardeshai Becker aptly pointed out in his “YouTube” clip blessing God and saying blessings is a natural well understood thing for a Hebrew speaking Jew.

He speaks of the English tradition of saying “Bless You” when someone sneezes and says we want our sneezing person to not be sick even though they are sneezing. In fact, this tradition started, it is believed in England during the times of terrible plague when sneezing was an early sign of you coming down with the plague.

So, we can understand why we can say “Bless You” to another human being but why would we want to say to God “Bless You”?

It seems that the connection of the Hebrew word for “Bless” to another meaning “Kneel” is the key to how we are to bless God, “GotQuestions.org” says,

“The Hebrew word translated “bless” or “praise” means literally ‘to kneel”, the implication being to kneel in worship”.

 The ancient Hebrews have had a hard and long journey to Jerusalem and the Temple there so what will they do when they finally get there?

The answer is “Bless the Lord” or “Praise the Lord” or better still worship the Lord as they kneel at his feet. I have mentioned in many of my earlier Psalm talks the Westminster Confessions shorter catechism first question and answer that goes like this,

  1. 1.What is the chief end of man?

And the answer is:

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever”.

 When we seek to bless or praise God we are truly worshipping him and that means if we are doing it from our hearts we are glorifying our God. We do this because of what he has done for us in The Lord Jesus Christ through his act of mercy or undeserved love in dying for our sins on the cross.

This is what Paul tells us true worship is all about in Romans 12: 1,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship”.

 Or as the writer the Hebrews says in Hebrew 13: 15,

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name”.

 Note the writer to the Hebrews speaks of this praise or worship offered to God is a,

“Fruit of our Lips”

 Interestingly, I found John Pipers comments on David’s words in Psalm 34 verse one,

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips”.

Emphasised the words, “on my lips” or in the translation he quoted “from my mouth”

 Piper says,

“It is though David is eager for his soul to get to work”.

 He explains that David is saying something like, lord my mouth is praising you come on soul get on board and praise or bless you as well.

Praising God and enjoying in him forever is what we are called upon to do now on our journey to God in heaven and it is what we will be doing forever in heaven. As we see from many references of what goes on in heaven from the book of revelations like Revelation 19: 5 – 7,

Then a voice came from the throne, saying:“Praise our God, all you his servants,you who fear him, both great and small!”Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.Let us rejoice and be gladand give him glory!For the wedding of the Lamb has come,and his bride has made herself ready”.

When those ancient Jews got to Jerusalem after their long difficult journey to that place their joy or pleasure was wrapped up in worshipping the Lord for that was the goal of the pilgrimage. We don’t want to go to heaven like a mountaineer wants to climb a mountain, because it is there. We want to go to heaven to join other fellow believers in praise and worship of the Lord.

In fact, why do you want to go to church?

My reason for wanting to go to church on a regular basis is to join with other fellow believers to worship the Lord together and serve one another and in turn be blessed by the whole wonderful experience.

As the writer to the Hebrews says Hebrews 10: 22 – 25,

“let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”.

2.    All you servants of the Lord

This call to bless the Lord or praise the Lord is addressed to special individuals in the Temple or Sanctuary in Jerusalem who are called,

“Servants of the Lord”

Who then are these servants of the Lord?

The general view of most commentators is that these “servant of the Lord” are in the priests and Levites who continually worked on worship practices in the Temple and we will see soon they performed both day and night.

In the Old Testament, the whole Temple operations had priests and Levites that performed duties from offering up sacrifices, leading the people in prayer, maintaining the temple area and even guarding the Temple day and night.

This special ministry was in the Old Testament given to the descendants of Levi and Aaron as we see in a reference like Numbers 3: 5 – 10,

“The Lord said to Moses, “Bring the tribe of Levi and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him. They are to perform duties for him and for the whole community at the tent of meeting by doing the work of the tabernacle. They are to take care of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, fulfilling the obligations of the Israelites by doing the work of the tabernacle.Give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to him. 10 Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary is to be put to death.”

 The coming of Jesus and the establishment of the New Covenant through his sacrifice on the cross for our sins changed all this as the writer to the Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 8: 1 – 6,

“Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.

 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises”.

 Then in Hebrews 9: 11 – 15, the writer to the Hebrews sets down how Jesus changed forever the way God wants us to worship him,

“But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here,he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 

14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,so that we may serve the living God!

 15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant”.

 So, who now are the servants of the Lord?

The answer to this is a wonderful revelation and it is found in a key reference in the New Testament 1 Peter 2: 4 – 5,

“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual houseto be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”.

 To make this even more clearer Peter tells us this in 1 Peter 2: 9 – 10,

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy”.

 From these two references came a radical teaching even in the Christian church in the great reformation in the 16thcentury called “The Priesthood of all believer”. The fact is even the Christian church somehow forgot how God wanted them to conduct worship now that he had sent his son and through his death made a way back to him.

We don’t need “Priests” offering sacrifices like the Old Testament we are all priests offering as the writer to the Hebrews said in Hebrews 15: 13,

 “A sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name”.

        3.   Who minister by night

This final Song of Ascent then throws up a very curious phase,

“Who minister by night”

 So, the previous phrase, “servants of the Lord” refers to the Priests and Levites who serve in the Temple but now it is picking out the priests and Levites who do their service at night.

What does it mean then, “who minister by night”?

 On this point, the commentators went all over the place suggesting up two three possibilities,

  1. The Pilgrims often arrived at night time
  2. The Pilgrims often left early in the morning to return thus still night time
  3. The quietness of the night favoured a good time to catch the ear of God

I did not find any of these suggestions convincing to me so here is my theory or idea for you to consider.

First of all, it is clear that Temple activities by Levites and Priest did not stop at night as we see form a reference like Exodus 27: 21,

“In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come”.

 Or Leviticus 6: 9,

“Give Aaron and his sons this command: ‘These are the regulations for the burnt offering: The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and the fire must be kept burning on the altar.

 So, Levites and Priest would have had to work what we would call today, the night shift to keep those sacrificial fires burning and even the more mundane aspects of Temple maintaining went on at night as we see from 1 Chronicles 9: 26 – 27,

“But the four principal gatekeepers, who were Levites, were entrusted with the responsibility for the rooms and treasuries in the house of God. 27 They would spend the night stationed around the house of God, because they had to guard it; and they had charge of the key for opening it each morning”.

 So, worship of some sorts even took place at night suggesting to me that worship of the God of heaven and earth is not just a part time affair, only during the day but is a day and night activity God wants us to be committed to.

Maybe the writer of Psalm 134 by picking out the servants of the Lord who minister by night to Bless or praise the Lord is saying lets always be in an attitude of praise and worship. Paul makes this point to the Thessalonians in his first letter to them in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18,

“Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

 In all circumstances includes good times and bad or day representing and good time in life and night representing a bad, difficult or dark times in life. The test of our real faith is if we are able to give thanks or worship God in the difficult or dark times in life.

 I’m not advocating physical worship day and night but a life lived in an attitude of praise, thanks and worship like I referred to in Pauls words in Romans 12: 1,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship”.

4.   In the house of the Lord

We have seen all through the Songs of Ascent that the ultimate destination of the Jewish pilgrim travellers was Jerusalem and the Temple there. The Temple was to these ancient Jews, “The house of God” or to be exact, a house or dwelling place for the Ark of the Covenant which was God’s ordained symbol for his covenant agreement to dwell with his people Israel as indicated by Exodus 25: 22,

“There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites”.

 This is why the Tabernacle became known as the tent of Meeting and therefore the Temple became God’s house where God and his people met through his covenant of love.

It is clear that God did not really want David to build him a house as he said this to David through the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 7: 5 – 7,

“Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling.

Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’

 Isaiah makes it clear why God in principle maybe did not want an earthly house as all the nations around Israel would have had called Temples as Isaiah says this in Isaiah 66: 1,

“This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.
Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?Has not my hand made all these things”.

 Stephen in the New Testament in his final speech to the Jewish leaders before he was stoned to death took up Isaiah’s words to say this in Acts 7: 48,

“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands”.

 So why did God allow Solomon to build him an earthly house or Temple?

The answer to this question lies in the very words of Solomon at the start of his dedication to the nearly built Temple prayer in 2 Chronicles 6: 18 – 21,

“But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 19 Yet, Lord my God, give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence. 20 May your eyes be open toward this temple day and night, this place of which you said you would put your Name there. May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 21 Hear the supplications of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive”.

 Note what Solomon sees the Temple as, not God’s dwelling place or house but a house or Temple of prayer an intermediary place between God as his people and this is what Jesus saw as being so wrong with what the Temple in Jerusalem had become in his day with the money changes and fowl smelling and noisy animals for sale for sacrifice in the Temple.

Jesus says this as he with righteous anger clears the Temple in Matthew 21: 13,

“It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer, ’but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.”

 What is the house of the Lord for us as Christians?

My answer to this might surprise you but I base my answer on what the New Testament says about this.

First of all, Jesus made it clear that his coming and particularly his death and resurrection would do away with the Temple as we see from his words in Luke 21: 5 – 6,

“And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

 Jesus knew that in the very near future the physical Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed as it was by the Romans in AD 70.

Jesus also predicted that his death and resurrection would establish a new intermediary place or way between God and man as we see from two New Testament reference, John 2: 20 – 22,

“The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple,and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken”.

And 1 Timothy 2: 5,

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus”.

So, without the physical Temple as a house of prayer how do we go to God in prayer as Christians?

The answer to this is given so well by the writer to the Hebrews who says this in Hebrews 7: 23 – 25, using past Old Testament context to how we should now pray because of what Christ has done for us,

  “Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completelythose who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them”.

 Why do we as Christians always end our prayers in the name of Jesus?

It is because we go to God in prayer only through the Lord Jesus Christ and not through anyone else as Roman Catholics might teach.

Finally, what does the New Testament say about what is the Temple?

Paul made my most radical aspect to my answer to what is the house of the Lord on earth is when he writes in 1 Corinthians 6: 19 – 20,

 “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore. honour God with your bodies”.

 It seems up to the coming of Christ the house of prayer was limited to one place, The Temple in Jerusalem but through Jesus death and resurrection and the giving of his Spirit to all who have put their faith and trust in him God can now go into all the world through living Temples. We are therefore dwelling places of God on earth who take his message of Salvation to the world and act as his ministers of love.

When we travel to Heaven by faith in the Lord Jesus we are God’s special servants or ministers who offer God our blessing or praise.

  1. (vs. 2)   Lift up your hands in praise

The second verse of Psalm 134 speaks further about what we as God’s servants or ministers must do as we seek to worship him, that verse says,

“Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord”

 Again, the word for praise here is “Barakhi” or bless the Lord but it is a form of praise telling the Lord of the mighty and wonderful things he has done for us.

So as the Priests and Levites did this they were to “Lift up their hands” and Tremper Longman 111 points out that lifting your hands was,

“A common gesture of prayer in ancient Israel”

 It was an outward expression of what we should be doing inwardly when we bless or praise the Lord as David seems to indicate in his use of this expression in Psalm 28: 2,

“Here my cry for mercy as I call to you for help as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place”.

 The Most Holy Place David is speaking about here was in his day called, “The Sanctuary” as verse 2 of Psalm 134 calls it. This could mean that this Psalm was written in David’s time as the term Sanctuary seems to have changed to Temple once David’s son Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem.

I am not one who uses the raising of hands in prayer myself but that does not mean I think it is wrong to do but what is more important is what this lifting of hands means here in this Psalm which I found C.H. Spurgeon expressed for me the best when he writes,

“Hands, heart, and every other part of their manhood must be upraised, elevated, and consecrated to the adoring service of the Lord. As the angel’s praise God day without night, so must the angels of the church be instant in season and out of season. And bless the Lord”.

 Paul tells Timothy this in 1 Timothy 2: 8,

“Therefore, I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing”.

 Maybe I should consider adopting this practice of lifting my hands in prayer and particularly praise when I worship the Lord day or night.

2   (vs. 3)   THE LORD WILL BLESS YOU

  1. (vs. 3a) The Lord will bless you

As I said earlier this little final Song of Ascent has two distinct parts, us blessing God and God blessing us. Just like Rabbi Mardehai Becker theory of the Hebrew word for bless being very similar to the Hebrew word for the flowing or bubbling source of a pool or stream there is a flow between God and man when we come to him in prayer in the proper way and since the coming of Christ that is through faith in him.

So, the first part of verse 3 says,

“May the Lord bless you from Zion”.

 These words seem to be a blessing from the Priests who we were read about in verses 1 and 2 and for them to bless people from Zion means they are pronouncing this blessing form God’s special place on earth called Zion or the place where his house or temple sat.

This could mean that the last thing the Pilgrims to Jerusalem and the Temple there received from God before they left to return home was his blessing given by the Priests who served him in that place.

The priestly blessing God gave to Aaron and his sons to give the people which was also given through their descendants is in Numbers 6: 24 – 26,

“The Lord bless you and keep you;25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;26 the Lord turn his face toward youand give you peace.”’

 The Lord blessing from Zion is the Lord blessing his people from his dwelling place and as we have seen from references like Isaiah 66: 1 that is the Lord blessing his people from heaven where he actually dwells.

Zion in the New Testament is a loaded name place and represents heaven, the church and even Jesus the mediator of a new covenant as Hebrews 12: 22 – 24 expresses so clearly,

“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel”.

 So, what is God’s blessing on us as New Testament believers?

The answer to this is mind blowing and it is found in the writings of St Paul in Ephesians 1: 3,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ”.

 I have mentioned before my experience many years ago when two Mormon Missionaries came to my door and asked if they could enter my home to give me and my home a blessing. I said no and quoted Ephesians 1: 3 but they said to me, ‘but don’t you want our blessing”.

I replied I simply don’t need it as Christ has blessed me with every spiritual blessing from the heavenly realms. They then left muttering something like, ‘and he doesn’t want our blessing”.

Paul goes on in Ephesians one to give us a bit of a rundown of what all the blessing in the heavenly realm might entail in verses 4 – 9,

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonshipthrough Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 

 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ”.

 So, as we continue on our journey of faith that leads to God in heaven we are blessed by God through Christ and this blessing comes from him in the heavenly Zion and is what saves us, equips us and gives us hope and constant inspiration throughout this life so why would I want any more blessing than that.

  1. (vs. 3b) The Lord the maker of heaven and earth

 We have read the final words of Psalm 134 before in Psalm 121 verse 2 that simply says,

“He who is the Maker of heaven and earth”.

 In Psalm 121 we looked to our destination heaven pictured in the Old Testament as being in the Mountains or the Hills. We also learnt that when we face the difficulties in this life, the Mountains or Hills, then we have the help of the Lord who is the maker of heaven and earth.

Here in Psalm 134: 3 we are blessed by the same Lord who is the maker of heaven and earth. This gives the blessing he gives power and authority. David Guzik quotes a commentator name F.B Meyer who writes,

“Is it possible for him to have made heaven and earth, and not be able to bless the soul whom he has not created only, but redeemed! He cannot fail to bless those that bless”.

 So, we have this flow of blessing, we seek to bless God in Zion and from Zion God seeks to bless us. Jesus is that maker of heaven and earth as John spells out in the opening of his Gospel calling the pre- incarnate Jesus Christ as The Word, John 1: 1 – 5,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”.

 We learnt from Ephesians 1 that God blesses us from heaven through his Son, Jesus Christ who John speaks of coming to this world in John 1: 14,

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.

 We then who have received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour have received from God his grace and truth guaranteed by the fact that Jesus is the Maker of Heaven and earth and made our salvation possible by his death and resurrection.

We walk the way of faith to God in heaven because Jesus made for us that way to walk as we see from two final verses:

  1. John 14: 6,

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. 

  1. Hebrews 12: 1 – 2,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.

 CONCLUSION

 We have moved through the past 15 Psalms all with the title “Songs of Ascent”. 15 Psalms that we believe were sung by ancient Jews when they made up to three long and dangerous journeys a year up to Jerusalem and the Temple there.

We have learnt from these 15 Psalms about how that at every stage the Lord Jesus Christ is our helper and guide. We have learnt in this final Song of ascent that God wants us to bless or praise him and he promises that he will in turn bless us drawing on all his vast resources as the maker of heaven and earth to do so.

May we all come to the starting line of this great journey to heaven through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. May we continue this great journey to heaven through trust in The Lord Jesus Christ who promises to be with us even to the end of the age or the world. May we seek to bless him for all he has done for us and in turn receive his blessing that is so vast and wonderful and is more than we need to reach the shores of heaven itself where we will join with many other believers and the Angels in endless praise and blessing.

I close as usual with my original poem / song and a final word of prayer.

I’M HEAVEN BOUND

(Based on Psalm 134 and the tune of “I’m pressing on the upward way”)

 Oh, Praise the Lord you servants now

Yes, praise his love and mighty power

For he will bring us to his home

And no more will we have to roam.

 

Refrain:

 

Oh, praise him now day and night

Praise his power and his might

For through his Son salvation found

And through his death I’m heaven bound.

 

May all who minster for God

Be helped by him to upward trod.

For we must praise him day and night

And he will bring us into his light.

 

Refrain:

 

Oh, praise him now day and night

Praise his power and his might

For through his Son salvation found

And through his death I’m heaven bound.

 

Lift up your hands in joyful praise

For all the Lord’s great, loving ways

Look up to God in heaven above

And thank him for his wondrous love

 

Refrain:

 

Oh, praise him now day and night

Praise his power and his might

For through his Son salvation found

And through his death I’m heaven bound.

 

The lord will bless you every day

As you come to him and pray

He will bless you through his Son

Who made this world and every one.

 

Refrain:

 

Oh, praise him now day and night

Praise his power and his might

For through his Son salvation found

And through his death I’m heaven bound.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 Lord help us to look always to you in heaven above with praise seeking to thank you day and night for all you have done for us. We lift our hands in praise Lord for how you sent down to earth your Son to become a man and die for our sins on the cross. We thank you Lord for how you promise to bless us in Christ and we look forward to the day when because of what your Son has done for us we will live with you in your eternal home ever praising you as you bless us with eternal life. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

PSALM 133 TALK   UNITED WE STAND IN THE BLESSINGS OF GOD

PSALM 133 TALK   UNITED WE STAND IN THE BLESSINGS OF GOD

(GETTING TO THE FINAL DESTINATION OF THE JOURNEY OF  FAITH   UNITED TOGETHER FOREVER)

 (The thirteenth Psalm of the 15 Psalm series in the book of Psalms called “Songs of Ascent” which deals with being united before God and experiencing his many blessings together).

(THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

 GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 For an introduction to the Songs of Ascent see Psalm talk for Psalm 120

PART 3.   PSALMS 130 – 134 – PERFECTING THE JOURNEY

INTRODUCTON TO PSALM 133

 I usually don’t like jokes about heaven but this one is not only funny it has a very good point to it. The joke goes that a man dies and meets St Peter at the Pearly gates and Peter then takes the man into heaven to show him around. They first come across a large group of people with books in their hands with half of these people saying prayers that the other half respond to. The man being shown around heaven asks St Peter, “who are those people”? and St Peter says “they are our Anglican or Episcopalian Christians”.

St Peter and the man move on a bit further into heaven and they come across some people together playing instruments like tambourines and all kinds of brass musical instruments and the man asks St Peter, “who are those people”? and St Peter says, “They are our Salvation Army Christians”.

They go a bit further into heaven and come across people waving their arms in the air shouting out Hallelujah and Praise the Lord and the man asks St Peter, “who are those people?” and St Peter says, “they are our Pentecostal Christians”.

Finally, they travel on a little further into heaven and the man sees people walking around bumping into each other and other people but not acknowledging any of them and the man asks St Peter, “who are those people” and St Peter answers, “they are people who think that no one else is up here but them”.

As I said I usually don’t like jokes about heaven but the point of this joke is the way some Christians act and live in this life is that they alone know the truth about God and they alone will be going to heaven.

One of the joys of my life and ministry has been the fact that I have had the privilege of ministering and fellowshipping with Christians from all kinds of churches and denominations and on my recent short- term mission trip to Myanmar I taught the message of the Psalms to people in churches and Bible Colleges in Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal, Brethren and even a Seven Day Adventist Bible College. In all of these different Churches and Bible Colleges I experienced the blessing God gives to those who gather together united in The Lord Jesus Christ and his inspiring word to us.

I am often called “Brother Jim” and I have grown to like this title and often refer to and sing Richard Gillard song “The Servant Song” and the first verse that song says this,

“Brother, let me be your servant.
Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant, too”.

 Psalm 133 is short Psalm like a number of the Songs of Ascent Psalms but it might be short but it is certainly very beautiful and its central theme is “The unity of God’s People”. The Hebrew title says that David wrote it probably in his early reign when the unity of his people was extremely important as his country for the first few years of his reign as king did not recognise him as king only his tribe in the south of Israel, Judah recognised him as king. Then in 2 Samuel 5: 1 – 5 David is recognised even by the people of Israel in the North as the king of a united Israel.

Only David son Solomon would reign over both South and North Israel and experience fully the unity that Psalm 133 speaks of. However, as the people who did not live in Jerusalem travelled up to Jerusalem and the Temple there they would have travelled and joined together in Jerusalem as one Nation or in unity as this song encourages them to. I’m sure in those times of unity they would have experienced the blessing God promises us if we live in unity with other fellow believers.

My joke about haven is nothing more than a joke as all of our so called denominational differences will not exist in heaven and no one will be there bumping into people and not knowing they are there for all our often-petty differences will be a thing of the past in heaven. In heaven, we will be one people standing before the Lord united in our common love for the Lord Jesus Christ and the Father who sent him to earth to die for our sins on the cross that actually made it possible for all of us to be there.

My challenge to all bible believing Christians is if unity is what we will experience in heaven why don’t we experience it here on earth as we are all journeying to heaven by faith like the ancient Jews did when they journeyed together to Jerusalem and the Temple there?

Just as Paul said to the Corinthians who themselves lost this sense of unity even in the days of the early church in 1 Corinthians 1: 10,

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought”.

 With this theme of Christian unity in mind then my outline for this Psalm is:

  1. (vs. 1) HOW GOOD IS UNITY
  1. (vs. 2) HOW PRECIOUS IS UNITY
  1. (vs. 3a) HOW FAR REACHING AND REFRESHING IS UNITY
  1. (vs. 3b) HOW BLESSED ARE WE UNITED

 We will now look at Psalm 133 with these four sections in mind:

  1. (vs. 1) HOW GOOD IS UNITY

The first verse of this Psalm is dedicated to the benefits of the unity of God’s people and it reads like this,

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity”.

 David apparently according to commentators who know Hebrew say that his opening Hebrew word of this Psalm literally means “Behold” or “Pay attention” which means David is saying what I am about to say is very important.

So, what is David actually saying to his people in this opening verse?

Allan Harman sums the over- all meaning of what David is saying with these words,

“Unity in the family is extolled as a very precious thing”.

 I first experienced this wider sense of unity with Christians when I went to an interdenominational Bible College in my early twenties. Many of my Anglican friends asked me why I was not going to The Anglican Theological College and my answer was that I wanted to get a broader understanding of the bible and along with that have the precious experience of fellowshipping with Christians from a variety of churches.

Through my wonderful experiences of my three years of theological training at an interdenominational Bible College I became life time friends with men and women from Baptist, Brethren and Reformed churches and they helped shape me into a person who loves to work in unity with Christians from all kinds of denominational backgrounds.

Again, the actual Hebrew word for “God’s people” in this verse actually literally means “brothers” and this could mean both direct family associations but also distant family relationships as ancient Hebrews all would have had.

For us as Christians many verses in the New Testament speak of us as belonging to God’s family and we too are all brothers and sisters in Christ as the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 13: 1,

“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters”.

 And as John teaches in his first letter chapter 3 verses 1 and 2 that when we come to Christ by faith we are now children of God,

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is”.

\And Paul says we are children of God and therefore brothers and sisters in Christ through adoption in Ephesians 1: 5,

“He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”.

 So, what’s so good about unity in the family of God according to the first verse of Psalm 133?

David says that unity is both”

  1. Good
  2. Pleasant

So, let me explain what these two words or terms mean:

  1. Good

The word good in Hebrew Ray Fowler points out means something like “Excellent” or “Agreeable” or “Beneficial”.

When Christians act together or work together in unity they are presenting to the world the very nature of God which is love as Jesus told his disciples in this in John 13: 34 – 35,

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

So, Jesus wants us as his followers to be characterised by love and love can only be seen when we as Christians work together and appear to be working together in unity.

After my time at Bible College I worked as a church Youth worker and a few years after Bible College when I worked as a Church Youth Worker I experienced another wonderful experience of Christian unity when I worked with many Christians from many different denominations working together at the Billy Graham Crusade in my home city of Sydney Australia.

I think one of the reasons these amazing crusades where so effective was God was able to use them to show non – believers how Christians do both love one another and the world. It is sad that we only have a few times when we as Christians work together in unity for when we do it is very good or beneficial.

  1. Pleasant

David not only says unity is good or beneficial but it is pleasant which could also be translated as “Precious” and David Guzik writes,

“It is pleasant because it makes life together as God’s people so much more enjoyable than seasons when constant bickering and conflict dominate”.

 I’m sure we have all experienced Christians bickering and conflict and I remember at our church years ago two families had a nasty dispute over discipline. It seems one mother decided to speak strongly to a miss behaving boy in another family and the other boy’s mother overheard the mothers angry rage. Then both sets of parents bickered opening after church about this for a number of weeks. This was a very unpleasant thing to witness and it was very upsetting for our entire congregation. Our minister eventually was able to privately settle this dispute between these two sets of adults.,

 This is an illustration of the opposite experience David is speaking about in this verse for disunity is very unpleasant and is a disappointingly negative and unhelpful experience.

Why does the Christian church sometimes suffer from disunity?

The answer for me comes from an older Christian writer and theologian named Michael Griffiths who I had the pleasure of meeting many years ago at a large Christian conference. Michael wrote a book about the church called “The Cinderella with Amnesia” and in that book Michael advocated that there are two ways of seeing the church.

The first way is seeing the church as a museum of perfect specimens or the church is a group of righteous perfect people that meet together to worship a righteous perfect God.

The second is that the church is a hospital for sinners.

If you think the church is full of righteous people or people who think they are righteous and perfect then you will be sadly disappointed. For when some kind of conflict occurs in your church like we had years ago between those two Christian families then your faith in God and particularly your church could be shattered.

However, I agree with Michael Griffiths the church is not a museum of perfect specimens but a Hospital for sinners and sadly Christians can fall into sin both inside the church and out of it as well. The bumper sticker is correct, “Christians aren’t perfect just forgiven”.

In Romans 14 Paul deals with the problem of disunity in the Roman church. In Paul’s time its seems Christians had disputes over what should or should not eaten and what sacred days should have observed or not observed but Paul gives us advice on how we can maintain unity in the church when we have differences of opinion on non-essential Gospel issues.

Paul starts this advice with these words in Romans 14: 1,

“Accept the one whose faith is weak without quarrelling over disputable matters”.

 In verse 13 Paul lays down this charge which I find very helpful when I encounter other Christians who disagree with me and want to argue with me about it,

“Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put stumbling block or obstacles in the way of a brother or sister”.

 When I encounter someone with a different theological point of view than me who wants to have an argument with me about it I try and put my point forward to this brother or sister in Christ in a loving way but then I refuse to carry on the argument seeking to respect the opinion of my fellow brother or sister in an attempt to do what Paul says we should always seek to do in verse 19 of Romans 14,

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification”.

 The fact is I agree with David in Psalm 133 when he says,

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity”.

Give me unity any day and for the sake of it and its benefits I will continue to seek to avoid arguing with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ even if I think I am right and they are wrong.

2   (vs. 2)  HOW PRECIOUS IS UNITY

David then gives us two Old Testament vivid images of what unity is like and the first of these two images has the point of the preciousness of the experience of unity. David writes in verse 2,

“It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe”.

 Christian unity is not only good and pleasant it is also precious and this Old Testament image speaks volumes of that. To get the full impact of this Old Testament image or illustration I must explain a few things first.

The image deals with the anointing of oil which Tremper Longman III explains was used to,

“Anoint priests, kings and occasionally prophets to their office”.

 Longman goes on to explain that the oil,

“Represents the gift of God’s Spirit that would enable these important officials to exercise responsibilities”.

Ray Fowler cleverly pin- points the message of the illustration being the preciousness of unity which runs all through the way this image is presented. Let me take up Ray’s theory to open up the meaning of this image.

  1. The Oil itself is precious

The image is described as,

Precious oil”

 Oil particularly the special oil used in the anointing of Aaron (Exodus 30: 22 – 25) would have been both expensive and the products to make it rare to get a hold of. So, it is with unity among God’s people it is hard to achieve and therefore precious when you experience it.

I spoke earlier of the dispute between two families at my church years ago and how that dispute created a feeling of disunity. Once that dispute was resolved and the bickering stopped the feeling of unity again came back into our church and that was a very precious feeling. So, unity is precious and we all should work hard and prayerfully for it to be a living reality in our churches and within the wider Christian community today.

  1. It is precious oil spread on the head

This would have been a vivid aspect to this illustration of preciousness as the custom even in the time of Christ was that when you visited someone’s house you helped them wash their feet and for a special guest you would refresh your visitors head with oil.

We should be willing to anoint one another’s head with oil which is the image of humble service to one another because God has anointed our head with oil as Psalm 23: 5 says,

 “You (God) anoint my head with oil”

 This is an Old Testament image of God blessing us like a person anointing a special guest with expensive precious oil.

So, to anoint one another with oil is like Jesus washing the disciple’s feet an act of humble service to anyone and everyone but especially to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. So, if we fail to unite in service with our fellow brothers and sisters maybe our problem is that we lack both humility and the willingness to serve our brothers and sisters in Christ.

As Paul says in Colossians 3: 13 – 14,

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity”.

Unity is precious then like the act of anointing the head of a special guest to the home of an ancient Hebrew person.

  1. Running down on the beard

This is running down of the oil is said twice I think for emphasis and Ray Fowler believes this part of the image or illustration is speaking of,

“God’s blessings flow down to us from heaven”.

 Fowler then quotes James 1: 17,

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows”.

 Fowler adds,

“Living together in unity is a gift to be received from God”.

 If Christian unity is a gift from God then it is precious and we should thank God for it when we experience it. I thank God continually for my on- going opportunities for experiencing and promoting Christian unity.

  1. Down to the collar of his robe

This precious oil not only is poured on the head of the high priest but it runs down his beard and flows onto the top of his garments and David Guzik explains the significance of this when he writes,

“What abundant blessings unity is! It is like oil poured out so richly that it flows from head, to the beard, down to the very edge of the priest’s garments”.

 Unity among fellow Christians is very precious and it should flow down from God on to us and then out to each other and then on and on to the world at large.

Peter gives us the formula for how the church can experience the preciousness of Christian unity, the church working as one in 1 Peter 4: 8 – 11,

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen”.

 Note how Peter in this reference speaks of the gifts and grace coming from God but being shared out to others not kept selfishly for oneself.

  1. (vs. 3a) HOW FAR REACHING AND REFRESHING IS UNITY

The second image or illustration of the effects of God’s people experiencing unity is at the start of verse 3 which simply says,

“It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion”.

Like the first image or illustration of the effects of Christian unity this second one does not make sense to us until we realise some very real Old Testament realities that people living in ancient Israel would have known.

This verse uses two mountains in its illustration of the effects of unity of God’s people and both mountains are miles apart. Mount Hermon is in the very North of ancient Israel now on the border of Lebanon and Syria. While Mount Zion is in the southern region of ancient Israel in of course Jerusalem. Mount Hermon is a high snow-capped maintain with lots of dew or rain water while Mount Zion is a smaller dryer mountain to the south.

This means dew falling on Mount Hermon then falling on Mount Zion is impossible and is therefore an image meaning something. That something is I think two things:

  1. The far- reaching nature of unity
  2. The refreshing nature of unity

Let me explain:

  1. The far – reaching nature of unity

With the two mountains, so far apart in this image the good effects of unity in God’s family, the church is therefore pictured as being far- reaching as Ray Fowler again so well explains,

“The fact that Hermon and Zion are united by the dew in this image also reminds us that in the church we are all one. It is a unity of the great and small, the high and the low, the north and south brought together, it is unity that crosses all human boundaries and divisions”.

 I have been speaking about in this Psalm talk some of my own experiences of Christian unity and another one that stands out for me is the first time I attended The Christian Conference Centre at Katoomba a couple of hours drive west of Sydney and near where I currently live. As you walk into the very large auditorium there you see directly in front of you over the elevated stage where the speaker stands to preach a sign that reads, “All One in Christ”.

This sign really struck me in a very inspirational way the first time I saw it as I was there with many of my Bible College friends who came from many different denominational backgrounds yet we were all working together ministering to many young people and that feeling of unity in Christ was a wonderful experience I will never forget.

That sign comes from Pauls letter to the Galatians, in chapter 3: 28,

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. 

  1. The refreshing nature of unity

The second aspect of this image is its obvious refreshing nature of the image particularly for someone in or thinking of Mount Zion as that mountain was not only smaller than Mount Hermon but dryer as well. David Guzik explains this aspect of the image of unity well when he writes,

“It is like the rich dew that covers Mount Hermon, making it green and moist. It is an almost complete contrast to the dry wilderness found in other parts of Israel. Unity among God’s people makes life thriving and healthy”.

When we as Christians move out of our holy huddles and into the wider world we can have such an impact. I have visited churches all over the world and when I have had the privilege of sharing God’s word and joining in the fellowship with these sometimes-small church gatherings the refreshing nature of Christian unity is so wonderful.

Not too long ago my wife and I went on a road trip around Australia for over four months and every Sunday while we were away we went to church in the towns we were visiting. A lot of those towns were in remote dry and not so populated parts of my country Australia and many times members of the churches we visited spoke of how refreshing and up – lighting it was when Christians like us visited and worshipped with them. We were like the dew of Mount Hermon falling on dry Mount Zion to those Christian people living in dry remote parts of my country.

As Paul advices, the Philippians in Philippians 2: 1 – 4, which reveals how we should work on Christian unity with loving refreshing service,

“Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others”.

       4.  (vs. 3b) HOW BLESSED ARE WE UNITED

The final words of David’s little song on the value and impact of unity in the family of God sums up all he has been saying about unity,

“For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore”.

 I told the joke in my introduction about all the different types of Christians in heaven and how one group thought that non- one else was up there but them. This is a joke as the pictures of heaven particularly in the book of Revelations are of a great united oneness that knows no earthly divisions like denominations. Like the scene of heaven described in Revelation 7: 9 – 10,

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:“Salvation belongs to our God,who sits on the throne,and to the Lamb.”

 Note how this picture of heaven sees us united as one because it speaks of the vast multitude coming from every nation, tribe and language but speaking as one in praise of our salvation found only in God and the lamb which in the book of Revelation is name for The Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins on the cross.

David says that unity bestows blessing on us and this blessing and the unity that produces it is forevermore. David Guzik quotes here James 1 : 9 – 10,

“Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower”.

 He then writes,

 “In other word’s it doesn’t matter how high or low you are in the eyes of the world. In Christ we are one, and we have a special unity through Christ and the Holy Spirit”.

 One of the greatest causes of disunity in the church is what I call classism or snobbery when some people think they are better than others and look down on them causing a breakdown in unity in the Church. The reality is that in heaven there is no class or looking down on others.

The disciple themselves got heaven wrong when they asked Jesus about being seated higher in heaven than others in Mathew 18 and Jesus reply is quite radical, Matthew 18: 2 – 5,

“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me”.

 The Christian Gospel started to radically change society in the first century with slaves coming to Christ in big numbers and in the church and they were generally accepted as brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Gospel radically started to change the status of women which continues to this day. So, it is in the Christian Gospel message we find our grounds for common unity.

Like the ancient Jews travelling to Jerusalem and the Temple their unity and the oneness of being part of God’s family was good, pleasant, precious, far reaching and refreshing so it is for us travelling to heaven by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are eternally blessed when we stand and walk together to God in heaven. I close with one more reference on Christian Unity, Romans 6: 5,

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his”.

 I close as usual with my original poem / song and a final word of prayer:

UNITE US ALL IN-GOD’S LOVE

(Based on Psalm 133 and the tune of “The Old Rugged Cross)

 

How beautiful it is to live in peace

With those who love and serve the Lord

For our unity comes through the grace of God

Which transforms us by God’s life- giving word.

 

Chorus:

 

So, come to the Lord Jesus Christ

Who came down from heaven above

To die for our sins on the cross

And unite us all in God’s love.

 

How precious is the unity we share

In the God who sent his Son down to earth.

It’s like the oil of God’s holy Spirit’s power

Who comes in to give us Spiritual rebirth

 

Chorus:

 

So, come to the Lord Jesus Christ

Who came down from heaven above

To die for our sins on the cross

And unite us all in God’s love.

 

How far reaching is the unity we share

In the undeserved love of the Lord

For we can go to the end of the world and find

A love for God’s wonderful word.

 

Chorus:

 

So, come to the Lord Jesus Christ

Who came down from heaven above

To die for our sins on the cross

And unite us all in God’s love.

 

For united we stand in the love of the Lord

With our brothers and sisters, we will come

To the shores of a place where we’ll live for evermore

With God and our Saviour his Son.

 

Chorus:

 

So, come to the Lord Jesus Christ

Who came down from heaven above

To die for our sins on the cross

And unite us all in God’s love.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

We look to you Father up above to unite us all in your great love. When we are tempted to bicker and fight help us by your Holy Spirit to seek peace and love. When we see a brother or sister in Christ going the wrong way in life help us to lovingly guide them back to walking your way with love and care for them. When we feel disappointment, and hurt caused by a fellow Christian help us to reach out with love and forgiveness. So, may we all who love your word and your Son, The Lord Jesus Christ walk together united in our love for you to the shores of your eternal home where we will be together united forevermore. In Jesus name we pray this, Amen.

 

 

 

 

PSALM 132 TALK   GOD’S ETERNAL DWELLING PLACE OF REST

PSALM 132 TALK   GOD’S ETERNAL DWELLING PLACE OF REST

         (GETTING TO THE FINAL DESTINATION OF THE JOURNEY OF FAITH)

 (The thirteenth Psalm of the 15 Psalm series in the book of Psalms called “Songs of Ascent” which deals with the final destination of the Christian journey Zion God’s eternal dwelling place).

(THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

 GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 For an introduction to the Songs of Ascent see Psalm talk for Psalm 120

PART 3.   PSALMS 130 – 134 – PERFECTING THE JOURNEY

INTRODUCTON TO PSALM 132

 One of my first holidays overseas was in Fiji a beautiful set of Islands in the south Pacific. For the first week, we went to a large and busy resort on the main island but on the second week of our holiday we went to a small private Island actually owned and run by Australians. This tuned out to be my first experience of the kind of holiday where you sit around a pool with a cool drink and read a book and simply relax.

For the first couple of days I loved the rest and relaxation but soon I wanted to get up and do something. I even walked around the Island, which only took an hour or so and one day we went on a small boat trip to an uninhabited Island where we swam in super clear water and had a delicious BBQ on the beautiful scenic beach.

So, what is your idea of resting?

Psalm 132 deals with the twin ideas of resting and dwelling and speaks of David’s passionate desire to build God a house or Temple on earth a house or significant dwelling to place the Ark of the covenant in which is the symbol of God’s dwelling with his people on earth.

Then it deals with taking the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem and placed in what would have been only a large Tent called the Tabernacle. The Ark had been taken in battle by the Philistines who sought to give it back because it caused so many problems for anyone who had it in their town. Before David eventually got it successfully up to Jerusalem it spent a number of years in a place Psalm 132 calls “the fields of Jaar” which is another name for a place in ancient Israel called Kirjath – jearim.

The last part of the Psalm speaks of how God promises David a house instead of him building a house for him and God’s house for David is an eternal dynasty from which God will bring to earth The Lord Jesus Christ who will make the way for all who trust and obey in him to enter God’s eternal dwelling or resting place.

God’s eternal dwelling or resting place will be far superior to any earthly resting place like an exotic Island paradise like Fiji as when we are in it that resting place according to verse 16b,

“Her faithful people will ever sing for joy”

 This Psalm seems to be a Psalm written early in reign of the Davidic kings and could have been written by David’s Son Solomon or someone else in Solomon’s time as verses 8 – 10 are part of a direct quote from Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple he built in Jerusalem recorded in 2 Chronicles 6: 41 – 42.

So far as how it fits into a “Song of Ascent” is I believe in its subject matter about the final destination of the ancient pilgrim journeys namely Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the Temple there.

For us as Christians on the great journey of faith the ultimate destination is the eternal heavenly Zion or dwelling and resting place of God where we will find both eternal dwelling and rest. We will get there by trusting and obeying throughout our life the greater Son of David The Lord Jesus Christ who is the king of kings and Lord or Lords and our saviour.

With the theme of God’s dwelling place of rest in mind then my outline for this Psalm is:

  1. (1 – 10)DAVID’S DESIRE TO BUILD GOD’S DWELLING PLACE OF REST ON EARTH

 

  1. 1. (1 – 5)David’s desire to build God’s house or dwelling place on earth
  1. (6 – 10) Taking the ark of the covenant to God’s dwelling place

 

  1. (10 – 12)GOD PROMISE OF AN ETERNAL HOUSE FOR DAVID

1.  (11 & 12b) God promises to establish an eternal house for David

  1. (vs. 12a) A house or dynasty conditional on obedience to God

 

      3.  (13 – 18)   GOD’S CHOOSES ZION AS HIS DWELLING PLACE OF REST

 

  1. (13 – 16)God chooses Zion as his dwelling place
  2. (17 – 18)God promise of a future greater king and dwelling place of rest

Let’s then have a closer look at this Psalm using these headings,

  1. (1 – 10)DAVID’S DESIRE TO BUILD GOD’S DWELLING PLACE OF REST ON EARTH
  1. (1 – 5)David’s desire to build God’s house or dwelling place on earth

 To understand what these opening verses are really telling us I need to explain the historical events that led to them being written. David had become king of Israel and started to establish the nearly conquered mountain top city of Jerusalem as the capitol of the nation of Israel he now ruled.

Jerusalem story in the bible goes back as far as Abraham who met its king in his day called Melchizedek a mysterious character called in Genesis 14: 18, a priest of the God most high. Jerusalem was called Salem at that time and Salem means, “King of Peace”.

Then in Genesis 22 we have the story of Abraham taking his Son to Mount Moriah which is the old name for the hill in Jerusalem that became mount Zion. God stops Abraham at the last minute and provides a lamb for sacrifice.

Then we come to David’s time David conquered Jerusalem by defeating the Jebusites in 1052 BC/BCE (1 Chronicles 11:4-9).

David then goes on a massive building project which includes building himself a palace (2 Samuel 5: 9 – 12) and not long after this moves the neglected Ark of the Covenant up and into Jerusalem. The Ark of the covenant we will see represented the spiritual reality of God dwelling with his people Israel through his covenant of love an agreement between God and his chosen people Israel.

The Ark of the Covenant had been on the move, not resting for a long time but now it finally came to rest in God’s chosen place, Jerusalem on God’s chosen place of sacrifice, Mount Zion which we will see later was selected by God as the place of sacrifice in Abrahams day but also in David and Solomon’s day as well.

So, David now has the Ark of the covenant in what seems a temporary dwelling, the tent or Tabernacle with its inner sacred and holy place called The Holly of Hollies which is where the Ark of the covenant rests.

David argues that I live in a palace but God’s dwelling place is a tent so I want to build God a great house, dwelling place or Temple to house God’s special Ark of the Covenant.

This leads to our first verse of Psalm 132 that says,

“Lord, remember David and all his self-denial”.

 So, we can see these words are spoken after David’s time as the verse speaks of “remembering” David and as I said in the introduction this could have been written by Solomon or someone else around that time.

But what does the writer want God to remember?

This question is partially answered by what we read at the start of verse 2,

“He swore an oath to the Lord”

 An oath it seems concerning the building of a house, dwelling place, Temple for the Lord in Jerusalem as verse 5 says,

“Till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob”.

 This “self-denial” which has been also translated as hardships Allan Harman proposes were inward troubles as he writes in his commentary,

“David’s troubles or hardships endured were not outward ones but rather the inward of distress that the ark of the covenant was separated and that the ark did not have a permeant resting place”.

 We get a glimpse of this inner troubles of David from the words of 2 Samuel 7: 1 – 2,

“After the king was settled in his place and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, ‘Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent”.

 So, David was inwardly troubled that his God who he calls, “The Mighty One of Jacob” a name for God meaning “Warrior” used originally in Genesis 49: 24 is living in a tent while he lives in a luxurious palace.

This comes out even more in the words that our writer attributes to David as his spoken oath concerning this in verses 3 and 5,

“I will not enter my house or go to my bed, I will allow no sleep to my sleep or slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob”.

 These words show the depths of David’s feelings for the building of God’s house or dwelling the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant that David was able with the Lords help bring up and into Jerusalem.

The question David should have answered first was,

Does God want a house on earth or a dwelling to make his presence known to mankind?

The answer to this is two- fold and the first part of God’s answer to this question comes from the Old Testament and the second from the New Testament:

  1. Isaiah 66: 1 – 2,

Isaiah makes it clear that God lives in heaven and the earth is like the footstool of his throne,

“This is what the Lord says:“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.
Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?
Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?”
declares the Lord”.

 Stephen refers to this reference from Isaiah in his speech before his stoning with these words in Acts 7: 48,

“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands”.

 I have travelled through Europe a couple times now and seen many of its so called magnificent cathedrals and none of them have made me feel close to God and in fact for me they have left me cold and disappointed when I think of the money I believe was wasted years ago on such massive buildings.

Not that we don’t need fine church buildings but they should be practical, attractive and functional buildings that lend themselves to places to worship and service of the members of those churches and the communities they exist in.

The church I currently attend has just opened a very attractive and functional extension to what I call its multipurpose building and we are praying that it will be used to extend the kingdom of God in the community we live in.

2. John 1: 14,

The New Testament presents clearly that even though God does not dwell in buildings made by men he chose to dwell in the body of a human being to both reveal himself to us and use that indwelling as a means to save us and bring us to his heavenly home.

As John says in verse 14 of the first chapter of his Gospel,

“The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.

 The Greek word for dwelling in this verse could be translated, “pitched his tent” and other verses in this Gospel of John like 14: 6 speak of how Jesus, the Son of God become flesh and made a way back to the Father in heaven through his death and resurrection.

  1. (6 – 10)Taking the ark of the covenant to God’s dwelling place

 We will learn soon in this Psalm that David was not allowed by God to build the house for the Ark of the Covenant but David was led by God to bring that sacred object up and into Jerusalem to be placed in a large tent called The Tabernacle.

Verses 6 – 9 speak of this very event and I have broken this part of the first section down into three smaller parts:

  1. The transporting of the ark (vs. 6)
  2. The call to worship (vs’s 7, 8)
  3. The request for blessing of the worshippers (vs. 9)

Let me comment on each of these three smaller parts of this second section of this Psalm:

  1. The transporting of the ark (vs. 6)

This verse contains the names of two significant Old Testament places, “Ephrathah” another name for David’s home town Bethlehem and “Fields of Jaar” another name for the place the Ark of the Covenant was kept for a number of Years in the house of a man Abinadab who lived in Kiriath Jearim (1 Chronicles 13: 5).

Verse 6 then says,

“We heard it from Ephrathah we came upon it in the fields of Jaar”.

 My reading of 1 Chronicles 13 which deals with how David first tried, unsuccessfully to move the Ark of the Covenant up into Jerusalem suggests to me that David sought to rally the people together to bring the Ark of the Covenant up and into Jerusalem which is how verse 6 of this Psalm reads as well.

Allan Harman sees verses 6 – 9 as a call to worship and I see it as a call to worship centred on moving the Ark of the Covenant up and into Jerusalem. This call to worship starts in David’s home town Bethlehem or Ephathah right through the land to the very place the Ark of the Covenant was then resting.

2.  The call to worship (vs’s 7, 8)

This call to worship centred on moving the Ark of the Covenant up and into Jerusalem becomes much clearer in verses 7 and 8 that says,

“Let us go to his dwelling place, let us worship at his footstool, saying, Arise, Lord, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might”.

 We need to understand the Old Testament worship mind set of ancient Israelites to understand these two verses correctly.

In the time of Moses, the people of Israel when they were in the wilderness had at the centre of their worship The Tabernacle which was a large movable tent that contained the relatively small gold-plated box called The Ark of the Covenant.

Numbers 10: 35 tells us what Moses and I believe the people said whenever they packed-up the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant to set off to the next place God led them to,

 ‘Rise up, Lord! May your enemies be scattered; may your foes flee before you”.

 So, David is speaking like Moses about what he hopes will be the final journey of The Ark of the Covenant to its final resting place in Jerusalem, God’s designated place for his Tabernacle and under Solomon, The Temple and of course within these structures a small curtained off room called. The Holy of Hollies”.

I remember visiting a Medieval church somewhere in Europe which had a closed off front area you could only see into called the holy Sanctuary where only the priest entered to consecrate the bread and wine for communion. This idea falsely comes from the Old Testament Holy of Hollies which was broken down by Jesus death for our sins on the cross.

In the Gospel of Mark 15: 38 we read these words about what happened in the Temple in Jerusalem when Jesus breathed his last breath on the cross,

“The curtain of the Temple was torn in two from the top to bottom”.

 The writer to the Hebrews makes it clear that the concept of a Holy of Hollies for Christians has been superseded by the death of Jesus and his blood spilt there with these words in Hebrews 10: 19 – 22,

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water”.

 However, in David’s time worship was regulated through The Tabernacle and later Temple with regular on- going sacrifices directed to the Ark of the Covenant also known in the Old Testament as, God’s “footstool”.

 This Ark of the Covenant was then the symbol of God dwelling and being with his people and in all of the battles in the wilderness wanderings it went before the army of Israel leading them to victory thus the Ark of the Covenant at the end of verse 8 is called,

“The Ark of your might”

 These verses are extremely significant in the context of the Songs of Ascent being songs sung by Jewish pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem and the Temple there. They were answering David’s call to worship coming from all parts of Israel to worship in the Temple of Jerusalem, the resting or dwelling place of the Ark of the Covenant the representation of God with his people helping them in all sorts of ways including victory over their enemies.

3.  The request for blessing of the worshippers (vs. 9)

The Psalm writer then asks God to bless these Old Testament worshippers with these words,

“May your priests be clothed with your righteousness; may your faithful people sing for joy”.

 David Guzik explains the reference to the priests being clothed in God’s righteousness with these words which he quotes from a famous commentator known as Alexander Maclaren,

“The pure vestments of the priests were symbols of stainless character, befitting the ministers of a holy God. The psalmist prays that the symbol may truly represent the inner reality”.

 I have never been impressed by elaborate liturgical clothing and one day many years ago a high Church of England friend of mine took me to a church service at his parish church. After the service, he asked me what I thought of their way of worshipping God and my frank reply was that it was, “a lot of pomp and ceremony with little substance”. His reply really shocked me for he said, “Well you like to worship God in spirit an in truth but some of us like to worship God with smell and colour”.

 By the way “smell” referred to all the incense they threw around that day. Maybe wearing vestments and throwing incense around has a place but the danger in this kind of worship might be the avoidance of Jesus own definition of true worship found in John 4: 24,

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth”.

 In verse 9 of our Psalm 132 the writer here is calling for the priests to see themselves as not clothed in Old Testament vestments, which they would have been but more clothed in a right attitude of righteousness.

For the general worshippers then he wants God to help them to,

“Sing for joy”

Albert Barnes explains these words this way,

“The fact that there is a God, and such a God, and that this God is ours – that we may serve him, glorify him – is suited to fill the mind with joy”.

 This reminds me of Paul’s words in Colossians 3: 16 – 17,

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”.

 I’m sure the ancient Hebrews who travelled to Jerusalem and the Temple there did lots of singing and these songs and of course that means this song they would have sung with great joy and once there we will see God helped them make their worship even more joyful.

So, it is with us on the Christian journey to God’s heavenly dwelling or resting place we should worship with great joy and that joyful worship will be even greater when we finally get to heaven where we will join with other believers and the angels in endless praise and joy. 

    2.  (11 – 12)GOD PROMISE OF AN ETERNAL HOUSE FOR DAVID

  1. (11 and 12b)God promises to establish an eternal house for David

Our writer of this Psalm in the first half of this Psalm asked that God remember David’s deep and totally committed desire to build a house or dwelling place for his God in Jerusalem which we have learnt also meant a house or dwelling place for The Ark of the Covenant. This request gets another go with the words of verse 10,

“For the sake of your servant David do not reject your anointed one”.

This prayer request did not go unheard by the Lord but his answer would have been a surprise to both David and his people for it was not a house for God but a house for David and that house was an eternal dynasty of kings.

Verses 11 reads like this,

“The Lord swore an oath to David, a sure oath he will not revoke; “One of your descendants I will place on your throne”.

 But more than a one generation succession is promised here as verse 12b says,

“Then their sons will sit on your throne for ever and ever”.

 I will deal with the first part of this verse 12 separately soon but for now I want to point out that David swore an oath to God to build him a house or dwelling in Jerusalem and God answered that desire and prayer of David with a promise of an eternal house or dynasty through his direct descendants.

This is a reference to the words God spoke to David through the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 7: 11b – 13,

“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever”.

 Note how God uses the description of this eternal kingdom as “a house” as the verses before this in 2 Samuel 7 are a response to David’s deep desire and commitment to build a house for God which of course is technically known as a Temple. Listen to what God said about an earthly home built for him in 2 Samuel 7: 5 – 7,

“Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling,

Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’

 God seems to be saying he doesn’t want a house built for him on earth after all we learnt earlier form Isaiah 66: 1, 2 that,

“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?
Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?”
declares the Lord”.

 No, God’s intentions for his people is a land or a place for them to dwell in and the Ark of the Covenant was a symbol that God was with his people leading them, fighting for them and generally being with them in a spiritual way not a literal way like some Temple building and that is what God says through the prophet Nathan to David in 2 Samuel 7: 8 – 11a,

“Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 

10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies”.

 So, God swore an oath to David according to verse 11 of Psalm 132 and I believe this oath is expressed in the prophet Nathans words we have just looked at and we will see that in another surprising way God kept his oath to David of an eternal home or dynasty in that one of David’s great descendants was The Lord Jesus Christ and he is the inheritor of David’s eternal kingdom as the Angel tells Mary in Luke 1: 30 – 33,

“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

So, on our journey to God in heaven we must keep our focus on The Lord Jesus Christ and not earthly things like great buildings or ornate religious ceremonies or anything that detracts us from following him to our real eternal home, dwelling or resting place, God’s heavenly eternal home.

  1. (vs. 12a)A house or dynasty conditional on obedience to God

I have made the opening statements of verse 12 a separate section because they lay down God’s conditions for the promise of an eternal Kingdom for David’s descendants and they are expressed in these words,

“If your sons keep my covenant and the statutes I teach them”.

 The conditions or requirements for God’s promise are the same for Israel being God’s chosen people and we know from the rest of the bible both David’s descendants and their people generally failed to keep God’s conditions of the covenant of obedience to his statutes and laws.

Even in the example of David’s son Solomon we see a reign of two halves. Solomon starts out trusting and obeying God and does so throughout the early part of his reign with the building of the Temple in Jerusalem and its wonderful God centred dedication. However, as Solomon’s rule goes on he marries many foreign wives and they both lead Solomon and his people away from trusting in and obeying the God of the Bible.

At the end of Solomon’s life, we read this assessment and condemnation of his life and reign by God himself in 1 Kings 11: 9 – 13,

“The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. 12 Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”

 The United Kingdom of Israel only lasts through David and Solomon’s rule and Solomon’s son Rehoboam loses most of his Kingdom in a revolt by Jeroboam and he is only King of the tribe of Judah to the south centred in Jerusalem.

Worse comes to pass many centuries later when the Babylonians conquer Judah and sack Jerusalem destroying its walls and Temple and even worse killing the last of the kings in the line of David who had not kept the covenant of God and not obeyed his laws. It seems then that God’s promise of and eternal kingdom to David is lost. However, we learnt from the Angels words to Mary that a great descendant of David did inherit and establish God’s eternal home or dynasty as we read in Luke 1: 30 – 33,

“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end”.

 Jesus had to come for the Old Covenant had to be superseded by a new and greater one for the Old Testament story of Israel revealed that mankind is incapable of keeping God’s law to be saved so God had to step in and save us through the sending of his Son as Paul states clearly in Romans 5: 6 – 8,

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

 This death on the cross for our sins is the basis of this New Covenant a better way for us to come to God’s eternal home or dwelling place as the writer to the Hebrews points out in Hebrews 9: 11 – 15,

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

 15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant”.

 So, as we walk the way to heaven we must realise that this way was made only by the spilt blood of Jesus who through his death cleared the way to God for us to walk. Jesus then is the great descendant of David that The Old Testament called “The Messiah” which literally means “Anointed One” who has established the throne of David for ever and ever, an eternal throne that sits in very centre of God’s eternal home, dwelling or resting place known as heaven. 

    3.  (13 – 18)   GOD’S CHOOSES ZION AS HIS DWELLING PLACE OF REST

    1.   (13 – 16)God chooses Zion as his dwelling place

So even though God has told David he does not want or did not desire an earthly home he still institutes the building of a more permanent home or Temple for his Ark of the Covenant which verses 13 – 18 declare.

I see two aspects of this declaration of God concerning the choosing of his earthly dwelling or resting place:

  1. (13 – 14) God’s declaration of his chosen earthly dwelling place
  2. (15 – 16) God’s promise to bless his people through it

 Let’s then have a closer look at these two aspects of God’s declaration concerning the choosing of his earthly dwelling or resting place:

  1. (13 – 14) God’s declaration of his chosen earthly dwelling place

God now declares his choosing for an earthly home, dwelling place which is the final resting place of his Ark of the Covenant in verses 13 and 14,

“For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling, saying, This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.”

 Zion or its old name Mount Moriah gets God’s nod of approval as his special place on earth a number of times. I see this nod of approval of Mount Moriah – Zion three times in the bible:

  1. (Genesis 22: 1 – 18) When Abraham was tested and God provided the sacrificial lamb.

2. (1 Chronicles 21 and 2 Samuel 24) When David buys a threshing floor owned by a   Jebusite where the Angel of the Lord appeared in Jerusalem and withdrew his hand of death over David’s kingdom after David sinned by counting his fighting men which God had forbade him to do. Here David made a sacrifice to God and here David decided that God wanted the Tabernacle and later Temple should rest. These earthly structures would house The Ark of the covenant.

  1. (2 Chronicles 7) When God sent fire down from heaven to consume the first burnt offerings made in the newly built Temple there.

So, over a long period of time God reveals that the Mount Moriah later known as Mount Zion is the chosen desired dwelling and resting place on earth.

Mount Zion is also one of the bibles names for Jerusalem and this follows that Mount Zion is within the enlarged city of Jerusalem that David and later Solomon instigated.

Here God continued to choose as the place to reveal himself even through his Son, The Lord Jesus Christ who ministers and preaches there, rides triumphantly into and is eventually sacrificially killed there and of course rises from the dead there as well. Finally, from Jerusalem the Gospel message will go out into all the world as Jesus commands it should in Acts 1: 8,

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

And of course, Matthew 28: 19 – 20 expands this into “The Great Commission”,

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 This command was given to the disciple just outside Jerusalem and from there the Gospel message of how we can come to God through The Lord Jesus Christ went into all the world.

In the later parts of the New Testament Zion and even Jerusalem become symbols and even names of God’s heavenly eternal home for all believers and this is the very idea that the writer of the letter to the Hebrews speak of in Hebrews 12: 22 – 24,

“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel”.

  1. (15 – 16) God’s promise to bless his people through it

What we read in the next two verses is a natural follow on from the presence of the Lord on Mount Zion namely his blessing for his people through his in- dwelling presence in his people’s lives which I believe is symbolized by the Ark of the Covenant resting on Mount Zion. Verses 15 and 16 says then,

“I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor I will satisfy with food. I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her faithful people will ever sing for joy”.

 The provisions God promises to bless his people here with are physical namely food in verse 15 but interestingly this changes to spiritual blessings in verse 16 where the priests are blessed with clothes of salvation a greater blessing than righteousness in verse 9 of this Psalm.

God’s people are also blessed with spiritual blessing in verse 16 namely singing eternal joy again far greater than just joy in verse 9. Ray Fowler points out that,

“The New Testament tells us that these things are fulfilled in us today in our salvation in Christ”.

 Ray then quotes 1 Peter 2: 9 – 10,

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy”.

 We declare God’s praises today in this life to the world through the preaching of the wonderful Gospel message which Peter refers to in the words,

“Who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”.

 However, we look forward to an even greater day of blessing in the New Jerusalem where we will dwell intimately and fully with God forever as Revelation 21: 1 – 4,

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

 So as we make the journey to God like those ancient Hebrews journeys to Jerusalem and the Temple their we can realise God’s blessing on us that can be the meeting of our physical daily needs but are more prominent and wonderful in God blessing us with our spiritual needs beyond that we expected or even hoped for as Paul states in Philippians 4: 19,

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” 

  1. (17 – 18)God promise of a future greater king and dwelling place of rest

I mentioned earlier the Old Testament promise of “The Messiah” or “Anointed One” and here in these final two verses of this Psalm a fine example of that kind of promise exists as these two verses say,

“Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one. I will clothe his enemies with shame, but his head will be adorned with a radiant crown”.

 Ray Fowler explains these verses so well I will give you the main things he says about them in the following quote,

“The horn in the Old Testament is a symbol of strength. The lamp is a symbol for light and life and goodness. The crown here speaks not only of Christ rule but also his holiness”.

 Ray notes how the crown is radiant and therefore speaks of Christ glory or in the context of the Psalm the glory of the coming Messiah.

I read last year a modern Jewish criticism of Jesus being the Messiah and that went something like that Jesus fulfilled many of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah but not all of them so Jesus could not have been the Messiah.

The answer to this is that Jesus has to come twice to fulfil all the prophecies and do all the jobs the Messiah has to fulfil. For instance, he could not save us from our sins as the suffering servant and be a judge at the same time. So, Jesus came the first time to be the suffering servant Messiah but will come a second time after we have an opportunity to respond to his message of salvation as the glorified judge of all mankind.

As Peter refers to in 2 Peter 3: 9,

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”.

 So, these final two verses mix up the two comings of Christ as one coming as after all Jesus first and second coming are but one great event with two parts.

We see Jesus presented as a horn of salvation in Zechariah’s prophetic song in Luke 2: 68 – 75,

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.69 He has raised up a hornof salvation for us in the house of his servant David70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us—72 to show mercy to our ancestorsand to remember his holy

covenant,73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days”.

 Note even this prophecy mixes up Jesus first and second coming.

Jesus calls himself the Light of the world in John 8: 12 similar to the Messiah in verse 17 of our psalm “setting up a lamp”.

Then Jesus has victory over his enemies not in his first coming but through what he achieved in his first coming fulfilled in his second coming. As we read in many references in the New Testament but here are just two to give you a taste of what The New Testament has to say about Jesus defeat of sin, evil and his many enemies,

  1. Hebrews 2: 14 – 15,

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death”. 

  1. Revelation 17: 14,

“They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

 Finally, the radiant crown that adorns Christ head I refer you to the writer to the Hebrews again when says this in Hebrews 2: 7 – 9,

“You made them a littlelower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honour
8and put everything under their feet.”In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”.

 Note again the two comings of Jesus that makes it possible for him to be firstly made lower than the angels but then through what he did as Isaiah’s suffering servant on the cross rose to victory and has been crowned in glory with a radiant or glorious crown.

So, for the ancient Hebrews on their long journeys to Jerusalem and the Temple there this song of ascent we call Psalm 132 would have been a great source of inspiration and hope.

So, it is with us on our journey of faith to God’s eternal dwelling place in heaven this Psalm offers us great inspiration and hope.

Jesus has prepared a place for us and interestingly when he speaks of this great promise he uses the image of a home or dwelling place in John 14: 1 – 3,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.

 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”.

 I close as usual with my own original poem / song and final word of prayer.

MY RESTING PLACE

(Based on Psalm 132 and the tune of “There is a ship”)

David longed to build God’s house on earth

In Jerusalem where the Temple would dwell

But God for bade David’s hearts desire

And his Son Solomon did build it well.

 

Refrain:

 

The Lords does live in heaven above

And I long to be there with him

For this is my resting place

For in that place there is no sin.

 

David moved the Ark from fields of jaar

Up to Zion God’s chosen mountain there

And there he blessed his people with joy

For they came to him to sing and share.

 

Refrain:

 

The Lords does live in heaven above

And I long to join God’s people there

For this is my resting place

For in that place true worship we’ll share.

 

David did receive from God above

The promise of an eternal house

And through his line came the Lord Jesus Christ

Who came to earth to die for us.

 

Refrain:

 

The Lords does live in heaven above

And through his son we will live with him

For this is my resting place

A place that I will praise and sing.

 

The people gathered on Zions hill

God’s chosen place to worship him

From there his light shinned to the world

For the Gospel went out from Jerusalem.

 

Refrain:

 

The Lords does live in heaven above

And through Christ love there we’ll find release.

For this is my resting place

A place of joy and eternal peace.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

Thank you, Father who lives in heaven, above that you revealed yourself through your ancient people Israel centred in your chosen place of worship on Zions hill in Jerusalem. Thank you Lord that through the line of David you sent to earth your only Son who died for our sins overlooking Jerusalem your chosen place of reconciliation and through his death we have the gift of eternal life. Help us now to take the message of your love to the world as it began in Jerusalem and may we all look forward to the New eternal Jerusalem where we will gather with all who believe in you to experience true joy and worship for ever more. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.