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Psalm 132

Remember David

Seldom clear-cut, life leaves us wondering how much we can expect from God in view of our weaknesses and limitations. This psalm models the godly response of clinging to his promises, however weak we feel.

A song of ascents.

Remember David, Yahveh—
how, after all the hardships he endured
2 he swore to you
vowing to Jacob’s powerful God:

3 “I won’t go home
or lie on my bed—
4 I won’t go to sleep
or even shut my eyes—
5 till I’ve found the place belonging to Yahveh
that’s the home of Jacob’s powerful God.”

6 We heard about it in Ephrata
and then found it in the field of Ja’ar.
7 “Let’s go to his residence!
Let’s worship at his footstool!”

8 “Move out, Yahveh!
Move into your permanent home
you and the ark of your power!
9 May your priests be arrayed in victory
and everyone trusting you shout for joy.”
10 For David your servant’s sake
don’t turn your anointed one away unheard.

11 Yahveh swore an oath to David
one he promised never to turn back on:

“A son of yours
I’ll seat on your throne.
12 If your sons are true to my covenant
and live by the teachings I give them
then their sons in turn
will sit on your throne forever.”

13 Because Yahveh chose Zion
having desired it for the seat of his authority:
14 “This place will be my home forever—
the place I’ve chosen to sit enthroned.
15 I’ll provide for Zion generously
and give its poor plenty of food.
16 Its priests I’ll clothe in triumph
and make everyone faithful to Yahveh
shout for joy.
17 I’ll make the horn of David sprout there
and set a lamp burning for my anointed.
18 His foes I’ll clothe in shame
while the crown on his head will be resplendent.

David was far from perfect, but he did get some things right. Having been anointed king by Samuel, he endured many hardships while holding God to that promise. After finally being crowned king, he made an oath, putting God’s kingdom and God’s glory first. That self-sacrificial oath reflected his desire—seen even when he was a boy—to lay his life down at God’s feet.

David’s fulfillment of that oath was part of what led God to promise David a son and an eternal throne if his successors remained faithful. That promise kept David going to the end of his days. But by the time this psalm was compiled in Book V, everyone knew David’s successors had failed miserably, devastating his nation and dynasty. However, the fact that God enabled his people to rebuild Jerusalem inspired hope that he’d restore David’s dynasty too, making its end more glorious than its beginning.

God eventually revealed that glory on a crude Roman cross. Honoring Jesus’ faithfulness, he honored his promise to David too. But none of Jesus’ followers saw that because it didn’t look like the glory they imagined. We fall short like them and all before them. But thankfully, Jesus’ triumph over sin and death has made all God’s promises available to us.

Jesus, you proved yourself David’s true heir by wearing a crown of thorns. And God kept his oath to David by giving you authority over all. Help me cling to your promises and seek your kingdom first, however my story plays out. Let me know you and reign gloriously under you, I pray. Amen.

During your free moments today, pray this prayer:

For David your servant’s sake
don’t turn your anointed one away unheard.

Why Yahveh?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and occasionally transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Modern translations, likewise, either translate or transliterate it. While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it is more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. I’ve chosen to transliterate it to root it more firmly in the biblical story as the name—meaning the “self-existent One”—that God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. This name set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it in order better to hallow it. In transliterating it, I follow the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard. He advocated transliterating it as Yahveh—pronounced yah·vay—arguing that following the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish than Yahweh.
May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Robert Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.