"Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions."Psalm 132:1. It is with deepest feeling that this remarkable song begins.
"A man after My own heart..." This was the portrait of David given by the Lord. What is also remarkable is that this description seems to have been given years before David was born.
Saul had been foolish and had run before the Lord. In 1Samuel 13:14, the Lord reproves Saul through Samuel. At the beginning of the same chapter we read that this took place during Saul's second year of reign. Paul tells us that Saul reigned forty years. [Acts 13:21.] In 2 Samuel 5:4 we read, "David [was] thirty years old when he began to reign." So it seems that David was not born when Saul showed his unworthiness, and drew this reproof through Samuel. "But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him [to be] captain over his people, because thou hast not kept [that] which the LORD commanded thee." 1Samuel 13:14.
The wonder of divine foreknowledge brought melody into the life of David. In Psalm 139:16, the thought inspired the words; - "Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all [my members] were written, [which] in continuance were fashioned, when [as yet there was] none of them."
These are wonderful words, and they relate to the David class of this age, the members of the Lord's Anointed, His Christ. The whole psalm tells of David's deep experience with his God. Verse one, - How intimately the Lord had known his every thought. In verse two, the Lord anticipated David's response, even before the circumstances that would bring it forth. In verse five, comes David's moment of truth. He realises that every step of the way is beset by the Lord. " Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me." Here the word "beset" means to surround and to secure. The Lord's hand was there always upon David. It was there in the heights of his experiences. It held him tight in the very depths. It led through green pastures, by still waters. Nor did it forsake him in the valley of death's shadow. The Lord's dealing with His own, those wonderful overrulings, revealing His many thoughts; how great was the sum of them!
Thus did the Holy Spirit speak of David in the flesh. Thus, at the same moment, does it speak of the greater David class, The Christ, Head and Body members, that David was to foreshadow. As with David, even before the Body members were born, the Lord's "book" contained it all. "When as yet there were none of them," their character and fashioning was prescribed. "After My Own Heart."
Our own existence as human beings illustrates this mystery. Once I was nothing more than one tiny cell. Yet within that microscopic speck was a book. This book contained all the directions for my formation and my development as embryo, to the ultimate moment of birth. Forty weeks the messages went forth, directing each next stage of growth. "Sentences, paragraphs, chapters," so have the latest scientific findings described this wonderful programme in our genes. There were even commas, and full stops! Every hour the responses were monitored. Each phase was measured, prolonged as needed, terminated exactly when complete. Were it not so we would have extra long noses!
How wonderful this miracle of the birth of a babe. This greatest human experience was used to illustrate for us the way that the Lord brings forth His New Creation. The messages, directions from the book, - our responses. Every day of that forty weeks some further development takes place in the embryo. There are no lulls, no wasted periods. Every day of our consecrated lives is a day of our change. The Lord looks for our responses, just as He did with David.
Furthermore, another book has been written called a book of remembrance of those who fear His Name. So the request at the outset of Psalm 132 for the Lord to "remember David", is a very touching one. Could the Lord forget? The Lord Who had foreknown this "one after His own heart," could David now have slipped His mind? Who ordered every step, beset before, behind, and on him laid His hand, was memory now a problem with the Ancient of days?
What man remembers, how can God forget? Though a mother for a second forgets her babe, "yet will I not forget thee." The Lord is "not unrighteous to forget." So how do we understand this plea? Certainly not as a jogging of the memory of the Lord. Rather was it to exhibit that deep and close relationship between the desires of David's heart and the Desires of the Heart of God.
This psalm is a song about two vows, each a pledge of deepest love. From verse two we have to vow of David, from verse eleven, the vow of the Lord God.
Psalm 132:1 " LORD, remember David, [and] all his afflictions: 2 How he sware unto the LORD, [and] vowed unto the mighty [God] of Jacob;"
We do not know exactly when this psalm was written, nor for what occasion. There can be no doubt, however, what the Holy Spirit is saying to us through these words. When the Temple was dedicated, Solomon uttered words closely resembling this psalm. This may not mean that the psalm was written at that time, but Solomon found these words most appropriate for the occasion.
2Chr 6:41 " Now therefore arise, O LORD God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness. 42 O LORD God, turn not away the face of thine anointed: remember the mercies of David thy servant."
The dedication of the Temple was a type, foreshadowing this very special time in which we live today. The saints, the David class of this age, have nearly finished their course. Even this moment, the Lord is in the process of making up His jewels. This is a precious moment to the Lord.
"They shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels;" (Malachi 3:17.) We feel we may here detect great yearning, and in that prospect, a deep satisfaction in the heart of God. What is it about these people of God that make them, to Him, such a peculiar treasure? Psalm 132:1" LORD, remember David, [and] all his afflictions:" Remember the David class of this age, and all their afflictions. The afflictions of the saints throughout the age have been many. Of some of these we get glimpses in the records of history. What the historian missed, the Lord remembers. The death of His saints has been precious in His sight. Each one was faithful unto death, and for each was a crown of life reserved. But the death that mattered most was the one that took place long before the last breath. Consecration was in the Jordan of death. There each devoted soul became dead, dead to all else, but one single desire represented in this psalm, 132, in the longing heart of David. -- To "find a place" for the Lord.
David himself suffered many things resulting from the Lord's call. He was taken from the sheepfold to endure many hard trials in preparation for the throne. However, this psalm identifies for us the true nature of the "afflictions" here to be specially borne in mind by the Lord God. These were David's self afflictions, the self afflicting of his own soul. The following verses reveal the earnestness of the intense longing to build for the Lord a home, a place of rest for the holy ark of God. David yearned to provide a place worthy of the Lord. It must be holy, and exquisitely beautiful.
David vowed a vow. He made a solemn promise to His God. He sealed it with an oath. The language he used in verses 3,4, & 5, revealed a state of total dedication, and singleness of purpose. To express it simply, David said - "Surely -- I will not go home, or go to bed; I will not fall asleep, or even close my eyes, until I find a place for the Lord, a home worthy of the God of Jacob." Psalm 132:5 "an habitation for the mighty [God] of Jacob." Here, the word "habitation" is plural, and in the Hebrew this adds a sense of quality and majesty. This place must be different from all others, not merely a place, but a palace truly worthy of so great a God.
Until that Temple is completed, the Holy Presence of God, represented by the shining light of presence, or "shekinah", from between the cherubim on the sacred mercy seat. But the ark was housed in a tent, a temporary abode of frail fabric.
For years the ark had remained at Shiloh, in the area of Ephraim. Some scriptures equate Ephraim with Ephratah, and this may be the reference in verse six.
Psalm 132:6 "Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood."
The fields of Jearim, or Kireath-Jearim, also means "the city of the wood." Here the ark was found in the early days of David.
The designed place for the ark was in the holy of holies. However, during the whole period of David's life, the ark never resided in the Tabernacle. Way back in the days of Eli's sons, the ark had been carried into the battle field to boost the faltering morale of the Israelites. The Israelites suffered defeat, and the ark was taken by the enemy. Seven months later, the Philistines were glad to get rid of the ark. It had brought a twofold plague, the details of which we shall not go into, save to say that the Lord smote them where it hurt!
Then, what a wonderful moment that was, when the reapers of the fields of Bethshemesh looked up from their labours to see the ark approaching. It was drawn on a cart by milking cows, who, contrary to nature, had unheeded the cries of their calves to bear their precious load as directed by the power of the Lord. The ark had returned from the land of the enemy, and the Philistines, who had followed to observe afar off, watched with great awe.
There was little that happened to that sacred ark that lacks significance. The scene was of wonder and delight on the one hand, and of great awe and dread on the other. Surely this was parallelled by the raising of Jesus from the domain of the enemy, death. Truly does He triumph over principalities and powers, to make of them an open show of the greater power of God.
After a brief respite at that place, the ark was taken to Kireath-Jearim. There it remained for at least seventy years, until David had taken Jerusalem. There at Jerusalem was to be the permanent abode for which David longed.
The road from Kireath-Jearim towards Jerusalem is a steep and rugged ascent as one travels eastward towards the sunrise and Mount Zion. The first attempt to bring it up met with failure. It was not the Lord's way. It was the way of the Philistines, for the ark was placed upon a cart of human construction to draw it along by oxen. This represented a movement not of the Lord but of man and Satan. It was doomed to disaster.
The cart jolted over the roughness of the way, and threatened to off-load its sacred burden. Human hands reached out to support and steady the ark of God. Oh, how wary we must be of human ways and human hands in the things of the Lord! The Papacy was a movement based upon the way of the Philistines. It was a human endeavour to bring in the kingdom. Human hands attempted to achieve what the Lord had not designed. But Papacy was not alone in this. Many other examples were to follow.
Why were such things allowed? How it brings home to all the Lord's people the unspeakable privilege of that holy walk with God. A holy walk - We picture the Levites as, in harmony with divine instruction, they bore the precious weight of divine glory high upon their shoulders. Thus, with deepest reverence and respect, did they treat this wonderful symbol of the divine presence.
"Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord."
Many of us, dear brethren, are of the second or third generation of Truth people. It is not enough that our parents walked with God. The father of Uzzah had for years tended that ark, and had known the blessing of the divine presence and favour. This did not save his son. The unspeakable privileges passed to our generation call for the greatest awe and respect for the things of God. Everything, we must do His way. It is a holy walk.
Brethren, remember David, and the way he afflicted his soul. Is it our earnest vow, our chief concern above all else, to find out a place worthy of the Lord? Does this yearning desire consume us with the zeal of His house? More than any natural comfort, more than rest of body, does this longing claim our first attention, and direct our thoughts each day?
The dedication of David; does it describe my own part in that David class of this age? "He sware unto the LORD, and vowed unto the mighty [God] of Jacob; Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation [worthy of] the mighty God of Jacob."
What priceless privilege it is, to know the Lord! What a blessed company, who walk and dwell with that One Who inhabits eternity, and Whose Name is Holy! Is my heart a place worthy for such a Being? Can it ever be? Humanly, it is impossible. Yet the Lord has Himself a desire that it should be, and He has provided those means of grace.
The man of God is "throughly furnished," furnished right through, in ways that are totally pleasing to the Lord of Glory. The Lord brings His own furniture, but it is the fear of the Lord that opens the door. There are states and conditions of the humblest heart in which He is exalted, in which He is given the highest and most welcomed place. The honour and the glory due to His name is reflected in the wonder and awe of those who love Him. In such a heart does He find that home of love to which He is pleased to give His Name. "They shall be mine."
David was that man after God's own heart. Day after day, year after year, in his walk with God, he had been laying up the materials of the permanent abode. In 1Chronicles 22:5 we read "the house that is to be builded for the LORD must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death."
1Chr 29:2 " Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for things to be made of gold, and the silver for [things] of silver, and the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistering stones, and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance."
Chapter 28: verses 11 & 12, tell us that David's mind was filled with the Spirit, giving him a concept of the Lord's requirements. He saw in his mind a pattern of that glorious house of God, and in accordance therewith did he prepare the materials required. With great zeal did he do this because, (as 1Chr 29:3 states) "I have set my affection to the house of my God,"
When Jesus encourages us to set our affection on things above, to seek first the kingdom, to lay up treasures in heaven, He speaks to the David class of this age. Our stones, He has laid, of "fair colours," and our foundations of "saphires." (Isaiah 54:11) This is the "building of God," of which Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 5: verse 1. "an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
The Spirit of the Lord gave David a pattern of what was to be after his death, after the earthly house of David's tabernacle was dissolved. In that ancient Temple of God lies also a pattern of the greater House yet to be. Search with us the accounts of that Temple of the days of Solomon. View there the answer to all David's desires, the results, and the placements of the materials he had so painstakingly gathered together for that day. Picture in your minds the huge quarries in the twin hills of Jerusalem, out of which the stones were cut and "curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth." Picture the way in which the high peaks were reduced, and the low surrounding places raised up, to produce that high and holy place. A wall of solid masonry stood across the south of this mound as high as the tallest English church spires. Look up that wall from its base towards the Temple buildings that crown its top; what a glimpse of the wonderful high spiritual Temple this affords.
Water supply was stored in vast cisterns hewn out of the solid rock, one alone holding three million gallons. From what immeasurable supply shall those waters of life flow from beneath the doors of that Temple of God to turn the sea of death to sea of life.
There at the great porch one entered between the two pillars of brass. This is the Way for all mankind, into relationship and fellowship with God. One great pillar was named "Boaz"; meaning, "in which is strength"; the "power of God unto salvation." Undoubtedly Jesus is thus represented here. At His side, the other "pillar in the house of his God", stands His companion, "Jachin", meaning, "that which He establishes or sets" at His side. Here do we not see the Bride of the Lamb. Within the Temple the cedar walls reveal the inner beauty of those lofty upright trees of Lebanon. They are adorned throughout with cherubim, palms, carvings of lilies overlaid with gold, and enriched with precious stones. "The King's daughter is all glorious within."
Such was the house prepared by David, the Christ in the flesh, and brought into realisation by Solomon, representing the Christ in glory. It was a pattern of that which is greater and more perfect, with divine dimensions, and eternal permanence. Such was the place that, amid shouts of rejoicing, sounds of music and singing, and amid the festive dancing bands of maidens, the ark of God was borne into its rest. And the glory of the Lord filled the place.
Such was the setting of our psalm. Brethren, the sounds of that rejoicing have long since died away. Like a flickering shadow it has come and gone, for that is what it was, a shadow. Even the glory of the Temple of Solomon was just a shadow, a pattern for that which was to come. Many years after those joyous scenes of dedication, the Lord said, through Isaiah 66:1 "Thus saith the LORD, The heaven [is] my throne, and the earth [is] my footstool: where [is] the house that ye build unto me? and where [is] the place of my rest? 2 For all those [things] hath mine hand made, and all those [things] have been, saith the LORD: but to this [man] will I look, [even] to [him that is] poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."
What precious adornments, in His sight, are humility, contrition, and holy awe of the things of God. - A heart that counts Him dear, and precious, "more dear, more intimately nigh than even the sweetest earthly tie."
1Pet 3:15 "sanctify the Lord God in your hearts:" - Find Him a place worthy of all that He is. A God of love deserves the very centre of our love, the uppermost seat, the place of honour and esteem, Who is the source of our delight. "My son, give Me thine heart."
There is nothing cheap or tarnishable in the dwelling place of God, nothing paltry or unworthy. It is a place of delight, our delight, and His, in Whose presence is fulness of joy. All His delight is in His saints, and all their delight is in Him. Oh, to find in our hearts today a place worthy of Our God. - Before we close our eyes tonight in sleep.
David was enacting a beautiful type when he danced before the Lord. It was a wonderful display of the sheer joy and exuberance of spirit of one whose chief desire centred in the ark, the sacred presence of his God. It was a steep ascent, but each step drew nearer to that goal, the full realisation of the earnest longings of his heart. David's joy in the Lord overflowed. He lost sight of self, lost sight of everything, but this one absorbing prospect. He danced with joy before the Lord.
Each step upward was a step of sacrifice, a continual sacrifice of praise. 2Sam 6:13 "And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings. v14] And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod." Not from constraint, but with delight, did David offer before the Lord. Could the Lord be other than moved by this sight?
If that was but type, then is the reality even more precious in the sight of our God. Was that, indeed, but a foreshadowing of my own walk with God? The joy of the Lord, is it mine? Most precious evidence of the Spirit's anointing, it cannot be fabricated. It rises as incense from a heart enlarged, a heart touched with that deep sense of the fulness of God.
The delight of the Lord is with such. He loves dearly those Who have come to know and to love Him dearly. The fragrance stems from Jesus their Head, and identifies with Him. "I do only those things that please My Father." Such is holiness. It is the continual ascent of the sweet savour of Christ. It is a consuming, the smoke of burnt offering, our whole being ascending in thankful gratitude to our God. The age behind us was sweetened by such offerings of devotion and love. The age before us will bring forth further such offerings, whole bullocks, from a grateful world of mankind. This moment in time is graced by the last of the offerings of His saints. This is a precious moment to the Lord.
Psalm 132:7, "We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool." That verse, sums up David's song of praise recorded in 1Chronicles 16: verses 8 & 9, "Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works." This was on the occasion of the bearing of the ark to Mt Zion in the days of David.
It is as though we have two viewpoints of this sacred event. David, represents the Christ still here in the flesh. This is how we are privileged to realise what today is taking place beyond the veil. When the Temple is dedicated under Solomon, a further viewpoint is illustrated, that of the saints beyond the veil. Theirs is the sight of the true glory of that final abode. These two occasions, separated in time, nevertheless may be seen to synchronise in their reality.
When the Ark was brought to Mount Zion by David, the offerings of praise ascended high from many lips. It was a time of feasting for the Lord's people. 1Chr 16:3, "And he dealt to every one of Israel, both man and woman, to everyone a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine." And the harps, and the cymbals, and the trumpets filled the air with sounds of great jubilation.
And that, Brethren, that was just the shadow. To this very special moment in the whole of history, the time in which we now live, belongs the reality.
Psalm 132:8,9. "Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength. Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy."
It is happening now, as we speak. The ark of God, the vehicle of the Divine presence with His people throughout the ages, is entering into its eternal abode, His finished Sanctuary. The Temple of the Lord is all but complete. The last consignments of gold, silver, precious stones are all but laid up in heaven. The sound of the mason's tools in the quarry grows less, soon to completely die away. Amid sounds of greatest rejoicing the Lord surveys His finished work, and enters into His eternal abode, His rest forever, with His saints.
"Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength. Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy."
At this wonderful moment, our thoughts turn towards the Lord. He has waited so long. What are His thoughts at this hour? What deep divine emotions fill His heart? "Arise, O LORD, into thy rest;" Could we but fathom the depths of feeling confided in such language, words that poured forth by the prompting of His Own Spirit! Revelations lie here of the holy mind of God. These words are now put into our lips, who have been touched with a sense of that deep yearning of a Father's love. It is the cry of our hearts unto our God, at this sacred moment of His eternal existence.
"Thou, and the ark of Thy strength."
This expression is to be found only in this psalm and in Solomon's use of the substance of this psalm at the dedication of the Temple. Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Herein, in the ark of God, the Christ, lies the basis of His covenant. Herein lies the means of its accomplishment. Here embodied, the principles of its permanent establishment within the heart of each creature brought into oneness with His God. The power of God unto salvation, lies within the completed Christ. These are the Lord's executors, who, now fully prepared, will carry forward the great majestic purpose of God to its full blessed fruition.
Psalm 132:8 "Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength. 9 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy. 10 For thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed."
With what poignant language is the blessed truth conveyed in such words. Between these precious sons and the Father so much love has passed. Every experience of the way was designed to bring them closer. Every step was to prepare them for the glorious goal and object of the course. They know, and the Father knows, that there is no possibility, not even the remotest chance, having brought His Christ through suffering to glory, to now withdraw from this most blessed climax of the whole redemptive purpose. The plea, to turn not away the face of His Christ, is the most touching poetic language to express the certainty of fulfilment of His whole blessed design. "For this cause", Jesus came into this world. "For this cause", were called the followers of the Lamb.
And now the hour has come! The drama of the ages reaches fruition. The great wheels of divine purpose have come full turn, and with sense of blessed certainty we enter the final phase.
The Christ in glory stands poised for the blessed work ahead, the joy set before them in wondrous array. The ark of His strength is now entering, with the great God it enthrones, into that last permanent stage of perfect union, and glorious oneness.
What is the Father's response to the cry of His saints? In verse 11, the earnest vow of the David class is met by the solemn oath of the Lord. Psalm 132:11 "The LORD hath sworn [in] truth unto David; he will not turn from it;"
So long has He waited for this hour. We now approach that moment when there is "time no more."