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Jacob at Jabbok | The story of Joseph | I will make it again | The Shout of a King | Cyrus and Christ | Esther and our times | Be Still and Know | Arise into Thy Rest | Close your eyes for a moment
Bible study (West Wickham. England.)
Arise into Thy Rest

Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.
Psalm 132:8

"LORD, remember David, and all his afflictions:" Ps 132:1

So, with deeply touching feeling, does this beautiful song begin. "A man after God's own heart.." This was the description of David given by the Lord years before he was born. We know this because the words appear in Samuel's reproof of Saul in 1Samuel 13:14, because of his foolishness in running before the Lord, lacking, as he was, in faith. That incident, we are told at the outset of the chapter in verse 1, occurred just two years into Saul's reign. Paul tells us that Saul reigned 40 years (Acts 13:21.), and in 2 Sam 5:4, we read, "David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years." So we see that David was not yet born when Saul showed his unworthiness and drew forth the reproof from the Lord through Samuel, including this description.. (1 Sam 13:14) "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."

The wonder of divine foreknowledge had brought melody into David's life as he sang in Psalm 132, verse 16, "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 to the David class of this age, the members of the Lord's Anointed, His Christ. Everything that David sang in Psalm 139 was a confession based upon deep experience with his God. In verse 1, how intimately the Lord had known his every thought, and (verse 2) anticipated his responses before every circumstance. "O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. (2) Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off." Verse 5 tells that David came to realise that every step of his way was beset by the Lord Whose hand was there in each experience. "Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me." The nearness of the Lord became the central theme in David's life. Wherever he was, in the heights, in the depths, the Lord was always there, green pastures, still waters, dark valleys.. "Thou art with me.."

That wonderful mind of God, those precious overrulings, how great was the sum of them. These are the words of the Holy Spirit's prompting. They speak both of David in the flesh and of the greater David that he was used to foreshadow, Jesus, and the Church His Body. Here once more the Lord describes beforehand the experiences and testimonies of the saints during this Gospel age.. "It is written.." they were marked out beforehand "in the volume of the book." "when as yet there were none of them.." Another book has since been written.. a book of remembrance, written throughout the age, of those who fear His Name. So the request to remember David is a very touching one, as if the Lord Who has known all things from the beginning, and had beset before and behind each saint of God, and written each one in His memory, as if He COULD forget! What man remembers, how can God forget! He is not unrighteous to forget. Though a mother forget, yet will I not forget.. In reality, however, this remarkable plea is not a jogging of the Lord's memory so much as a clear statement of the relationship between the desire of David and the desire of Jehovah. It is a plea for a response already promised of the Lord. Therefore it is the claiming of a promise.

It is the claiming of a promise with great desire! This is a song about two vows, both pledged in love. (verses 2 & 11.) Ps 132:2, "How he sware unto the LORD, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob;" & 11, "The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne." The vow of David comprises the desires and endeavours of saints. The vow of the Lord reveals something wonderful about our God. These two vows form two sides of a bond, the most remarkable bond of all ages, a bond between the Lord and His people.

We do not know exactly when this song was written, nor for what occasion, but we can have no doubt whatever what the Spirit is saying to our hearts through these words. Solomon uttered what might be regarded as an echo of this psalm at the time of the dedication of the Temple. The psalm may not have been written then, but what Solomon said on that occasion certainly repeats the burden of the song. 2 Chr 6:41-42, "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. O LORD God, turn not away the face of thine anointed: remember the mercies of David thy servant." That event foreshadowed the very special time in which we, of all the Lord's people, are privileged to live. The saints, the David class of this age, have all but finished their course. The Lord is, even now, making up His jewels. With what depth of satisfaction did He cause to be written.. "They shall be Mine.."! What great yearning lies behind those words!

What is it about these people of God that make them to Him such a peculiar treasure? We find, perhaps, a clue in those words, "LORD, remember David, and all his afflictions:" The afflictions of the saints throughout the age have been many. Some of these we may glimpse in snatches of church history preserved for us, and what the historian misses the Lord remembers. In a special sense has the death of His saints been precious in His sight. For each thus proved faithful unto death He has a crown of life, but the death that mattered was that which took place long before that last breath, when the heart became dead to all else than that single desire represented here in David's longing, to "find a place for the Lord." While it was true that many things David was called to suffer were because of the Lord's claim when He took him from the sheepfold, there is also a special sense in which David's afflictions were self-afflictions, the self-afflicting of his own soul, that is, the earnestness of the intense longing to build a beautiful and worthy and holy temple for his God. David vowed a vow, he made a solemn promise to his God which revealed that utter singleness of heart. Ps 132:3-5, "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) for the mighty God of Jacob."

"Habitation" here is plural, denoting a worthy dwelling place, for this is a Hebrew language device to add quality or majesty. Between the cherubim wings above the ark was that depicting the Lord's shekinah, the presence of a great and holy God, but the ark was clothed only with a tent, a flimsy structure of temporary fabric, and David longed to provide for it a more permanent abode truly worthy of his God. The ark had remained for years at Shiloh, in the area of Ephraim which some scriptures imply was called Ephratah, and this may be the reference in verse 6. "Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood." The fields of Jearim, or of Kiriath-Jearim, the city of the wood, was the place in particular referred to in the account. Here the ark was to be found in the early days of David.

It is curious to note that during the period of David's life the ark never resided in the Tabernacle in its appointed place, the Most Holy. Eli's sons had taken the ark to boost the morale of the Israelites, who were not doing well in fighting off the Philistines, but the Israelites were defeated, and the ark was taken by the enemy. Seven months later the Philistines were glad to get rid of it, for it brought a two-fold plague upon the Philistines, the details of which we will not go into, save to say that the Lord smote them where it hurt! Oh! what a wonderful moment when the reapers of the Bethshemesh fields looked up from their labours and saw the approach of that ark drawn on a cart by milking cows who, under divine compulsion, and directly against nature, had left their crying calves to bear their precious load back into the territory of the Lord's people. The ark was returned from the land of the enemy, and the Philistines who had followed afar off to see what would happen, watched in great awe this sign of God's power. Both in wonder and delight was this sign parallelled by the raising of Jesus from the dead, the land of the enemy, to triumph over principalities and powers, making of them an open show.

After a brief respite at that place the ark was taken to Kiriath-jearim, where it remained for at least 70 years, until David had taken Jerusalem and sought to convey the ark to Zion as its permanent abode. The road from Kiriath-jearim towards Jerusalem leads constantly upwards as the mountains become higher, and this makes for steep and rugged ascent travelling eastward towards the sunrise and Mount Zion. The first attempt to bring it to its permanent abode met with failure. It was not the Lord's way. It was, in fact, the way of the Philistines, for the ark was again placed upon a new cart, a man-made construction, with oxen to pull it along. This was a movement not of the Lord, but of the world and of Satan, and it would end in disaster. As the jolting of the cart threatened to off-load the precious contents, a human hand reached out to steady the ark of God, and Uzzah became a son of destruction. Oh how wary we are of human ways and human hands in the things of God.

Papacy was such a movement, based upon the way of the Philistine with many human hands trying to control the things of God. Other similar examples were to follow. Why were such things allowed? If for o other reason it certainly brings home to the Lord's people the unspeakable privilege of that holy walk with God that was later depicted in the proper care of the Levites who, clothed in linen and in harmony with divine direction, bore the precious weight of God's glory upon their shoulders, treating with deep respect and awe this wonderful symbol of that holy presence. "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord." We who are perhaps the third generation in the Harvest Truth movement, it is not enough that our parents walked with God. The father of Uzzah for years had tended that ark and had known the blessing of the divine presence and favour, but that did not save his son. The walk with God is a holy walk as testified by saints of each generation. To us belongs the inestimable privilege of learning to live with the glory of God, a consuming fire of all unworthy, an overshadowing of the glory-cloud that envelopes and works its wondrous task within the heart of saint.

Remember David, and the way he afflicted his soul! It is our earnest vow, our chief concern above all other things of life, more than natural comfort or rest of body, to FIND OUT A PLACE WORTHY OF THE LORD. It is a life-time desire and work, yet what sense of immediacy it gives to set this as my goal TODAY. "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.." Oh what priceless privilege it is to know the Lord, and to walk, to 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? The Lord has provided the means of grace whereby the man of God may be "Thoroughly furnished.." furnished right through, in ways totally acceptable to the Lord of Glory. It is the Lord Himself Who beautifies His Sanctuary, but it is the fear of the Lord, that deepest reverential state of heart, that opens to Him the door. There are states and conditions even of the humblest human heart in which HE is exalted, in which He is given the highest place, given the honour and glory due to such a Being, and there He is happy to place His Name.

David was a man after God's Own heart. In his walk with God for years he had been laying up the materials of the permanent abode. In 1 Chr 22:5, we read David's words.. "the house that is to be builded for the LORD must be exceeding magnifical (magnificent), of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore NOW make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death." 1 Chr 29:2.. "I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God.." 1 Chr 28:11-12, tells us that the holy Spirit filled David's mind with the pattern of the things holy to God, "Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat, And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the LORD, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things:" In accordance with this pattern David prepared the materials.. (1 Chr 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." The zeal of David was the motivation for the most thorough endeavour, (vse 3) "because I have set my affection to the house of my God."

When Jesus encourages us to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, and to lay up treasures in heaven as our heart's preoccupation and delight, he speaks to the David class of this age. This is "the building of God, an house not made with human hands, eternal in the heavens.." of which Paul speaks (2Cor. 5:1.) David was given a pattern of what was to be after his death, after the earthly house of David's tabernacle was dissolved, and in that ancient Temple of God itself lies a pattern of the greater and more perfect dwelling place of God. We search the accounts of that Temple of Solomon, that noble edifice which was the answer to all David's desires. We try to picture the huge quarries in the twin hills of Jerusalem, Mount Zion, quarries that exist to this day, out of which the stones were wrought "in the lowest parts of the earth..". A labrynth of chambers remain, propped up against the passage of time. To produce the level table of the top of the mount involved the raising across the southern part a wall of solid masonry equal in height to our English church spires, and linger than York Minster. What sense of awe to look up that wall towards the temple building on the top.. and what a glimpse is thus afforded of the wonderful high and Spiritual Temple it was to portray.

Water supply was stored in vast cisterns hewn out of the solid rock, one alone holding a million gallons. Greater still the Source of that living water that would yet flow from the even grander Sanctuary depicted in Ezekiel's vision, waters that issuing forth from the threshold of the House of God, would increase as they flowed to transform earth's wilderness and turn sea of death to ocean of life.

The great pillars of brass at the porch call to mind the promise to overcomers of Rev 3:12, "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God.." One pillar was called Boaz, ("In him is strength..) "representing the Lord Jesus, as shown in the beautiful account and imagery of the book of Ruth, where the Moabite maid was received under the wings of the God of Israel and became the bride of Boaz. The call of the Gentile church to take her place at the side of her Lord in glory is there wondrously portrayed, a memorial to His grace and love and His ability to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with unspeakable joy. The second pillar had to be in all respects identical with the first, and the note of grace is en captured in its name, which means, "He will establish it."

The inner cedar walls were adorned throughout with cherubim, palms, carvings of lilies overlaid with gold and enriched with precious stones.. "the King's daughter.. all glorious within." Such was the house prepared by David and built at last by Solomon, a house of beauty designed by the Spirit of God and pattern of the eternal dwelling place of divine dimensions and celestial majesty and permanency. Such was the place to which, amid the shouts of rejoicing, the sounds of the music and singing, and amid the festive dancing bands of maidens, they bore the ark of God to its place of eternal rest. "And the glory of the Lord filled that place.."

Such is the setting of the psalm. Those strains of that distant spectacle of rejoicing have now long since died away. The scene lingers in the mind like flickering shadow, and such it was, just a shadow. Even the great glory of that Temple of Solomon was but a shadow, a pattern of something far greater and more perfect. Many years after its dedication the Lord said, through Isaiah, (Isa 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?" The size of the Temple stones could not impress the Lord... "For My hand made all these materials, and I brought them into being." They are all part of a material creation, inanimate objects. "But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word." Contrition, humility, and holy awe of the things of God, these are the adornments of the shrine of the Lord in which He delights.. a heart that counts Him dear and precious, "more dear, more intimately nigh, than even the closest earthly tie."

1Peter 3:15. "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.." Some texts say "Christ", but in the deepest sense in both cases is the thought, "sanctify Him as Lord in your hearts and lives." Find for Him that place, that worthy place of love, the uppermost seat, the place of honour and esteem, the centre of delight.. before I close my eyes in sleep this day.

David gave a wonderful display of the sheer joy and exuberance of spirit of one whose chief desire centred in the ark, the presence of God. The joy of the Lord overflowed each step of that steep ascent towards the full realisation of those earnest longings of his heart. 2 Sam 6:14-15, "And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet." After but few steps that joy poured forth in sacrifice, not perfunctory act of duty, but the full free expression of delight in the Lord poured forth in praise... "Glorify Thy Name." What a blessed type! If such was but a shadow, what of the reality! If David's joy was sweet to the Lord what is His response today to the offerings of His spiritual people! It is with delight that He hearkens and hears the expressions of joy in Him of those who reverence Him and who exist to please their God. Complete absorption in the things of God. Such is holiness.. the continual ascent of an offering wholly consumed, totally the Lord's. The burnt offering is particularly sweet to the Lord. It reveals a heart in tune with its God, that whether it lives or dies is the Lord's. The last of such offerings of this age are now ascending, and in them a glimpse of those "whole bullocks" yet to be offered, when, as willing offerings, the people yield their all to their Creator and Redeemer in the age now opening up before us.

1 Chr 16:7-8 "Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the LORD into the hand of Asaph and his brethren. Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people." Ps 132:7 "We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool." When the ark was brought to Mount Zion by David, and the offering of praise ascended, the time was come for the feast for all people, (1 Chr 16:3) "And he dealt to every one of Israel, both man and woman, to every one a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine." The harps and the cymbals and the trumpets filled the air with sounds of great jubilation.

Such was the atmosphere of joy and elation of the shadow. Today we live in the days of the reality. Ps 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." At this wonderful moment of all moments of all eternity our minds turn towards the Lord Jehovah. What are His thoughts at this hour? "Arise, O Lord, into Thy rest." Could we but fathom the depth of meaning of those words to the Lord God at this time. The Spirit now prompts this cry from the hearts of His people. It is for them to share something of the sacred wonder of what now transpires as the last stones of the Temple of God are slipped into place. How long has He waited for this hour! At what point in eternity past was it conceived? In divine timelessness the question is undoubtedly irrelevant, but it awes our minds to thus express the wonder of our babe-like minds. What is this REST of Jehovah God? Even in that very word He chooses is revealed the condescending heart of God, for He uses a term of meaning more to human frame than of divine. The word speaks of repose, cessation of activity, relaxation, as when God rested on the seventh day from His creative works, though weariness is not part of the divine being. That sense is what we add because of weakness of this human frame. Above all does the word "rest" speak of home, a place of love, where in its comforting warmth all is at ease, a blessed state of fulfilment. Such is the Sanctuary of God.

In the psalm the symbol of the divine presence is called the "ark of Thy strength." It is an interesting expression found only in this place and in the parallel portion of Solomon's quotation of the psalm. There is, however, one reference to the ark as "his strength" in Ps 78:60-61, which appears to refer to the taking of the ark by the Philistines, and explains that this was because of the people's unfaithfulness. "So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men; And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand." Christ, represented by that ark, is the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Herein, in the ark of God, lies the basis of His covenant, the means of its accomplishment, the principles of its establishment for ever, the total authority of righteousness, and promise of life everlasting. The sole contents of the ark when the Temple was dedicated were the two stones engraved with the Law of God. The stones that the Lord has been preparing these past two millennia, the hearts of His saints in which He has been engraving the principles of divine righteousness, are to become the basis of peace and joy forever. The preparation of these stones is now all but completed. Just a little chiselling and engraving work remains in the heart of those still below, but in those that rise beyond that veil the work is completed for eternity.

These are the Lord's executors, who have been prepared for the enormous task ahead, to carry forward the great majestic purpose of God to its full fruition. Ps 132:8-10, "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. For thy servant David's sake.. " because of the Head and Body members of that Anointed, that Christ, the "beloved" of the Lord, those who have manifested the spirit that compelled David each day in seeking a place worthy of the Lord. ".. Turn not away the face of thine anointed." With what poignant language is the blessed truth conveyed with such words. Between these precious sons and the father so much love has passed. Every experience of the way has been designed to bring them to the glory of this end, this object of their call and their whole course. They know, and He, the Father, knows, that there is NO POSSIBILITY WHATEVER, not even the remotest chance, having brought this Christ through the suffering of many things to glory, to now HOLD BACK from so wonderful a purpose for the rest of creation through this beloved elect. The Christ has been prepared to reign, to finish the work that the father has given them to do, and they will not fail nor be discouraged until they have set right all that is wrong in this earth.

The most dramatic moment thus far in all God's programme HAS ARRIVED! It is now with a great sense of inevitability that we enter this final phase of the redemptive programme. The Christ in glory stand poised for the blessed work and joy set before them. The ark of His strength now enters with the great God it enthrones into that last stage of union and most glorious oneness, and there is time no more. We have considered but the first half of this wonderful psalm which epitomises the heart attitude of saints at this hour of such great drama in the plan of God. The second half from verse 11 gives us the response of the Lord God to this cry of our hearts.

Verse 11, "The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. {This is the oath-bound promise of a God Who cannot lie. "That holy thing" which His Spirit has been producing within His saints is of royal lineage, born to reign both Head and Body members upon the throne of God. Rev 3:21, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."
12 If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore. ["Ah, they are of a royal line, all children of a king.. and Lo, for joy they sing.." These are the children of God, a God Who is faithful and true, Who never deviates or turns or backslides. It is His Own Spirit that has been at work in their hearts to produce in them the image of their Creator.]
13 For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.
14 This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
17 There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed.
18 His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.

Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.