Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
A Song of degrees. LORD, remember David, and all his afflictions:The Song of the Builders
I. Let us gather from this portion some lessons touching preparatory work. 'Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions.' Look for a moment at the picture which is given us here of the aged king setting himself to his task. The historical book tells us that as soon as 'the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies round about' he began to think of building a house for God. He will put his own comfort second; God's service—which is but the noblest name for duty—first. Notice, too, that David's devotedness does make a plea with God. The prayer goes upon the supposition that his toil and self-sacrifices will not, cannot, be all in vain. And the prayer built upon that supposition is answered. God does not require perfect faithfulness in us His servants ere He blesses us with His smile; He does not need that the temple should be all complete ere He enters in. And consider, too, how God's remembrance of such preparatory work is shown. David saw no result from all his toils to build the temple. But none the less was it true that God remembered David and all his afflictions and accepted and crowned his work.
II. Thus we come to the second section of our Psalm, stretching from the eighth to the ninth verse, the prayer for God's blessing on the builder's work. The Psalmist asks first that God would dwell in the completed temple, and that the symbol of His presence may now at last, after so many wanderings, rest there. May we not from all this draw needful lessons for ourselves? And first as to the one great blessing which all builders for God should desire. We all think far too much of external activity, and too little of that Spirit who must guide and fructify it; too much of the institutions and too little of the indwelling God. And that presence is all which we need to make ourselves strong, and our work effectual. From this fundamental petition all the other clauses of the prayer flow. Taken together they are the sum of the Psalmist's desire for his nation, the ideal of what Israel might and should be, of what it certainly would be if God dwelt in it.
III. The final section of the Psalm contains the Divine answer, which more than fulfils the Psalmist's desire. The Church asks God to arise into His rest; and He answers by adding the promise of perpetuity; 'This is My rest for ever; here will I dwell'. The Church asks for robes of righteousness for the priests; and He replies with robes of salvation, which is the perfecting and most glorious issue of righteousness. The Church asked that the people might shout for joy; and He replies with an emphatic reduplication of the word, which implies the exuberance and continuance of the joyful acclaim. The Church asked for favour to the King; and He replies by the promise that the horn of his power shall continually increase, their light of guidance and gladness shall be always his, that victory over all his enemies shall attend his arm, and an ever-blossoming crown his head. Put this in its widest form and what does it come to but that great law of His grace, by which He over-answers all our poor desires, and giving us more than we had expected, shames us out of our distrust. For this law holds for us in all our works and in all our prayers.
—A. Maclaren, Sermons Preached in Manchester, p. 259.
References.—CXXXII.—S. Cox, The Pilgrim Psalms, p. 261. CXXXII. 8.—S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year (2nd Series), vol. i. p. 310. CXXXII. 9.—F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. vi. p. 237. CXXXII.—International Critical Commentary, vol. ii. p. 467.
How 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 for the mighty God of Jacob.
Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.
We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool.
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 turn not away the face of thine anointed.
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.
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.
For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.
This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread.
I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed.
His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.