- Renée Coventry
Covenantal Worship, Pt. 1 - Psalm 132
Psalm 132 is set up as a responsive reading. I feel the church has done itself a disservice by no longer participating in this activity because there is something sacred about remembering and being reminded that encourages and builds our faith, upon which the previous Psalm focused. This Psalm focuses on covenant and is the longest of the Songs of Ascent, so that I will divide it into two studies. One dedicated to the people's declaration, the second concentrated on the Lord's response to His people.
Remember, O LORD, on David's behalf, all his affliction; how he swore to the LORD and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, "Surely I will not enter my house, nor lie on my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.” Behold we heard of it in Ephrathah, we found it in the field of Jaar. Let us go into His dwelling place; let us worship at His footstool. Arise, O LORD, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength. Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let Your godly ones sing for joy. For the sake of David Your servant, do not turn away the face of Your anointed. The LORD has sworn to David a truth from which He will not turn back: "Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne. If your sons will keep My covenant which I will teach them, their sons also shall sit upon your throne forever. For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation.
The beginning of this Psalm is a remembrance of David's heart to create a place for God. The posture of any true worshiper is to cultivate a life where the Lord stands, a habitation that reflects a shepherd's hut or tabernacle. Psalm 95:7 and 100:3 remind us that we are God's people, His sheep, made and led by Him. The connotation is that we are preparing a place for God in our daily lives. This is consistent with the previous Songs of Ascent. It implies we will not quit or be satisfied until God is the center of our lives and the One around whom the generations revolve. Our covenant is not just about us, but those who come afterward – about them recalling the place we established for God in our lives and the example it sets for those who follow us.
Continuing, this Psalm mentions particular locations. Ephrathah means ash-heap, but also a place of fruitfulness. It is here that Rachel died and here that Jesus was born. Sometimes our most fruitful places are those built among the rubble and sadness of our lives. Also mentioned is the field of Jaar. This is a cultivated field, lush with verdure where bees create honey. The sweetness comes from the gardens established for us by those who've gone before. The lessons they learned become foundational to subsequent generations. They are our great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1).
Sacred is the remembrance of previous generations' struggles and victories. When we recall the faithfulness of God to past people of faith, it catapults our faith and can usher us into the throne room of God, enabling us to bow before His throne. From this place, we invite the Lord to arrive on the scene and rest there powerfully. God's resting place is never one of busyness. It is a place where we surrender and wait for Him to intervene and establish His throne amid our circumstances. He inhabits our praise, which we give fully trusting and resting in Him (Ps. 22:3).
In addition, strength lies in covenant relationship, yet it is not our strength but Christ's. The Apostle Paul tells us that God's power is perfected in us when we understand our limitations and weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9). It is in the context of relationship because we have accepted the atoning blood of Jesus that we are clothed with the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). In Him, we have the fullness of joy and can worship Him in the beauty of holiness.
Because of God's covenant with David, the children of Israel implore the Lord not to keep the presence of the Messiah away from them. However, they recognize that there is a prerequisite, an if/then statement regarding the throne. The people must remember the covenant and keep the testimony of the Lord. God, Himself is the teacher of covenant and testimony. He defines the terms, and we come into agreement with them. This is something that God awaits longingly – for us to remember the covenant. He is not ambivalent. He is decidedly waiting for us to return because it is here that God takes His rest and comfort. When we, individually and collectively, walk continually in remembrance of covenant and recall that we are Zion - God's dwelling place. He chooses us! He desires us! He wants to come and abide with us, not superficially, but in living, breathing reality.
This is the declaration of God's people: "Lord, we remember the covenant You've had with past generations and decide that we, too, will walk in it." Covenant is essential to ascending into God's presence. We'll explore God's response to His covenant people tomorrow as we continue Psalm 132.