Straight after a psalm by David we have one about David. As the pilgrims approach Jerusalem they look back at the founding of the Temple by David.
Or at least the previous temple. The psalms of ascent were compiled after the Jews had returned from the Babylonian exile, although like the previous psalm, thet could have been written earlier.
A song of ascents.
1 Lord, remember David
and all his self-denial.
2 He swore an oath to the Lord,
he made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:
3 ‘I will not enter my house
or go to my bed,
4 I will allow no sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
5 till I find a place for the Lord,
a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.’
6 We heard it in Ephrathah,
we came upon it in the fields of Jaar:
7 ‘Let us go to his dwelling-place,
let us worship at his footstool, saying,
8 “Arise, Lord, and come to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
9 May your priests be clothed with your righteousness;
may your faithful people sing for joy.”’
10 For the sake of your servant David,
do not reject your anointed one.
11 The Lord swore an oath to David,
a sure oath he will not revoke:
‘One of your own descendants
I will place on your throne.
12 If your sons keep my covenant
and the statutes I teach them,
then their sons shall sit
on your throne for ever and ever.’
13 For the Lord has chosen Zion,
he has desired it for his dwelling, saying,
14 ‘This is my resting place for ever and ever;
here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.
15 I will bless her with abundant provisions;
her poor I will satisfy with food.
16 I will clothe her priests with salvation,
and her faithful people shall ever sing for joy.
17 ‘Here I will make a horn grow for David
and set up a lamp for my anointed one.
18 I will clothe his enemies with shame,
but his head shall be adorned with a radiant crown.’
The Songs of Ascents or Songs of Degrees are calls from the world to God. In the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite, the Songs of Degrees make up the Eighteenth division of the Psalter and are read on Friday evenings at Vespers throughout the liturgical year.
Have it your way
“Have it your way,” is not just an advertising slogan for Burger King, it is also often the judgement of God. When people rebel God’s judgement is to let them have their own way.
Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed in the garden of Eden. After they had eaten the fruit they were told not to eat, they wanted to hide their bodies, and God said OK.
Samuel the prophet was Judge of Israel, but the people said, “Give us a king, so we can be like the other countries.” Samuel felt rejected. God thees Samuel, “They have not rejected you, they have rejected me.” but to the people who have rejected him God says, “OK. Have it your way. I will get you a king, but be warned …”
Jesus said, “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.” (Matthew 6:2 ESV.) You can’t earn your way into heaven. If what you want is wealth, fame and to be praised by other people then God says, “Have it your way.” You wanted Earthly praise, you have had it, you have had your reward.
In the film Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Ark of the Covenant, the place where God dwelt, had the power to wipe out armies. The story in the Bible is different, in the book of Judges the Ark gets captured. The people of Israel thought that if the Ark was present with them in battle then God would be on their side. They lost. They were wrong. Following God is not a superstition. There is no, “If I do this God must do that,” in haveing faith in God.
Psalm 132 is about the humility of a king. One who promised to build a temple to God. Although he made the preparations, the Temple was not built in his reign. His son Solomon was the king who had the Temple built and had the Ark of the Covenant placed inside. Whether Psalm 132 is about the Temple of Solomon or the second Temple, these psalms are a collection from the time of the second Temple, is not the issue, it is about the attitude of David.
David did not put his desires before God. David was humble before God in wishing to build the Temple, which showed in his attitude of not throwing a tantrum when God told him not to build the Temple but that a descendant would do it. The job, and the glory attached to it went to his son Solomon. But that was OK, David was not after glory for himself.
As Christians we have our own preferences, desires, needs, priorities and political preferences. That is fine. But all of that needs to be secondary to that of Jesus Christ who said that those who follow him must, “Take up his cross and follow, (Mark 8:34) We are supposed to have our lives changed into the image of God. If we see God as having the same preferences, desires, needs, priorities and political preferences as us, particularly if we see God as hating the same people that we hate or having the same prejudices that we have, then we have made God in our image, which is the wrong way around.