|<< Psa 131|
Psalm 132-134 Listen
Following is an excerpt from Easton's Bible Dictionary regarding the subtitle found at the beginning of all three of these Psalms:
Song of Degrees: song of steps, a title given to each of these fifteen psalms, 120134 inclusive. The probable origin of this name is the circumstance that these psalms came to be sung by the people on the ascents or goings up to Jerusalem to attend the three great festivals (Deut. 16:16). They were well fitted for being sung by the way from their peculiar form, and from the sentiments they express. They are characterized by brevity, by a key-word, by epanaphora [i.e., repetition], and by their epigrammatic style...More than half of them are cheerful, and all of them hopeful. They are sometimes called Pilgrim Songs. Four of them were written by David, one (127) by Solomon, and the rest are anonymous.
A Song of degrees.
1 LORD, remember David, and all his afflictions:
2 How he sware unto the LORD, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob;
3 Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed;
4 I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids,
5 Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.
6 Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.
7 We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While not stated specifically, this Psalm was certainly written by David himself. It was likely used as a processional when the ark was moved to its new home in Jerusalem (Zion). As a matter of fact, you will notice that verses 8-10 here are incorporated into the prayer of dedication for the temple in I Chronicles 6:41-42 (see notes). Therefore, there's no question about the time frame in which it was written; this psalm is a tenth-century composition, celebrating the bringing of the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem (II Samuel 6:12-19, see notes). Zion (Jerusalem) was chosen as the capital of Davids kingdom and the center of worship. Incidentally, Ephratah (verse 6) is the old name of Bethlehem. You will also notice that David fully embraces his position before God as King of Israel, referring to himself as God's anointed (verses 10, 17).
We see an oath from David to God in verse 2-5 to find a permanent home for God in Israel. When David heard that God had blessed Obed-Edom, the guardian of the ark (II Samuel 6:12, see notes) after that unfortunate ark-transport accident, David immediately made efforts to bring the ark on back to Jerusalem. David then recites the oath from God regarding the throne of Israel in verse 12 when he reports, "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." Well...as we now know, Israel declined to hold up their end of that bargain. It will be restored at the time of the yet-future millennium when the Messiah shall once again establish the throne of David in Jerusalem.
A Song of degrees of David.
1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
Psalm 133:1, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" We are told in the subtitle that David himself wrote this one.
David compares the expression of unity to the sacred oil by which the priests were anointed. According to Exodus 30:22-33 (see notes) the oil prepared for the use in the tabernacle was a special, fragrant oil, whose recipe was not to be imitated for common use - only for priestly anointing. David gives a pretty vivid description of this oil in verse 2.
In verse 3, Mount Hermon is almost 10,000 feet above sea level. As such, the rainfall there is heavier than lower-lying areas, causing everything to grow better. Both illustrations are given to show the joy of unity among brethren.
A little recognition for the night shift (Psalm 134)
A Song of degrees.
1 Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD.
2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.
3 The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.
Here's another mention of Zion (Jerusalem). This one seems to be of Davidic authorship along with Psalm 133, but we aren't told who the author really is. Notice the focus of this Psalm in verse 1, "Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD." Who are the recipients of this blessing? The "night stand" (aka night shift). Those are the Levites who care for the temple during those night shifts. Given that this is one of those "Song of Degrees" sung by people on their way to Jerusalem for the festivals, it must have been an encouragement to these lonely night-shift Levites to hear these people sing a song of blessings upon them for the work they were doing.