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Psalms 132-134     Listen Podcast


Following is an excerpt from Easton's Bible Dictionary regarding the subtitle ("Song of Degrees/Ascents") 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, 120–134 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.

We're moving to Jerusalem (Psalm 132)

A Song of Ascents.
1 ¶ LORD, remember David
And all his afflictions;
2 How he swore to the LORD,
And vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob:
3 “Surely I will not go into the chamber of my house,
Or go up to the comfort of my bed;
4 I will not give sleep to my eyes
Or slumber to my eyelids,
5 Until I find a place for the LORD,
A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
6 Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
We found it in the fields of the woods.
7 Let us go into His tabernacle;
Let us worship at His footstool.
8 Arise, O LORD, to Your resting place,
You and the ark of Your strength.
9 Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness,
And let Your saints shout for joy.
10 For Your servant David’s sake,
Do not turn away the face of Your Anointed.
11 The LORD has sworn in truth to David;
He will not turn from it:
“I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body.
12 If your sons will keep My covenant
And My testimony which I shall teach them,
Their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore.”
13 For the LORD has chosen Zion;
He has desired it for His dwelling place:
14 “This is My resting place forever;
Here I will 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 I will make the horn of David grow;
I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed.
18 His enemies I will clothe with shame,
But upon Himself His crown shall 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 David’s kingdom and the center of worship. Incidentally, Ephrathah (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 your sons will keep My covenant And My testimony which I shall teach them, Their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore." 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.

Good fellowship is hard to beat! (Psalm 133)

A Song of Ascents. Of David.
1 ¶ Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the LORD commanded the blessing—
Life forevermore.

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 Ascents.
1 ¶ Behold, bless the LORD,
All you servants of the LORD,
Who by night stand in the house of the LORD!
2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary,
And bless the LORD.
3 The LORD who made heaven and earth
Bless you from 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 the LORD, All you servants of the LORD, Who 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.