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Psalm 132

The Eternal Dwelling of God in Zion

A Song of Ascents.


O L ord, remember in David’s favor

all the hardships he endured;


how he swore to the L ord

and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,


“I will not enter my house

or get into my bed;


I will not give sleep to my eyes

or slumber to my eyelids,


until I find a place for the L ord,

a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”



We heard of it in Ephrathah;

we found it in the fields of Jaar.


“Let us go to his dwelling place;

let us worship at his footstool.”



Rise up, O L ord, and go to your resting place,

you and the ark of your might.


Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,

and let your faithful shout for joy.


For your servant David’s sake

do not turn away the face of your anointed one.



The L ord swore to David a sure oath

from which he will not turn back:

“One of the sons of your body

I will set on your throne.


If your sons keep my covenant

and my decrees that I shall teach them,

their sons also, forevermore,

shall sit on your throne.”



For the L ord has chosen Zion;

he has desired it for his habitation:


“This is my resting place forever;

here I will reside, for I have desired it.


I will abundantly bless its provisions;

I will satisfy its poor with bread.


Its priests I will clothe with salvation,

and its faithful will shout for joy.


There I will cause a horn to sprout up for David;

I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.


His enemies I will clothe with disgrace,

but on him, his crown will gleam.”

6. Lo! we heard of it at Ephratha. This verse is obscure, and we need not wonder at the difficulty which interpreters have felt in ascertaining its meaning. First, the relative pronoun 131131     That is, the objective affix ה, which appears at each of the verbs in this verse, and which is translated it. By some it is thought that the antecedent is ארון, aron, ark, which, although it is generally masculine, is yet sometimes feminine, as in 1 Samuel 4:17; 2 Chronicles 8:11. Such is the opinion of Dr. Lightfoot, who explains the verse thus: “We heard of it (the ark) in Ephratah, (that is, Shiloh,) a city of Ephraim; we found it in the fields of the wood, that is in Kirjath-jearim. 1 Samuel 7:1,” etc. (Lightfoot’s Chorogr. Cent., c. 45.) Others consider the הto refer to habitations, in the preceding verse; and though that noun is in the plural, it is, as noticed in a preceding note, put by enallage for the singular. Rosenmuller thinks this opinion ­ which is the one adopted by Calvin ­ the more probable and no doubt at first sight the most obvious meaning is, that the pronoun it refers to the spot which David had discovered as a suitable place on which to erect the house of God. Walford, indeed, objects that “this cannot be intended, because the site of the Temple was neither at Ephratah, nor in the fields of the wood, or of Jaar;” and he gives at some length an ingenious explanation of this difficult passage, extracted chiefly from the German writer Tilingius. This objection, it will be perceived, is removed by one of the expositions suggested by Calvin, which supposes that the allusion is first to a report of Ephratha being the place where the Temple was to be built; and next to the certain information which the people of Israel afterwards obtained that Jerusalem was the spot which God himself had selected. Whether this however is the correct explanation of the verse, it is not so easy to determine. being of the feminine gender has no antecedent, and we are forced to suppose that it must refer to the word habitation in the foregoing sentence, although there it reads habitations, in the plural number. But the principal difficulty lies in the word Ephratha, because the Ark of the Covenant was never placed there. If the reference be to past time, Shiloh should have been the place mentioned; but as it is plain the Psalmist speaks of its new residence, the question returns, why Ephratha and not Zion is specified? Some would get rid of the difficulty by resorting to a frivolous conceit, That the place had two names, and that the plat of ground which was shown to David (2 Samuel 24:18; 1 Chronicles 21:18) was called Ephratha, because it was fertile, on which account Jerome styles it καρποφοριαν, and yet is not very consistent with himself, for in another place, when he gets into his allegories, he most absurdly interprets it to mean frenzy. I have no doubt whatever that the word comes from פרהparah, which means to bear fruit; just as Bethlehem, which is situated in the same quarter, was called for its fruitfulness “the house of bread.” But any conjecture founded upon the mere name of the place is necessarily unsatisfactory, and we must seek some more probable explanation. I might begin by mentioning one which is not without force. A rumor had spread that the Ark of the Covenant was to be deposited in Ephratha, which was the place of David’s nativity 132132     Bethlehem, the place of David’s nativity, is called Ephratha in Genesis 35:19. , and we may suppose at least that his native soil would seem to many the most appropriate locality for the Ark and Sanctuary. We can easily understand how such an opinion should get abroad. In that case the hearing referred to by the Psalmist alludes to the report which had been circulated. Should this be taken as the meaning, the verb would be in the pluperfect tense, we HAD heard that it was in Ephratha, but we found it in the woods, that is, in a place by no means so attractive or well cultivated. Jerusalem might be said to be woody, because we know that it was surrounded by mountains, and that it was by no means in a part of the country which was noted for fruitfulness. There is another meaning which I would submit to the judgment of the reader. Let us suppose that the faithful here say that they had heard of its being in Ephratha, because God had spoken still greater things of Ephratha than of Zion. It is true that the memorable prediction (Micah 5:2) had not yet been given, yet it may have been that God had already issued some very great and signal prophecy regarding Bethlehem. We have heard, as if they had said, of Bethlehem, but it is only as yet a dim expectation which we have in reference to that place, and in the meantime we must worship God in this place of the woods, looking forward to the fulfillment of the promise regarding Ephratha. This interpretation, however, is far fetched, nor would I venture to adopt it, or at least recommend it to others as the right one. The simpler way seems to be to understand the word Ephratha as applying to David personally, and not so much to the place of that name, the declaration of the Psalmist being to this effect ­ that now when God had chosen a king from Ephratha, the place would necessarily at the same time be marked out for the Ark of the Covenant. It is said, have heard, for the fixing of the place of the Sanctuary depended upon the will of God; nor until this was declared could men determine it according to their own fancy. The fact that now upon David’s mounting the throne this illustrious oracle concerning the permanent settlement of the Temple was to take effect, afforded good ground of thanksgiving. We have proof here that the people of God did not deposit the Ark at random in any place, but had express directions from God himself as to the place where he would be worshipped ­ all proper worship proceeding from faith, while faith cometh by hearing. (Romans 10:17.) Mount Zion had no peculiar excellencies almost to recommend it; but having once heard that it was the object of God’s choice, they show that they consider it wrong to call the matter in question.

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