Behind Ps 132 is the story of the capture of the Ark of the Covenant by the Philistines during Saul’s reign (1 Sam 4-6) and its return to Jerusalem by King David (2 Sam 6). The two cities mentioned in v6, Ephrathah and Jaar, are references to this story. Ephrathah was in the region of Bethlehem, David’s hometown. Jaar, perhaps short for Kiriath-jearim, was where the Ark remained after its return to Israel and before David finally brought it into Jerusalem. The pilgrims to Jerusalem rooted their prayers in the history of God at work among the nation.
Prepare to Listen. Light the pink and two purple candles. Be still and pray: Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the LORD (Is 51:1).
Prayerfully Read Psalm 132
1O LORD, remember in David’s favour all the hardships he endured;
2how he swore to the LORD and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
3‘I will not enter my house or get into my bed;
4I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids,
5until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling-place for the Mighty One of Jacob.’
6We heard of it in Ephrathah; we found it in the fields of Jaar.
7‘Let us go to his dwelling-place; let us worship at his footstool.’
8Rise up, O Lord, and go to your resting-place, you and the ark of your might.
9Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your faithful shout for joy.
10For your servant David’s sake do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
11The LORD 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.
12If your sons keep my covenant and my decrees that I shall teach them,
their sons also, for evermore, shall sit on your throne.’
13For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation:
14‘This is my resting-place for ever; here I will reside, for I have desired it.
15I will abundantly bless its provisions; I will satisfy its poor with bread.
16Its priests I will clothe with salvation, and its faithful will shout for joy.
17There I will cause a horn to sprout up for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.
18His enemies I will clothe with disgrace, but on him, his crown will gleam.’
In this, the longest of the Ascent Psalms, pilgrims re-membered two vows, one made by David to the LORD (v2), the other made by the LORD to David (v11). David vowed to build a house, i.e. a temple for the LORD. God vowed to establish a house, i.e. a dynasty for David and thus security for God’s people. The Temple, God’s dwelling place on earth, contained the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God’s presence, a reminder that God is a promise-making and promise-keeping God.
Claiming those sacred vows as their heritage, the pilgrims headed to the Temple calling to each other: “Let us go to his dwelling-place; let us worship at his footstool.” God chose, as deClaissé-Walford notes, “to settle down, inhabit, reside”  here among us very flawed humans. There is only one thing to do: Worship at God’s (not some human leader’s) footstool.
The pilgrims then make two prayer requests, both of which formed the conclusion to Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the Temple (see 2 Chron. 6:41). First, they prayed for the priests, that they may be clothed in righteousness, meaning salvation. Second, for themselves, the faithful worshippers, that they may shout for joy (v9). God, the God who made earth his dwelling-place, who makes and keep promises responded to their requests, promising to clothe priests with salvation (righteousness) and make the faithful shout for joy (v16). Righteousness and joy. They belong together and the Lord will give them both.
Today, in Christ we are all priests with direct access to God through Jesus and we’re all God’s people. More than ever we all need to be clothed in righteousness so that we mirror a truer reflection of God to world. And, after the devastating effects of covid-19, we need and want to be able to burst out in shouts of joy.
What caught your attention as you read this Psalm? What tugged at your heart? What perplexed you? Reflect on this in stillness and quietness.
Respond to Jesus
Lord I pray today for our religious leaders that they will be clothed in righteousness. I pray for faithful worshippers that they may burst forth in joy. May all your people be clothed in salvation and exude your joy in the world. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world, clothed in righteousness and bursting with joy.
 deClaissé-Walford, N, et al. The Book of Psalms. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014, p. 935.
I am convinced that reading the Christian Bible is essential for our Christian spiritual nourishment. I speak from experience, over 60 years of experience. I also believe we'll never get bored reading the Bible over and over. Each time I read it, I learn something new. Read with me during Advent and learn to wait for Christ with heart and mind alert for his coming. The readings draw on my background of study and teaching the Bible for over 30 years.