When God spoke to David about building a temple, 3000 years ago, he promised to make a place of sanctuary for his people. “Wicked people will not oppress them anymore,”1 he said.
In that passage, the name God uses is still “Yahweh”, given at the time of the Exodus. The mission hasn’t changed either. He also calls himself “the LORD Almighty”, or, Yahweh/Lord of Hosts. It’s the same name Hannah uses when she cries out to God in the agony of her domestic violence: yet another person crying out against oppression.
God cares about the big picture – about safe communities, even safe nations. He points to Jesus here as a king who will finally treat people with humanity, and who will create places of sanctuary. But it is also crystal clear he cares about individuals. People like Hannah. And when David committed crimes against Bathsheba, Uriah and others, it’s clear God was furious.
Psalm 132 is David in his better times. There is much debate about David’s character, and deservedly so. But here in this psalm, we see an affirmation of the times he was willing to put others first despite his exhaustion. That’s not a narcissistic trait. David sang elsewhere of the requirements and benefits of safe places:
Trust in Yahweh and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.2
That echoes what God is saying here.
Wicked people will not oppress them anymore
The pilgrims are not far now from the place of sanctuary, and again we see the balance in the structure of the Songs of Ascents. Where Psalm 122, (a poetic buddy of Psalm 132), prays for the peace and prosperity of the place of safety, God responds now with a promise to create that safe place. It’s a place where even the poor will have enough: a place of justice.
God says his promise will not be revoked, but not all are welcome to share the benefits. It depends on their ethics. Just as he took decisive action with the sons of Eli, who abused their positions of power, he reminds those who abuse: their behaviour is a deal-breaker.
As the pilgrims draw close, they sing about this safe place – where there are boundaries in place to care for people – and remember God’s firm dedication to protecting the vulnerable.
That’s what we are called to also, and in the same way that David did not get a free pass to harm others, alignment with Jesus cannot share the same heart as love for abuse.
Cooperating with God in creating safe spaces
Creating the sanctuary in Jerusalem took hard work and boundaries. But when both were present, people thrived.
Yahweh, remember David
and all his self-denial.
He swore an oath to Yahweh,
he made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:
“I will not enter my house
or go to my bed,
I will allow no sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
till I find a place for Yahweh,
a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
We heard it in Ephrathah,
we came upon it in the fields of Jaar:
“Let us go to his dwelling place,
let us worship at his footstool, saying,
‘Arise, Yahweh, and come to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
May your priests be clothed with your righteousness;
may your faithful people sing for joy.’”
For the sake of your servant David,
do not reject your anointed one.
Yahweh swore an oath to David,
a sure oath he will not revoke:
“One of your own descendants
I will place on your throne.
If your sons keep my covenant
and the statutes I teach them,
then their sons will sit
on your throne for ever and ever.”
For Yahweh has chosen Zion,
he has desired it for his dwelling, saying,
“This is my resting place for ever and ever;
here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.
I will bless her with abundant provisions;
her poor I will satisfy with food.
I will clothe her priests with salvation,
and her faithful people will ever sing for joy.
“Here I will make a horn grow for David
and set up a lamp for my anointed one.
I will clothe his enemies with shame,
but his head will be adorned with a radiant crown.”3
Steve WadeIn the same way that David did not get a free pass to harm others, alignment with Jesus cannot share the same heart as love for abuse. Click To Tweet