When you look at a series or a group of anything, there are usually one or two that don’t quite fit into the category as neatly as the others do. They’re not outliers, but they stand out a bit. That’s Psalm 132.
It is different from the other psalms of ascent in at least a couple of ways (Mays). First there is its length. It can hardly be called long at 18 verses (about average for the psalms overall), but it is twice as long when compared to next longest psalm of ascent (122). Then there is the subject matter—David as he seeks a home for the ark of the covenant and a plea for the perpetuation of his throne through the Anointed One. David has been mentioned only once in these psalms and a few have been attributed to him, but Psalm 132 centralizes him.
We probably shouldn’t be surprised at this since David is a towering figure in Israel’s history and that is reflected in the psalms as a whole. Furthermore, you could make a good case for him being the one most closely associated with the coming Messiah (see Matthew 1:1).
Assuming the psalm was written after the exile (like 126), there would be no descendent of David on the throne. It would be quite natural for the pilgrims approaching Jerusalem to rehearse the stories concerning the ark and David’s throne. Perhaps the most important thing to note is that in doing this, the pilgrims were not merely looking back on the past glory of the good ol’ days—they were looking forward to the future unfolding of God’s promise. There’s a lot to be said for that.
I wonder how much we do of that these days. I read something recently that raised the question of how many of us look forward to the promises God has made when this life is over? They suggested that disciples seem to be no different than the world in clinging to this life as if there was nothing beyond it. Maybe it’s time to remind ourselves we’re not pilgrims on our way to Jerusalem, we’re pilgrims on our way to God.
That something to sing about.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)