Thijs Booij, «Psalm 132: Zion’s Well-Being», Vol. 90 (2009) 75-83
Psalm 132, a text from the later pre-exilic time, is about the well-being of Zion and its faithful. This well-being, essentially David’s, is grounded on the presence of YHWH in Zion. It is realized when YHWH looks friendly upon the Davidic king. The first part of the psalm (vv. 1-10) asks for this favour on the strength of David’s hardships to find for his God a place to dwell. The second part (vv. 11- 18) is an answer to the first. The psalm is an introit-song, composed for the festival of Sukkoth. Expressing notions that remained important to the religious community, it was reintroduced after the exile to be used at the same festival.
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Psalm 132: Zionâ€™s Well-Being
Psalm 132 is a text which, in view of its content and its place in the psalter,
must have been important to the religious community of Zion. What exactly
is the purport of this text? What was its function in religious life? To find an
answer to these questions, different aspects of the psalm will be investigated.
Considered from a formal point of view, Psalm 132 is a well ordered
composition. It can be described as follows.
In vv. 1.10.11 and 17 the name of David is found. The repetition can be
taken as a twofold inclusion, arguing a division in two main parts: vv. 1-10
and vv. 11-18. There are data to confirm this division. First, both parts consist
of 10 distichs precisely. Secondly, an oath is mentioned at the beginning of
both. Thirdly, vv. 1-10 are in the main prayers and exhortations, vv. 11-18
mainly words of YHWH in quotation. Some take vv. 11-12 as a further ground
(after v. 10a) for the prayer in v. 10b (1). In their view, the text means to say,
Do not repudiate your anointed one, since God has made a promise to David.
The transition from second to third person (â€˜yourâ€™ â€” â€˜YHWHâ€™) does not
favour this reading. Another reason to reject it is the connection between vv.
11-12 and the verses following them. I will return to this point.
There is a special relationship between vv. 8-10 and vv. 13-18, to the
effect that the prayers of vv. 8, 9 and 10 are answered in vv. 13-14, 15-16 and
17-18 respectively. The relative length of the answering passages is in
harmony with their content, indicating a generous measure. In v. 8 YHWH is
asked to rise up to his resting place; vv. 13-14 declare that he desires Zion as
his resting place forever. Verse 9a is a prayer for the â€˜righteousnessâ€™ (qdx) that
can make the priestly service salutary (cf. qdx in Isa 11,5; Job 29,14); in v.
16a YHWH says that he himself will invest the priests with salvation ([vy). In
v. 9b it is asked that in Zion (2) YHWHâ€™s faithful may shout for joy; in vv.
15.16b Zion is given the prospect of lavish material blessing (Ëšrba Ëšrb, inf.
abs.) and exuberant jubilation (wnnry Ë†nr, inf. abs. again). In v. 10 God is asked
for the sake of David not to reject his â€˜anointed oneâ€™; in vv. 17-18 royal
welfare and victory are promised in David abundantly.
External parallelism and the pattern of textual coherence suggest strophes
of alternately two and three verses for the first part of the text (vv. 1-2.3-5,
etc.), strophes of two verses for the second (vv. 11.12.13-14, etc.). This
division is supported by the relation, mentioned above, between vv. 8-10 and
vv. 13-18, and the repetition of words in corresponding positions (bq[y rybal,
(1) Thus e.g. F. DELITZSCH, Biblischer Commentar Ã¼ber die Psalmen (Leipzig 41883)
813; E.J. KISSANE, The Book of Psalms. Translated from a Critically Revised Hebrew Text.
With a Commentary (Dublin 1953-1954) II, 273; J. SCHREINER, Sion-Jerusalem, Jahwes
KÃ¶nigssitz. Theologie der Heiligen Stadt im Alten Testament (MÃ¼nchen 1963) 103.
(2) See v. 16 and the use of dysj, â€˜faithfulâ€™, in Ps 50,5; 52,11; 116,15; 149,1-2.