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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78 Th. Booij
24,20) (11). â€˜Preparing a lamp for the anointed oneâ€™ is: conferring on him a
lasting kingship. Often, in poetic texts, the alternation of perfect and imperfect
is hardly indicative of relations in time. Occurring between the seven
imperfects of vv. 15-18, the perfect in v. 17b (ytkr[, â€˜I prepareâ€™ or â€˜have
preparedâ€™) is noticeable nevertheless. In v. 13 the perfect is used with regard
to the election of Zion (b ...rjb, â€˜he choosesâ€™ or â€˜has chosenâ€™; Hwa, â€˜he desires
herâ€™ or â€˜has desired herâ€™). The election of Zion and the founding of a lasting
kingship seem to be acts of the same rank. So in v. 17, in accordance with the
parallelism, the â€˜anointed oneâ€™ is clearly David, and the glory described in
v. 18 is Davidâ€™s glory. The descendants, however, continuing Davidâ€™s
kingship (v. 11), share in the ancestorâ€™s well-being.
The content of Psalm 132 may be described as follows. The first main
part of the text is essentially a prayer. It recalls Davidâ€™s self-sacrifice: that he
denied himself all rest and comfortable living in order to find a place that
could please his God as a dwelling (vv. 2-5). YHWH is asked to â€˜rememberâ€™
this in Davidâ€™s favour, that is, honour it, reward it (rkz with l, v. 1). Verse 10
complements the opening verse. Davidâ€™s hardships, if â€˜remembered before
YHWHâ€™, will benefit his descendant, the present king. YHWH will not reject
him, â€˜turning awayâ€™ his face (Î¼ynp byvh, cf. 1 Kgs 2,16-17.20), but will â€˜look
at his faceâ€™ (Î¼ynp fybh, Ps 84,10). A pre-condition of this favour is, however,
that YHWH accepts the place which the ancestor longed to find him (12).
Therefore, after a liturgical introduction (vv. 6-7), YHWH is asked to â€˜stand
upâ€™ to his resting place, Zion. If he is ready to do so, Zion will be a place of
well-being (cf. Ps 133,3); its priests will be able to good ministration and its
faithful will rejoice. The second part of the psalm is an answer. It recalls the
unchanging pledge that God made to David and the condition added to it: â€œIf
your sons keep my covenant and my decrees that I shall teach them, their sons
also, forevermore, shall sit on your throneâ€ (v. 12). This dynastic continuity
is grounded on YHWHâ€™s choice of Zion as his permanent dwelling: â€œFor (yk)
YHWH has chosen Zion (...): â€˜This is my resting place forever (...)â€™â€ (vv. 13-
14). The last part of the psalm sums up the blessings of Zionâ€™s election:
blessings of food, salvation, joy, and royal glory.
There is a close connection between the inner organization of the text
and its formal structure. Three links are to be noted. The first is Davidâ€™s
name encompassing both main parts of the psalm. In both parts David is
essential. The second link is the correspondence between vv. 8-10 and vv.
13-18, both of which first bring up Godâ€™s dwelling in Zion, then the welfare
of Zionâ€™s priests and faithful, and finally the well-being of Davidâ€™s house.
These are the things that Psalm 132 is about. Thirdly, there is the repeti-
tion of the root bvy, â€˜sit, resideâ€™, with d[Ayd[, â€˜foreverâ€™, underlining the
(11) The background of the metaphor is not likely to be a lamp that is always lit or is lit
all night, indicating that the house is occupied. See K. GALLING, â€œDie BeleuchtungsgerÃ¤te
im israelitisch-jÃ¼dischen Kulturgebietâ€, ZDPV 46 (1923) 33-37.
(12) Cf. FRETHEIM, â€œPsalm 132â€, 298.