Psalm 132:15-18 (NIV)
15 I’ll shower blessings on the pilgrims who come here, and give supper to those who arrive hungry; 16 I’ll dress my priests in salvation clothes; the holy people will sing their hearts out! 17 Oh, I’ll make the place radiant for David! I’ll fill it with light for my anointed! 18 I’ll dress his enemies in dirty rags, but I’ll make his crown sparkle with splendor.
“If we define the nature of our lives by the mistake of the moment or the defeat of the hour or the boredom of the day, we will define it wrongly. We need roots in the past to give obedience ballast and breadth; we need a vision of the future to give obedience direction and goal. And they must be connected. There must be an organic unity between them.” [Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p. 163]
In Psalm 132:15-18, each verse speaks of a future reality based on the history of God among his people. Answer the questions below to give “root” to our present obedience in the future hope of God’s promises.
Verse 15: What are some prominent examples of God’s provision from Israel’s history?
Verse 16: How does worship and sacrifice expand our vision of obedience?
Verse 17: What are ways that God’s light or glory acted for God’s people? How does this relate to our present-day obedience?
Verse 18: Let’s pray for God’s kingdom to come quickly in our lives and our communities.
Psalm 132:13-14 (MSG)
Yes—I, God, chose Zion, the place I wanted for my shrine; This will always be my home; this is what I want, and I’m here for good.
“But Psalm132 doesn’t just keep our feet on the ground, it also gets them off the ground. Not only is it a solid foundation for the past, it is a daring leap into the future. For obedience is not a stodgy plodding in the ruts of religion, it is a hopeful race toward God’s promises. The second half of the psalm has a propellant quality to it. The psalmist is not an antiquarian reveling in the past for its own sake but a traveler using what he knows of the past to get to where he is going – to God.” [Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p. 161]
In 2 Samuel 7, the Lord reminds David that he would choose where lived, not David or anyone else. We often think obedience is something that we decide to do for the Lord, instead of responding to his leading. What’s the difference between true obedience versus something that we decide to do for the Lord?
In an amazing reversal, in 2 Samuel 7:11-16, the Lord promised to build a house for David and his offspring. Psalm 132:13-14 echoes the Lord’s promise to always dwell with his people. Are there specific steps of obedience in which you are to pursue God’s presence in your life?
Psalm 132:11-12 (MSG)
Up, God, enjoy your new place of quiet repose, you and your mighty covenant ark; Get your priests all dressed up in justice; prompt your worshipers to sing this prayer: “Honor your servant David; don’t disdain your anointed one.”God gave David his word, he won’t back out on this promise:“One of your sons I will set on your throne; If your sons stay true to my Covenant and learn to live the way I teach them, Their sons will continue the line—always a son to sit on your throne.
“A Christian with a defective memory has to start everything from scratch and spends far too much of his or her time backtracking, repairing, starting over. A Christian with a good memory avoids repeating old sins, knows the easiest way through complex situations and instead of starting over each day, continues what was begun in Adam.” [Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p. 161]
“Déjà vu” is a French term describing the feeling that one has lived through the present situation before. Have you ever felt like you were going through déjà vu when you found yourself making the same mistakes over and over?
How do we become “a Christian with a good memory” so that we don’t always have to start over?
Today, as we remember God’s promises, let’s pray for breakthrough that leads to obedience, especially in areas where we have experience déjà vu in all the wrong ways.
Psalm 132:6-7 (MSG)
Remember how we got the news in Ephrathah, learned all about it at Jaar Meadows? We shouted, “Let’s go to the shrine dedication! Let’s worship at God’s own footstool!”
“As this old ark song is resung now by the people of God on pilgrimage, historical memories are revived and relived: there is a vast, rich reality of obedience beneath the feet of the disciples. They are not the first persons to ascend these slopes on their way of obedience to God, and they will not be the last. Up these same roads, along these same paths, the ark had been carried, accompanied by a determined and expectant people… Christians tramp well-worn paths: obedience has a history.” [Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p. 160]
If we think of obedience as following in the “well-worn paths” of the people of God throughout history (and not just our own limited experiences), how does this change your perspective on obedience?
“Remember…” This Psalm calls us to remember what happened with the people of God. Read through 2 Samuel 6. What are some things that we are to remember from this passage (blessings, warnings, encouragements, etc.)?
“Let’s go! Let’s worship!” These are the cries of people on pilgrimage as they remember God’s faithfulness together. How do we remember God’s faithfulness as a community together?
Today, let’s close in prayer, asking God to revive this heart of worship in us, in our families and in our communities.
Psalm 132:1-5 (MSG)
O God, remember David, remember all his troubles! And remember how he promised God, made a vow to the Strong God of Jacob, “I’m not going home, and I’m not going to bed, I’m not going to sleep, not even take time to rest, Until I find a home for God, a house for the Strong God of Jacob.”
“We want a Christian faith that has stability but is not petrified, that has vision but is not hallucinatory… How do we get the adult maturity to keep our feet on the ground and retain the childlike innocence to make the leap of faith?” – [Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p. 157]
Psalm 132 recounts the story of David bringing the ark of the Lord home in 2 Samuel chapters 6-7. In his excitement, David worshiped unashamed (in his wife’s words “half-naked”!), and he even promised to build God a house to live in. Yet, the Lord had other plans in mind for David (and for all Israel), but he honored David’s zeal to worship him.
Can you think of commitments you’ve made to God in the past?
How did God respond to your commitments to him?
How can these kinds of commitments keep us “stable, not petrified” in our walk of faith and obedience?
Spend some time closing in prayer, asking God for a renewed childlike faith that pursues to honor the Lord.
Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV)
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus had a certain mindset in his relationships with other people that we also are to have.
What is described about that mindset in each of verses from 6-8?
Focus on one or two persons close to you that you have difficulty relating to at times. How are you to embody and live out the aspects you answered above in your relationships with them?
Today, ask the Lord for His supernatural empowering for you have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, that you would humble yourself to serve and love them like Jesus did for us. Also spend time as in verses 9-11 to exalt Jesus who is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father!
Philippians 2:1-4 (NIV)
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Paul is addressing those who are part of the Philippians church, to be like-minded – which requires humility.
In our cultural context, faith is generally thought of as an individualistic private pursuit. In contrast, what is expressed in verse 2 – what does it look like to live out a Biblical faith?
In order for that reality of shared and mutual faith in the church to come about, humility is required. What is contrasted against humility in verse 3 and why are those things so counter to humility and the life of faith within the church?
How is humility described in verses 3 and 4 and how does that apply for your life?
As you have experienced God’s love and care for you, on that basis begin to pray through specific needs of others in your small group or missional group. Ask for the overcoming of barriers and differences with the common faith, common calling, and humility to value one another above self.
Psalm 131:3 (NLT)
3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD— now and always.
When Charles Spurgeon preached this psalm, he said it “is one of the shortest Psalms to read, but one of the longest to learn.” – [Eugene Petersen, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Kindle 1961]
In this last verse of the psalm, who now is being addressed?
What is the difference between putting hope in the LORD vs. in other “sources” and why is that so important for the community?
How is this public display a genuine outworking of the psalmist’s growth in individual humility before the LORD?
And that is what Psalm 131 nurtures: a quality of calm confidence and quiet strength that knows the difference between unruly arrogance and faithful aspiration, knows how to discriminate between infantile dependency and childlike trust, and chooses to aspire and to trust… – [Eugene Petersen, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Kindle 1981]
In humility, spend time praying for your church or ministry. Pray that the brothers and sisters in your community would put their hope in the LORD, not only for now but persisting in that always!
Psalm 131:2 (NLT)
2 Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
For God does not want us neurotically dependent on him but willingly trustful in him. And so he weans us. – [Eugene Petersen, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Kindle 1954]
A weaned child is past requiring the mother’s milk and therefore no longer cries out for it. A weaned child still completely needs the mother, but has a more clear awareness of her and trust that she will provide rather than only awareness of desperate need.
Who is doing the calming and quieting, and to whom?
Calming self sounds a bit like pop psychology: remember to breathe, count to ten, etc. What rather does the imagery of the weaned child with mother likened to “my soul within me” show about true humility?
How is the Lord leading you to actively engage in the calming and quieting of self?
Spend some time asking the Lord to mature you in humility, where you become more and more aware of God’s presence and love for you. Pray for this deepening trust in our Heavenly Father!
Psalm 131:1 (NLT)
1 LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty.
I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp.
One temptation that has received this treatment in Western civilization, with some special flourishes in America, is ambition…It is the oldest sin in the book, the one that got Adam thrown out of the garden and Lucifer tossed out of heaven. What is fairly new about it is the general admiration and approval that it receives. – [Eugene Petersen, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Kindle 1878]
The aspect of humility emphasized here is what we don’t do – what is the meaning and importance of this aspect?
What are these great matters or things too awesome that the psalmist is referring to?
Humility sometimes is wrongly thought of as low view of self. How does the starting address of the psalm to the LORD help correct that view?
In response to this verse, talk to the LORD and spend time having your heart and eyes drawn to Him once more. Surrender self and possibly self ambition that desires to be concerned with what are matters for the LORD only.