Psalms For Life
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Yahveh Elohim hear our prayers

Psalm 132

Remember David

Our weaknesses and limitations can leave us wondering how much we can reasonably expect from God. This psalm models the godly response of clinging to his promises, however weak we feel.

A song of ascents.

Remember David, YHWH—
how, after all the hardships he endured
2 he swore to you
vowing to Jacob’s mighty God:

3 “I won’t go home or lie down on my bed
4 I won’t go to sleep or even shut my eyes
5 till I’ve found a place for YHWH
a home for Jacob’s mighty God.”

6 We heard about it in Ephrata
and we found it in the field of Ja’ar.
7 “Let’s go to his residence!
Let’s worship at his footstool!”

8 “Rise up, YHWH!
Move into your permanent home
you and the ark of your power!
9 May your priests be arrayed in victory
and everyone trusting you shout for joy.”
10 For David your servant’s sake
don’t turn away your anointed one unheard.

11 YHWH swore an oath to David
one he promised never to turn back on:

“A son of yours
I’ll seat on your throne.
12 If your sons are true to my covenant
and live by the teachings I give them
then their sons in turn
will sit on your throne forever.”

13 Because YHWH chose Zion
having desired it for the seat of his authority:
14 “This place will be my home forever—
the place I’ve longed to sit enthroned.
15 I’ll provide for Zion generously
and give its poor their fill of food.
16 Its priests I’ll clothe in triumph
and make everyone faithful to YHWH
shout for joy.
17 I’ll make the horn of David sprout there
and set a lamp burning for my anointed.
18 His foes I’ll clothe in shame
while the crown on his head will be resplendent.


David was far from perfect, but he did get some things right. Having been anointed king by Samuel, he was determined to wait for God’s timing, refusing to take power from his egocentric nemesis, Saul. David endured many hardships while holding God to the promise that he’d make David Israel’s next king. After finally being crowned king, he made an oath, putting God’s kingdom and God’s glory first. That self-sacrificial oath reflected his desire—visible even in his youth—to lay his life down at God’s feet.

David’s fulfillment of that oath seems to have been part of what made God promise David a son and an eternal throne if his successors remained faithful. That promise kept David going to the end of his days. But by the time this psalm was compiled in Book V, everyone knew that David’s successors had failed miserably, devastating David’s dynasty as well as the nation. However, the fact that God enabled his people to rebuild Jerusalem inspired hope that he would restore David’s dynasty too, making its end more glorious than its beginning.

God eventually revealed that glory on a ghastly Roman cross, honoring Jesus’ faithfulness when he did. But none of Jesus’ disciples understood because it wasn’t the sort of glory they were expecting—at least they didn’t recognize it till Jesus had been raised from the dead. We fall short like the disciples and everyone before and since. But thankfully, Jesus’ triumph over sin and death has made all God’s promises available to us.

It was by wearing a crown of thorns, Jesus, that you proved yourself David’s true heir. God then kept his oath to David by giving you authority over all. Help me cling to your promises and seek your kingdom first, however my story plays out. Let me know you and reign gloriously under you, I pray. Amen.

In your free moments today, pray this prayer:

For David your servant’s sake
don’t turn away your anointed one unheard.

Why YHWH?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH or YHVH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and sometimes transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Likewise, all modern translations either translate or transliterate it. Some other options for translating it are “the Eternal,” “the Almighty,” or “the Sovereign Lord.”

While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it seems to me more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. This roots it more firmly in the biblical story as the name God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Meaning “the self-existent One who answers to no one,” the name YHWH set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. I’ve chosen to transliterate only YHWH’s consonants since the earliest Hebrew manuscripts contain only consonants, the vowels being added much later. My aim in doing so is to honor God’s name and set it apart, as unique.

One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it out of reverence. (They read Adonai instead whenever they come to YHWH in the text.) I take the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard, who advocated pronouncing it as Yahveh (Yah·vay). He favored that over the standard Yahweh since the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish. It also makes it sound more robust, period.

Finding strength in the ancient psalms

May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.