OBEDIENCE: "HOW HE PROMISED GOD" (Part 14)
Psalm 132 (ESV)1Remember, O LORD, in David's favor, all the hardships he endured, 2how he swore to the LORD and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, 3 "I will not enter my house or get into my bed, 4I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, 5until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob."
6Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah; we found it in the fields of Jaar. 7 “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!”
8 Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. 9Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy. 10For the sake of your servant David, do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
11 The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne. 12If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne.”
13For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place: 14 “This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. 15I will abundantly bless her provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread. 16Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy. 17There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed. 18His enemies I will clothe with shame, but on him his crown will shine.”
True knowledge of God is born out of obedience. (John Calvin)
Stable, Not Petrified: We want Christian faith that has stability but is not petrified, that has vision but is not hallucinatory. Psalm 132 is a psalm of David’s obedience. The psalm shows obedience as a lively, adventurous response of faith that is rooted in historical fact and reaches into a promised hope.
Obedience with a History: The first half of Psalm 132 is the part that roots obedience in fact and keeps our feet on the ground. There is a vast, rich reality of obedience beneath the feet of disciples; and if we are going to live as the people of God, we need more data than our own experiences to draw from. Biblical history is a good memory for what does and does not work. Psalm 132 activates faith’s memory so that obedience will be grounded.
Hope: A Race Towards God’s Promises: Psalm 132 doesn’t just keep our feet on the ground, it also gets them off the ground. For obedience is not a stodgy plodding in the ruts of religion, it is a hopeful race toward God’s promises. Obedience is fulfilled by hope. Psalm 132 cultivates a hope that gives wings to obedience, a hope that is consistent with the reality of what God has done in the past but is not confined to it. All the expectations listed in Psalm 132 have their origin in an accurately remembered past. Christians who master Psalm 132 will be protected from the danger that we should reduce Christian existence to ritually obeying a few commandments that are congenial to our temperament and convenient to our standard of living. It gives us, instead, a vision into the future so that we can see what is right before us. Obedience is doing what God tells us to do in it.
The Strength to Stand, the Willingness to Leap: In such ways Psalm 132 cultivates the memory and nurtures the hope that lead to mature obedience. For Christian living demands that we keep our feet on the ground; it also asks us to make a leap of faith. What we require is obedience—the strength to stand and the willingness to leap, and the sense to know when to do which. Which is exactly what we get when an accurate memory of God’s ways is combined with a lively hope in His promises.
(This post is a summary and partial abridgement of Eugene Peterson’s book “A Long Obedience In The Same Direction.” It is based solely on Peterson’s work and any help that this content gives should be credited to God’s grace through Peterson’s effort. In other words, give God glory, thank Eugene Peterson and consider buying the book.)