God's Rest.

Psalm 132.

This psalm is important, as showing the position which all these psalms of degrees occupy. We have indeed the house, as in Psalms 122, 127, the former of which seems to refer to the temple; yet (I think) hardly there as yet accepted and built of God, as Psalm 127 shows. The remnant were rejoiced at the thought of going to the house and Jerusalem, and we have it clothed with the thoughts of faith. But the Lord had not yet built it. For all the songs of degrees are the expression of the godly ones' thoughts and feelings between their external restoration, when the sour grape is ripening in the flower (Isaiah 18), and the full restoration to the Lord's enjoyed blessings, their enemies being cut off by judgment. It is all Isaiah 18; but with this we have Zion and David - the interference of power in grace, connecting the hearts of the remnant with Jehovah as a present thing, and giving the present testimony that His mercy endureth for ever. For David placed the ark on mount Zion, and had this song first sung after the ark had been delivered from the Philistines, and brought up from the house of Obed-edom. Israel in responsibility had failed, and God had delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemies' hand. Now it was brought out, and sovereign grace for His name's sake (first by a prophet, and next properly by power in grace, by a king) acted in behalf of Israel, and gave a new link and ground of relationship in the ark on mount Zion. This was not the temple, the place of settled peace and prosperity; but it was a link with God renewed to faith, David being the centre. David's son, as the true Solomon, would give in time the full blessing; for David did not after all build the house. So the place of rest here is in the heart and in hope; what we have is the person on whom the blessing is founded. (Compare 2 Sam. 7 and 1 Chron. 17)

We have David brought before us as the great dispensational root, and characteristic consequently of the blessing; but the house is the subject, a dwelling-place for the mighty One of Jacob. Hence also it is not wilderness blessings. It is not, "Rise up, Jehovah, and let thine enemies be scattered," and, "Return, O Jehovah, unto the many thousands of Israel." (Num. 10:35-36.) It is, "Arise, O Jehovah, into Thy rest, Thou, and the ark of Thy strength." It is Zion which is God's rest for ever. This it is He has chosen; there He will make the horn of David to bud. The person of David's son, royal grace in Zion, is thus what characterizes the blessing. Whatever house is built, David and his trouble are remembered, not Solomon the typical son of David and his house. In truth Solomon's faith was personally every way inferior. He went to Gibeon, not to Zion; to the empty tabernacle, not to the ark until afterwards. David's heart was on the house. It was all right. But God built his as He replied to him. It is the personal grace of Christ that is the centre of all, and the faith that, when the outward blessing was not yet there in peace, formed the true link with God.

What a blessing for the remnant then, and this is in principle our case now, and especially in these latter days. His tabernacle and His footstool are more than the temple. Hence, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the tabernacle, never the temple, is taken as the figure and shadow of the blessings of faith, though not so the very image. Still God's rest is desired, that is, that He should rest; and so we worship in His house.

Let us see a little in what particulars this is brought out. The answer of God is in everything beyond the desire. There are three requests. The first is that Jehovah should arise into His rest, that Jehovah's priests may be clothed with righteousness. This became them; it was the right desire. The righteous Lord loveth righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright. How often had they been otherwise. The second is, that Jehovah's favour and blessing might be such that the saints might shout for joy. The third is, that for David's sake Jehovah should not turn away the face of His anointed. As to David, there is the positive promise and the conditional one. The answer then comes. Zion will be His rest for ever. He hath desired and chosen it; her saints will be clothed with salvation, her saints shout aloud for joy. There the horn of David will bud, his crown flourish on him - the true David and David's Son, the Beloved.

And now note the principles. The afflictions of faith are the true path of blessing. A rest for God is the desire of the new nature; for sin, disorder only, has disturbed that rest, and, note, that rest which has its place in His relationship with His creatures, for in Himself He ever rests; but He must rest in holiness and love in the state of the creatures with whom He has to do, being according to His mind and love. This the heart desires. It is God's rest. Nor can the heart rest till then. But this is according to the manner of His presence; in Israel covenant-promise and governmental glory; for us our Father's house, God's rest according to His own nature, holy and without blame before Him in love and in glory. That it is in the Beloved, the true David, the Anointed, the Christ - this both secures and gives the true character of the blessedness in, with, and like Him.

But note that simplicity of faith, its proper energy, leaning not on the past, which is ruined or to be forgotten, but on what is before us as its object, and on our only dependence, on divine leading as to it - simplicity of faith, wrought as it is by God, leads into the place of God's desire and God's election. David brought the ark to Zion, but Zion God had chosen, had desired for His habitation. This in us is identified with a new nature, living on Christ as its object and food. And it learns and knows the place of God's rest herein. For David and Zion are really identified each in its own way with one another. Thus our new nature, God's desire, God's election, God's rest, and Christ Himself, all coincide.

But the place of Christ's glory, which is God's rest, where He dwells, God owns as His for ever. "This is my rest." And faith looks at all connected with it, priests and saints as God's - "Thy priests" and "Thy saints." But then He, taking Christ for the resting place of His glory, and contemplating the place of His dwelling, and rest, and habitation (that is; for us, the church which is His habitation, His tabernacle, His city, holy Jerusalem). He, having thus so associated Himself with her (compare Eph. 2:22, and Rev. 21:3) looks at the priests and saints as her priests and her saints, thus specially showing His delight in her, His identification with her. His priests are her priests, His saints are her saints, as that to which they belong. Then it is He sets up the glory of David's horn, the glory of the power, and rule of the Beloved; and this (while David is the foundation, His everlasting glory the result) is the subject of the psalm - Zion - for us, the church, the heavenly Jerusalem. This is His rest, His dwelling-place for ever, His desire, what He has chosen. And if He fully glorifies His anointed, as He will and must do, it is there He will do it. Though His name flourish in Himself (for His person must be the ground and centre of glory), yet its place is in the city of grace and glory. Her priests, her saints, will have salvation and abundant joy. One cannot say, her David or her Christ, that would be out of place. His dignity is our personal glory, but it dwells here as the place with which it is associated, and all the rest can be called hers. The glory is His, the place of it the chosen city of God - for us, the church, the heavenly Jerusalem.

There too (Psalm 133) blessing and unity are, but here, after the analogy of Aaron, the lowest skirt of his garment partakes of the anointing of the head, and this one Spirit makes the unity according to which (Eph. 4:3) they ought to dwell together. The blessing too was there. The abundant dew of Hermon; that is, abundant as on Hermon, fell upon the mountain of Zion. This fellowship was rich in blessing from above, as the desired refreshing of abundant dew fell in the everlasting hills. For in Zion Jehovah had promised the blessing. The anointing of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, and the refreshing of goodness from on high in abundance, shall accompany the unity of Israel in Zion. How far more deeply true was it on the church when the anointing of the Holy Spirit and His full ministration of grace by the word, revealing heavenly things, enriched and gladdened the unity in Christ which that Spirit formed! Alas! where is it now? Yet it is our privilege. J. N. Darby.