Psalm 132 is most interesting as it relates to the temple built by Solomon and the placing of the ark of the covenant in the most holy place. For the previous five hundred years, Israel worshiped at the Tabernacle which at this time was located at Gibeon. When David was anointed king, he vowed to build a house for the Lord God but was prevented because scripture says he was a man of war. Instead, the building of the new magnificent sanctuary that would hold the most holy ark of the covenant was left to David’s son, Solomon.
Solomon’s reign was one of peace as no major wars occurred during his lifetime. At the same time, Israel increased in power and influence throughout the world. Solomon’s days were the most prosperous for Israel leading his reign to be known by successive generations as the Golden Age. In the New Testament, it was Solomon Jesus appealed to for His example of prosperity and notoriety telling the people He was greater than Solomon (Mt. 12:42) and comparing Solomon’s beauty to the loveliest of God’s creation (Mt. 6:29).
In the 13th verse of the psalm, the psalmist speaks of Zion as God’s choice for His holy habitation. Zion is Jerusalem and is synonymous with the city of God. The area was originally the hill on which David built his fortress, but later was expanded to include the temple mount. In the Old Testament when people spoke of going to Zion, they were referring specifically to making the trip to the temple.
Jerusalem is the only place God allowed a temple to be built. In the ancient world, temples for pagan gods were built in various locations such as Paul saw in Athens and Ephesus. However, the one true living God had only one place of worship and one place of sacrifice. In Paul’s time, the ark was long since gone but there was a stone in its place in the Holy of Holies on which the priest put a censor on the Day of Atonement. There were no images allowed and no representation of the ark. Any Israelite that wanted to observe the solemn feast days had only one place to go—he must go to Jerusalem.
Zion’s was further expanded to mean the holy city of the New Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22). This is the brilliant city of light in Revelation 21. It is the home of the bride of Christ, the Lord’s church. The New Jerusalem is a city that comes out of heaven and descends to rest above the new earth, possibly touching it at some point. Although all of heaven belongs to God and His presence fills it all, His special manifestation is in the New Jerusalem whose entirety is His temple. Essentially, God’s people dwell within His temple. We are in Christ so that scripture says Christ Himself is the temple.
The beauty of worship in Solomon’s time was unparalleled by any other period of Israel’s history. It most closely models the worship of heaven. When the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon, she was stunned with the magnificence of what she saw. And yet, Jesus, the one who was a lowly carpenter, said He was greater than Solomon. The real beauty of Jesus is not seen on the outside. It is to be inside Christ to be able to understand how glorious He is. You can see His beauty by faith. Trusting Jesus is to have a glimpse of Zion, the holy city of God.
Pastor V. Mark Smith