A Divine-Human Partnership





Scripture:

Psa. 132:0   A Song of Ascents.
1 O LORD, remember in David’s favor
all the hardships he endured;
2 how 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;
4 I will not give sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
5 until I find a place for the LORD,
a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Psa. 132:6    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.”

Psa. 132:8    Rise up, O LORD, and go to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
and let your faithful shout for joy.
10 For your servant David’s sake
do not turn away the face of your anointed one.

Psa. 132:11    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.
12 If your sons keep my covenant
and my decrees that I shall teach them,
their sons also, forevermore,
shall sit on your throne.”

Psa. 132:13    For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his habitation:
14 “This is my resting place forever;
here I will reside, for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless its provisions;
I will satisfy its poor with bread.
16 Its priests I will clothe with salvation,
and its faithful will shout for joy.
17 There I will cause a horn to sprout up for David;
I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.
18 His enemies I will clothe with disgrace,
but on him, his crown will gleam.”

Observation:

The Psalm of ascent is one which would have been sung or spoken while climbing up to Jerusalem to worship God. The pattern of this Psalm is interesting. In verses 1-9 we read and learn about human purposes and desires. David wanted desperately to serve God and so he endured hardships and went after the ark of the covenant. But David’s activity is matched by God’s purposes and affirmations which are found in verses 10-18. We also find oaths in this Psalm. David’s oath is in verses 1-5, but the oath alone is not enough, it is backed-up by the David’s actions to fulfill his promises to God. The response is an oath from God in verses 10-12 and by God’s commitment and fulfillment of the oath in response. One can imagine the joy of God’s people, making the journey to Jerusalem, singing about David’s zeal to build the sanctuary for God, and then seeing the fruition in the Temple, the place that the Lord committed to building in return. 

Application:

We know that David did not end up building the temple in Jerusalem, but rather it was built by his son Solomon. That fact, however, did not distract from the ways in which God’s people remembered David and his participation in the plan. The plans for the people of God were far larger than just one person, but that person’s commitment to the long-range plan would make a significant difference.

Synergy is created when God and humanity partner together in the work of the kingdom. This Psalm was really a celebration of that synergy. David had plans and worked hard, but God’s were even greater, if David would serve in obedience. God did not need David to build a temple with his own power, but he needed David to be obedient and to work hard. 

Just as David had to be actively engaged in the work of God, so must we. David went without sleep as he wrestled to find a place of the tabernacle of God. There was self-discipline on the part of David, taking time to pray with God in the night hours, that helped him see the way that God was leading. The NIV translation of verse one actually says, “Lord, remember David and all his self-denial.” 

When’s the last time we talked about self-denial as a virtue to help us in our growth as a disciple of Jesus Christ? Growing up we used to have Thursdays as prayer and self-denial for missions in our church. My mother would only drink tea and have a piece of toast on Thursdays as a part of her commitment to this practice. I don’t hear people doing this anymore and I wonder, “why not?” Is self-denial for the sake of God’s work simply not important to us anymore? In a world in which we are encouraged to embrace everything that makes us feel good is self-denial simply passe’? 

The people of God celebrated David’s self-denial and God’s response and fulfillment of promise. This pattern of divine-human participation is seen most fully in the life of Christ. The power unleashed as a result of Christ’s incarnation is beyond our comprehension. Because of Christ’s humanity, the door has been opened for every one of us to follow him into this divine-human partnership. When we participate and bring or own self-denial into this relationship something synergistic happens and God is able to accomplish far more than we can ever begin to imagine. 

Let us climb the hill of faith toward our Jerusalem, celebrating the coming of Christ who makes this partnership possible. With every step, may our commitment to participating with God through self-denial continue to grow as we are awed by God’s response. 

Prayer:

Lord, I need your strength to embrace greater self denial in my life. Amen. 

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