Reading: Psalm 132
A song of ascents.
LORD, remember David
and all his self-denial.
He swore an oath to the LORD,
he made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:
“I will not enter my house or go to my bed,
I will allow no sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
till I find a place for the LORD,
a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob” (NIV).
This is the thirteenth psalm in the Songs of Ascent series. With this psalm, the author returns to a familiar theme—the glory of God’s presence in Zion. It is what has drawn the pilgrims to this holy place. They have come to worship and meet with God.
Icy sunset, Grey Nuns Park, Ottawa, ON — photo by David Kitz
But this psalm has a different approach. It recounts the history of Zion and how this particular place was chosen as the site for Israel to worship God. It all began with David. At the prompting of the LORD, David chose Mount Zion to set up the Tabernacle of the LORD. But before Mount Zion could become a place of worship the stronghold of Zion had to be conquered. It was in enemy hands. Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion—which is the City of David (2 Samuel 5:7).
In this psalm we hear of David’s vow. “I will not enter my house or go to my bed, I will allow no sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob”
In David’s case, finding a place for the LORD required self-denial. It involved a physical battle. There is a spiritual battle that we too need to fight so the LORD can occupy His rightful place in our lives. The enemy does not leave the strongholds in our mind without a fight. We must take action to evict him.
We live in a world where self-denial is rare, and often frowned upon. Our society pushes the easy life—the comfortable life—the path of least resistance. Self-denial in pursuit of a relationship with God is a foreign concept. In many churches fasting and prayer is a lost discipline.
Jesus encountered the same problem with his own disciples. While he was praying fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane, his disciples were fast asleep. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour?” See Mark 14:32-42.
This inability to pray for an hour is an indicator that at our core we have not surrendered fully to God. Other things are more important. There is no self-denial. That TV show is more important. The game is more important. Perhaps our Zion is still occupied by the enemy and the LORD is not enthroned there.
Response: LORD God, help me to change. I want to put you first in my life. Come and occupy the throne of my life. I want my thoughts, words and actions to be governed by you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you find self-denial difficult? Do you practice a variety of spiritual disciplines?