Tuesday of 5 Lent

Clothing The Saints With Garments of Praise – Psalm 132

“For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place:  Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy.”

Psalm 132:13,16

I would be a lousy poker player.  My mother often told me that I wear my emotions on my sleeve.  As a youngster I didn’t understand what that meant, but over time it became clear that she meant that I displayed my emotions openly in public rather than hiding them from other people.  If I was angry, sad, happy, perturbed, whatever, you would know it.  I’ve been told I have not changed with age.  So, I never play poker.  In verse 9 of today’s psalm, the Psalmist prays, “Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy.”  And in verse 16 God declares that “Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy.”  The sense of these two verses is that the priests of the Temple will openly practice righteousness, which is a change from the practices of the Temple priests before the exile, and that the people will see this change and recognize the salvation which has come to all of the returnees to Jerusalem.  The priests will wear righteousness and salvation on their sleeves.  It will all be on display in the Holy City, and “her saints will shout for joy.”

As was noted yesterday, this is a liturgical psalm used in procession to the Temple.  The first half is sung on the way to worship, and the second half is sung once the congregation has gathered in the courtyard of the Temple.  The faithful have prayed for provision, and God has provided.  Now God promises that to the blessings of food, shelter, even life itself, He will add those blessings pertaining to godliness.  He, in essence says, “I will clothe My Temple priests with salvation, with My saving graces and blessings, and with the righteousness you have requested.”  This is the promise of renewal and fulfillment of the Davidic covenant hoped for in the early verses of the psalm.  And this fulfillment would be realized in the Person and ministry of Jesus Christ.

When Jesus visited the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth, he read the first portion of Isaiah 61. After reading that messianic prophecy, He handed the scroll back to the attendant and shocked everyone by saying, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).  That passage from Isaiah, which was prophesied to the exiles after their return, goes on to talk about how God will clothe His people.  The prophecy says, “to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit” (61:3).  Jesus boldly proclaimed that He was the One who would take away the spirit of despair and give the garment of praise.  And in Him the promises of Psalm 132 are fulfilled.

That is a reason for those of us who have come into the New Jerusalem to shout for joy.  St. Paul exhorts the Church at Philippi to “rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (4:4).  And to the Church at Thessalonica he says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (5:16-18).  Life in the New Jerusalem is life in Jesus, the Son of David.  “The Lord has chosen Zion… and her saints will shout for joy.”

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