Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The psalmist prays that God would remember his promises to David, Psa 132:1. His purpose to bring the ark of the Lord into a place of rest, Psa 132:2-5. Where it was found, and the prayer in removing it, Psa 132:6-9. The promises made to David and his posterity, Psa 132:10-12. God's choice of Zion for a habitation, and his promises to the people, Psa 132:13-17. All their enemies shall be confounded, Psa 132:18.
Some attribute this Psalm to David, but without sufficient ground; others, to Solomon, with more likelihood; and others, to some inspired author at the conclusion of the captivity, which is, perhaps, the most probable. It refers to the building of the second temple, and placing the ark of the covenant in it.
Lord, remember David - Consider the promises thou hast made to this thy eminent servant, that had respect, not only to him and to his family, but to all the Israelitish people.
How he sware unto the Lord - It is only in this place that we are informed of David's vow to the Lord, relative to the building of the temple; but we find he had fully purposed the thing.
Surely I will not come - This must refer to the situation of the temple; or, as we would express it, he would not pass another day till he had found out the ground on which to build the temple, and projected the plan, and devised ways and means to execute it. And we find that he would have acted in all things according to his oath and vow, had God permitted him. But even after the Lord told him that Solomon, not he, should build the house he still continued to show his good will by collecting treasure and materials for the building, all the rest of his life.
The mighty God of Jacob - עביר יעקב abir yaacob, the Mighty One of Jacob. We have this epithet of God for the first time, Gen 49:24. Hence, perhaps, the abirim of the heathen, the stout ones, the strong beings.
Lo, we have heard of it at Ephratah - This may be considered as a continuation of David's vow, as if he had said: As I had determined to build a temple for the ark, and heard that it was at Ephratah, I went and found it in the fields of Jaar, יער; - not the wood, but Kirjath Jaar or Jearim, where the ark was then lodged; - and having found it, he entered the tabernacle, Psa 132:7; and then, adoring that God whose presence was in it, he invited him to arise and come to the place which he had prepared for him.
Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou and the ark of thy strength - Using the same expressions which Solomon used when he dedicated the temple, Ch2 6:41, Ch2 6:42. There are several difficulties in these passages. Ephratah may mean the tribe of Ephraim; and then we may understand the place thus: "I have learned that the ark had been in the tribe of Ephraim, and I have seen it at Kirjath-jearim, or Field of the woods, but this is not a proper place for it, for the Lord hath chosen Jerusalem." It is true that the ark did remain in that tribe from the days of Joshua to Samuel, during three hundred and twenty-eight years; and thence it was brought to Kirjath-jearim, where it continued seventy years, till the commencement of the reign of David over all Israel.
But if we take Psa 132:6-8, not as the continuation of David's vow, but as the words of the captives in Babylon, the explanation will be more plain and easy: "We have heard, O Lord, from our fathers, that thy tabernacle was formerly a long time at Shiloh, in the tribe of Ephraim. And our history informs us that it has been also at Kirjath-jearim, the fields of the wood; and afterwards it was brought to Jerusalem, and there established: but Jerusalem is now ruined, the temple destroyed, and thy people in captivity. Arise, O Lord, and reestablish thy dwelling-place in thy holy city!" See Calmet and others on this place.
Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness - Let them be as remarkable for inward holiness as they are for the splendor of their holy vestments.
The face of thine anointed - David. Remember thy promises to him, that he may be restored to thee and to thy worship.
The Lord hath sworn - As David sware to the Lord, so the Lord swears to David that he will establish his throne, and place his posterity on it: and that he had respect to David's Antitype, we learn from St. Peter, Act 2:30 (note), where see the note. This verse with the following refers to the spiritual David, and the Christian Church.
If thy children will keep my covenant - This was conditional with respect to the posterity of David. They have been driven from the throne, because they did not keep the Lord's covenant, but the true David is on the throne, and his posterity forms the genuine Israelites.
The Lord hath chosen Zion - Therefore neither Shiloh nor Kirjath-jearim is the place of his rest.
This is my rest for ever - Here the Christian Church is most indubitably meant. This is God's place for ever. After this there never will be another dispensation; Christianity closes and completes all communications from heaven to earth. God has nothing greater to give to mankind on this side heaven; nor does man need any thing better; nor is his nature capable of any thing more excellent.
I will abundantly bless her provision - There shall be an abundant provision of salvation made for mankind in the Christian Church. Our Lord's multiplication of the loaves was a type and proof of it.
I will also clothe her priests - All Christian ministers, with salvation; this shall appear in all their conduct. Salvation - redemption from all sin through the blood of the Lamb shall be their great and universal message.
There will I make the horn of David to bud - There, in the Christian Church, the power and authority of the spiritual David shall appear.
I have ordained a lamp - I have taken care to secure a posterity, to which the promises shall be expressly fulfilled.
His enemies will I clothe with shame - Every opponent of the Christian cause shall be confounded.
But upon himself shall his crown flourish - There shall be no end of the government of Christ's kingdom. From Psa 132:11-18, the spiritual David and his posterity are the subjects of which the Psalm treats.