NAFSHI

A Unique Online Torah Learning Resource

Mizmor 132 - To Keep the Promise

(א) שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת זְכוֹר ה' לְדָוִד אֵת כָּל עֻנּוֹתוֹ:
(1) A song of the steps. “O Hashem, remember for David all his anguish.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev. 4]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 132 - To Keep The Promise
As in many of the previous mizmorim of this series, David speaks for Klal Yisrael in a time when the Jewish people are in Exile. In the mizmor the nation appeals to Hashem to bring the Geulah (Redemption) and return the Shechinah (Divine presence) to a restored Bais Hamikdash (Temple). As an essential part of this tefillah, the people ask Hashem to remember David’s efforts with kindness and reward his dedication by anointing his descendant to usher in the Geulah.
Navigating Tehillim. This is the thirteenth in the series of 15 mizmorim to be sung by the Leviim in the Beis HaMikdash while standing on the 15 steps leading up from the women’s courtyard to the men’s courtyard.
Historical Background
The construction of the Bais Hamikdash was closely associated with the royal House of David. David himself had originally hoped to personally direct it, but this privilege was denied him because of his violent past and given to his son Shlomo. Nevertheless, because of his great love for Hashem, David worked tirelessly to find the right location for the building, prepare the plans, and gather the resources.
In fact, he swore an oath (shevuah) and made a vow (neder) that he would not rest until he found what he was seeking. David mentioned Yaakov Avinu in his neder because Yaakov had set a precedent in searching out the location of the future Bais Hamikdash. Yaakov was rewarded by being allowed to see that location at the base of the ladder that appeared to him in a dream (Bereishis 28:17). Yaakov was also the first to use a vow in making a commitment to Hashem in a time of distress, as it says, “Then Yaakov made a vow” (ibid. 28:20).
David’s search was rewarded when an angel instructed the prophet Gad to tell David to build a mizbe’ach (altar) at the threshing floor of Aravna Hayevusi (Shmuel II 24:16). Thereupon David bought the property from Aravna and immediately consecrated it by bringing offerings to Hashem. Hashem responded with a Divine flame that descended on the mizbe’ach. This miraculous event brought to an end the plague that the Jewish people had been suffering at that time. Thereupon David said, “This is the House of Hashem.” (Divrei Hayamim I 22:1)
The actual construction of the Bais Hamikdash was designated for Shlomo, the son of David. Hashem’s promise to establish Shlomo on the throne was stated unconditionally through the prophet Nassan. That commitment was directly linked to his role in building the Bais Hamikdash, as it says. “He shall build a House for My sake, and I shall establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (See Shmuel II 7:12-13.)
This mizmor quotes Hashem’s promise to David, a promise that his royal line would never cease. That promise is described as a shevuah (oath) because it has the power of Hashem’s word. This shevuah, recalls the shevuah that David made in which he swore to deny himself any comfort until he completed his goal of finding the location of the Bais Hamikdash.
However, the portion of Hashem’s promise concerning the subsequent descendants of David, was conditional on their observance of the Torah. If they would continue to observe the Torah on their throne, Hashem would remain on His throne in the Bais Hamikdash. This is because the Divine throne and the throne of the House of David are linked. However, even if it should happen that the descendant of David in any generation was to be unworthy, the Davidic dynasty would not be permanently broken, but would remain in force for ever and ever, ready to be restored.
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. A REMEMBRANCE OF DAVID. The nation asks that David’s intense commitment in preparing for the Bais Hamikdash be remembered and that his name always be associated with the dwelling place of the Shechinah. David worked devotedly to determine the location of Hashem’s house. This part of the mizmor includes a portion of the oath by which David swore not to rest until he has fulfilled his mission.
(א) שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת זְכוֹר ה' לְדָוִד אֵת כָּל עֻנּוֹתוֹ: (ב) אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לַה' נָדַר לַאֲבִיר יַעֲקֹב:
(1) A song of the steps. “O Hashem, remember for David all his anguish, (2) how he swore to Hashem, and vowed to the Mighty Power of Yaakov:
(ג) אִם אָבֹא בְּאֹהֶל בֵּיתִי אִם אֶעֱלֶה עַל עֶרֶשׂ יְצוּעָי: (ד) אִם אֶתֵּן שְׁנַת לְעֵינָי לְעַפְעַפַּי תְּנוּמָה: (ה) עַד אֶמְצָא מָקוֹם לַה' מִשְׁכָּנוֹת לַאֲבִיר יַעֲקֹב:
(3) I will not enter my sleeping chamber, I will not go up on my cushioned bedding, ... (4) I will not allow restful sleep to my eyes [or] a nap to my eyelids, ... (5) before I find the location for Hashem, the habitations for the Mighty Power of Yaakov.
Navigating Tehillim. It is noteworthy that Yaakov himself had used the term “the Mighty Power of Yaakov” (Bereishis 49:24) in referring to Hashem because Hashem gave him the strength to overcome all the challenges that he faced in life. Hashem had promised to protect Yaakov, saying “Behold, I am with you; I will guard you wherever you go” (Bereishis 28:15) and He kept His promise, as Yaakov later said, “He answered me in my time of distress” (ibid. 35:3). Similarly, in Mizmor 020, where David appeals for Hashem’s help in meeting the challenge of overcoming Avshalom’s army, he invokes the Name of Hashem as “the G-d of Yaakov” (20:2).
PART 2. CELEBRATING A SUCCESSFUL SEARCH. The people joyfully declare that David’s search has been rewarded. They issue a call to all Jews to join in serving Hashem in the new Bais Hamikdash that is now to be built.
(ו) הִנֵּה שְׁמַעֲנוּהָ בְאֶפְרָתָה מְצָאנוּהָ בִּשְׂדֵי יָעַר: (ז) נָבוֹאָה לְמִשְׁכְּנוֹתָיו נִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לַהֲדֹם רַגְלָיו: (ח) קוּמָה ה' לִמְנוּחָתֶךָ אַתָּה וַאֲרוֹן עֻזֶּךָ: (ט) כֹּהֲנֶיךָ יִלְבְּשׁוּ צֶדֶק וַחֲסִידֶיךָ יְרַנֵּנוּ: (י) בַּעֲבוּר דָּוִד עַבְדֶּךָ אַל תָּשֵׁב פְּנֵי מְשִׁיחֶךָ:
(6) See now! We [first] heard of it [as being] in Efras. We [then] found it in a forested field. (7) Let us joyfully come to His habitations. Let us prostrate ourselves at His footstool. (8) Arise, Hashem upon Your resting place, You and the Ark of Your strength. (9) Let Your Kohanim be clothed in righteousness. And let Your devout ones, sing joyously. (10) For the sake of David, Your servant, do not reject Your anointed one.
PART 3. HASHEM’S PROMISE. The nation appeals to Hashem to fulfill the promise that He made to preserve the historic relationship between the House of David and the construction of the Bais Hamikdash. Hashem promised that David’s royal line would continue for all time.
(יא) נִשְׁבַּע ה' לְדָוִד אֱמֶת לֹא יָשׁוּב מִמֶּנָּה מִפְּרִי בִטְנְךָ אָשִׁית לְכִסֵּא לָךְ: (יב) אִם יִשְׁמְרוּ בָנֶיךָ בְּרִיתִי וְעֵדֹתִי זוֹ אֲלַמְּדֵם גַּם בְּנֵיהֶם עֲדֵי עַד יֵשְׁבוּ לְכִסֵּא לָךְ: (יג) כִּי בָחַר ה' בְּצִיּוֹן אִוָּהּ לְמוֹשָׁב לוֹ: (יד) זֹאת מְנוּחָתִי עֲדֵי עַד פֹּה אֵשֵׁב כִּי אִוִּתִיהָ: (טו) צֵידָהּ בָּרֵךְ אֲבָרֵךְ אֶבְיוֹנֶיהָ אַשְׂבִּיעַ לָחֶם: (טז) וְכֹהֲנֶיהָ אַלְבִּישׁ יֶשַׁע וַחֲסִידֶיהָ רַנֵּן יְרַנֵּנוּ:
(11) Hashem has sworn to David, a truth from which He will never retreat: From the fruit of your loin. I will place [him] on a throne for you. (12) If your sons keep My covenant and this, My testament, which I will teach them, their sons, too, forever and ever, will sit upon your throne. (13) Because Hashem has chosen Tzion; He has desired it for His habitation. (14) [He said:] This is My resting place forever and ever. Here I will dwell, for I have desired it. (15) I will bless its sustenance abundantly. I will give its paupers their fill of food. (16) I will clothe its Kohanim with yeshuah; its devout ones to continue singing joyously.
Hashem also promised that a descendant of David would ultimately be anointed as the Mashiach:
(יז) שָׁם אַצְמִיחַ קֶרֶן לְדָוִד עָרַכְתִּי נֵר לִמְשִׁיחִי: (יח) אוֹיְבָיו אַלְבִּישׁ בֹּשֶׁת וְעָלָיו יָצִיץ נִזְרוֹ:
(17) There I will cause the horn of strength to flourish for David. I have prepared a lamp for My anointed one. (18) I will clothe [his] enemies in disgrace, but on him, his crown will sparkle.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. A REMEMBRANCE OF DAVID.
(א) שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת לְדָוִד
This is the 13th song of the steps  שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת . It was composed by David  לְדָוִד .
זְכוֹר ה' לְדָוִד 
אֵת כָּל עֻנּוֹתוֹ:
Hashem, remember for David — זְכוֹר ה' לְדָוִד  all his frustrated anguish — אֵת כָּל עֻנּוֹתוֹ  as he tirelessly worked to determine the precise location of the Bais Hamikdash even though he knew that he was to be denied the privilege of actually building it. Hashem, You promised that in return for his devotion, his name would forever be associated with the Bais Hamikdash when it is built. May that time come soon.
(ב) אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לַה‘ 
נָדַר לַאֲבִיר יַעֲקֹב:
Remember how he swore in a shevuah (oath) to Hashem — אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לַה' , and uttered a neder (vow) to the Mighty Power of Yaakov — נָדַר לַאֲבִיר יַעֲקֹב .
David used both a shevuah and a neder, but the mizmor presents only the shevuah. And even that is expressed in a truncated form.
(ג) אִם אָבֹא בְּאֹהֶל בֵּיתִי 
אִם אֶעֱלֶה עַל עֶרֶשׂ יְצוּעָי:
David said: I swear that I will not enter — אִם אָבֹא  my royal sleeping chamber — בְּאֹהֶל בֵּיתִי I will not go up — אִם אֶעֱלֶה  on my luxuriously cushioned bedding — עַל עֶרֶשׂ יְצוּעָי , ...
(ד) אִם אֶתֵּן שְׁנַת לְעֵינָי 
לְעַפְעַפַּי תְּנוּמָה:
I will not allow restful sleep to close my eyes — אִם אֶתֵּן שְׁנַת לְעֵינָי , or even a brief nap to lightly shut my eyelids — לְעַפְעַפַּי תְּנוּמָה , ...
(ה) עַד אֶמְצָא מָקוֹם לַה‘ 
מִשְׁכָּנוֹת לַאֲבִיר יַעֲקֹב:
... before I find the location — עַד אֶמְצָא מָקוֹם  specially designated for public awareness of the Presence of Hashem — לַה' . That is the place which Yaakov saw in his dream as the Gate of Heaven, the place where there would be constructed the habitations for the Mighty Power of Yaakov — מִשְׁכָּנוֹת לַאֲבִיר יַעֲקֹב .
PART 2. CELEBRATING A SUCCESSFUL SEARCH.
(ו) הִנֵּה שְׁמַעֲנוּהָ בְאֶפְרָתָה 
מְצָאנוּהָ בִּשְׂדֵי יָעַר:
See now — הִנֵּה ! We first heard of it as being in the general vicinity of Efras — שְׁמַעֲנוּהָ בְאֶפְרָתָה , the birthplace of David (also known as Bais Lechem). But then we narrowed it down and found it — מְצָאנוּהָ , in a forested field — בִּשְׂדֵי יָעַר , at the threshing floor of Aravna Hayevusi. (Shmuel II 24:16)
(ז) נָבוֹאָה לְמִשְׁכְּנוֹתָיו 
נִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לַהֲדֹם רַגְלָיו:
May the Bais Hamikdash be rebuilt now and let us joyfully come there to His habitations — נָבוֹאָה לְמִשְׁכְּנוֹתָיו  three times a year. Let us prostrate ourselves at His footstool — נִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לַהֲדֹם רַגְלָיו , the Bais Hamikdash that is located at the base of the Heavenly Throne of Glory.
The people joyfully call upon Hashem to symbolically take up residence in the restored Bais Hamikdash:
(ח) קוּמָה ה‘ לִמְנוּחָתֶךָ 
אַתָּה וַאֲרוֹן עֻזֶּךָ:
Arise, Hashem  קוּמָה ה‘ , may Your Shechinah descend upon Your eternal resting place — לִמְנוּחָתֶךָ , You and the Ark of Your strength — אַתָּה וַאֲרוֹן עֻזֶּךָ , which contains the tablets of the Law that guarantee strength to Your nation.
The words of this verse and the next two (8 – 10) are also reflected in the tefillah King Shlomo used when he inaugurated the first Bais Hamikdash (Divrei Hayamim II 41-42). Note that in speaking of “You and the Ark of Your strength” the word You refers to the thick cloud which appeared after the Ark was installed in the Holy of Holies (see I Melachim 8:6-11).
(ט) כֹּהֲנֶיךָ יִלְבְּשׁוּ צֶדֶק 
וַחֲסִידֶיךָ יְרַנֵּנוּ:
Let Your Kohanim be clothed in righteousness — כֹּהֲנֶיךָ יִלְבְּשׁוּ צֶדֶק , as they give guidance to the people and perform the avodah (service) in the Bais Hamikdash. And let Your devout ones, the Leviim, sing joyously — וַחֲסִידֶיךָ יְרַנֵּנוּ  with a full heart to inspire the people.
(י) בַּעֲבוּר דָּוִד עַבְדֶּךָ 
אַל תָּשֵׁב פְּנֵי מְשִׁיחֶךָ:
For the sake of David, Your servant — בַּעֲבוּר דָּוִד עַבְדֶּךָ , do not reject Your anointed one — אַל תָּשֵׁב פְּנֵי מְשִׁיחֶךָ , his descendant. Do it in the zechus (merit) of David’s devotion in preparing a dwelling for You and the oath that You swore to him.
PART 3. HASHEM’S PROMISE.
(יא) נִשְׁבַּע ה‘ לְדָוִד 
אֱמֶת לֹא יָשׁוּב מִמֶּנָּה
Hashem has sworn to David — נִשְׁבַּע ה' לְדָוִד a truth from which He will never retreat — אֱמֶת לֹא יָשׁוּב מִמֶּנָּה .
מִפְּרִי בִטְנְךָ 
אָשִׁית לְכִסֵּא לָךְ:
You will be succeeded by a son from the fruit of your loin — מִפְּרִי בִטְנְךָ . I will firmly place him on a throne for you — אָשִׁית לְכִסֵּא לָךְ  to establish your royal line.
(יב) אִם יִשְׁמְרוּ בָנֶיךָ בְּרִיתִי 
וְעֵדֹתִי זוֹ אֲלַמְּדֵם 
גַּם בְּנֵיהֶם עֲדֵי עַד יֵשְׁבוּ לְכִסֵּא לָךְ:
If your sons keep My covenant — אִם יִשְׁמְרוּ בָנֶיךָ בְּרִיתִי , which includes all the mitzvos of the Torah, and this, My testament — וְעֵדֹתִי זוֹ  of admonishment to observe the mitzvos, which I will teach them — אֲלַמְּדֵם  through My neviim (prophets), then their sons, too, forever and ever — גַּם בְּנֵיהֶם עֲדֵי עַד , will sit upon your throne — יֵשְׁבוּ לְכִסֵּא לָךְ .
(יג) כִּי בָחַר ה' בְּצִיּוֹן 
אִוָּהּ לְמוֹשָׁב לוֹ:
This will happen because Hashem has chosen Tzion — כִּי בָחַר ה' בְּצִיּוֹן , which is the City of David; He has desired it for His habitation — אִוָּהּ לְמוֹשָׁב לוֹ  since the throne of David and the Divine throne are linked to each other by Hashem’s promise.
Note that Hashem’s choice of the location of the Bais Hamikdash is inextricably linked to His bond with the House of David.
(יד) זֹאת מְנוּחָתִי עֲדֵי עַד 
פֹּה אֵשֵׁב כִּי אִוִּתִיהָ:
This is My resting place forever and ever — זֹאת מְנוּחָתִי עֲדֵי עַד . I will no longer move My habitation from location to location as I did since the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was set up by Moshe. Here I will dwell, for I have desired it — פֹּה אֵשֵׁב כִּי אִוִּתִיהָ . It has a special meaning to Me for it is the location of the Akeidas Yitzchak (Binding of Yitzchak), where Avraham showed the depth of his devotion to Me.
This verse is Hashem’s response to verse ח' above where the people called to Him in devotion: קוּמָה ה‘ לִמְנוּחָתֶךָ .
(טו) צֵידָהּ בָּרֵךְ אֲבָרֵךְ 
אֶבְיוֹנֶיהָ אַשְׂבִּיעַ לָחֶם:
Because I have chosen this location, it will be a source of blessing for the entire land. I will bless its sustenance abundantly — צֵידָהּ בָּרֵךְ אֲבָרֵךְ  and so those who dedicate their efforts to the avodah in the Bais Hamikdash will not suffer thereby. I will give even its paupers their fill of food — אֶבְיוֹנֶיהָ אַשְׂבִּיעַ לָחֶם .
(טז) וְכֹהֲנֶיהָ אַלְבִּישׁ יֶשַׁע 
וַחֲסִידֶיהָ רַנֵּן יְרַנֵּנוּ:
I will clothe its Kohanim with yeshuah (salvation) — וְכֹהֲנֶיהָ אַלְבִּישׁ יֶשַׁע . This means that I will save them from every threat as a reward for serving Me with devotion. And as a reward to its devout ones  וַחֲסִידֶיהָ , the Leviim who sing in praise of My Name, I will grant them long life and artistic talent to continue singing joyously — רַנֵּן יְרַנֵּנוּ .
This verse is Hashem’s response to verse ט' where the people called to Him in devotion: כֹּהֲנֶיךָ יִלְבְּשׁוּ צֶדֶק וַחֲסִידֶיךָ יְרַנֵּנוּ .
(יז) שָׁם אַצְמִיחַ קֶרֶן לְדָוִד
עָרַכְתִּי נֵר לִמְשִׁיחִי:
There — שָׁם  in Tzion, even if the people have sinned and have been driven away from their land, I will bring them back and I will cause the horn of strength to flourish anew for David — אַצְמִיחַ קֶרֶן לְדָוִד ; I have prepared a lamp for My anointed one — עָרַכְתִּי נֵר לִמְשִׁיחִי . That light of Torah will shine if the Mashiach connects himself to the source of kedushah and brings the people to avodas Hashem.
(יח) אוֹיְבָיו אַלְבִּישׁ בֹּשֶׁת 
וְעָלָיו יָצִיץ נִזְרוֹ:
In contrast to the Kohanim, whom I will clothe in yeshuahI will clothe David’s enemies in disgrace — אוֹיְבָיו אַלְבִּישׁ בֹּשֶׁת , but on him, his crown will sparkle — וְעָלָיו יָצִיץ נִזְרוֹ .
Living the Mizmor
Listed below are some of the thoughts you might have in mind when you say the words of the mizmor as a tefillah to Hashem.
Lessons for Life - Your Attitude.
[132:1] DAVIDIC REIGN. – זְכוֹר ה' לְדָוִד אֵת כָּל עֻנּוֹתוֹ – “O Hashem, remember for David all his anguish.” When you say the tefillah אֶת צֶֽמַח דָּוִד  in the daily Shemoneh Esrei, have in mind that you are helping fulfill David’s request and Hashem’s promise.
[132:11] – נִשְׁבַּע ה' לְדָוִד אֱמֶת לֹא יָשׁוּב מִמֶּנָּה – “Hashem has sworn to David, a truth from which He will never retreat: From the fruit of your loin. I will place [him] on a throne for you.
[132:4] COMMITMENT. – אִם אֶתֵּן שְׁנַת לְעֵינָי לְעַפְעַפַּי תְּנוּמָה – “I will not allow restful sleep to my eyes [or] a nap to my eyelids.” Follow David’s example by dedicating yourself to a worthy goal. If you sacrifice sleep and comfort to pursue it, you are being especially virtuous.
 
Additional Thoughts
In Mizmor 132, David has provided us with a tefillah with which we can ask Hashem to remember David’s intense dedication in preparing for the Bais Hamikdash. With this tefillah we can ask Hashem to preserve the House of David forever. Was David self-conscious about enlisting our support for the glory of his own royal line? Such a tefillah could only have been written by someone who has completely overcome selfish pride and arrogance. In fact, that was precisely the theme of Mizmor 131, which serves as an introduction to Mizmor 132.
That is why it is significant that in this mizmor we ask Hashem to grant our plea “for the sake of David Your servant” (verse 9). David identified himself as a servant of Hashem, which meant that everything he did was at the direction of his Master and was intended only to please his Master, without any personal agenda mixed in. It was not a matter of his own glory. He knew it was Hashem’s will that the House of David be forever associated with the House of Hashem.
This is a challenge which is faced by everyone in a position of leadership or power over others. He must ensure that his motivations are pure and that if he ascends to a high position, he must focus on doing Hashem’s will without thoughts of personal advantage.
Sources
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the pesukim of this mizmor are listed below.
א - שי למורא, רש"י, רד"ק, אבן יחייא, מזמור לתודה
ב - רד"ק
ג - רד"ק, ספורנו
ד - ספורנו, מצודות
ה - אבן עזרא, מלבי"ם
ו - אבן עזרא, ספורנו, מצודות
ז - רש"י, רד"ק, המאירי, ספורנו
ח - רד"ק, ספורנו, אבן יחייא
ט - אבן עזרא
י - מלבי"ם, נר לרגלי
יא - רד"ק, מלבי"ם, אלשיך
יב - רד"ק, אבן יחייא, מלבי"ם, נר לרגלי, אלשיך
יג - אבן עזרא, אבן יחייא
יד - רד"ק, ספורנו
טו - אבן יחייא, מצודות, מלבי"ם, נר לרגלי
טז - רד"ק, המאירי, מלבי"ם
יז - רד"ק, אבן יחייא
יח - אבן עזרא