We have reached the half way point of our series of reflections on the Psalms. Each day we will upload a new reflection to the website. We hope and pray that you will find them helpful and that they bring hope during this season. Click on these buttons to read the text of the psalm or listen to a recording of it. You can also listen to the reflection using the audio player below.
This psalm is one of the Songs of Zion, celebrating God’s presence in his chosen city – Jerusalem. Salem (verse 2) was an earlier name for Jerusalem and Mount Zion (verse 2) is one of the hills on which the city was built. Both are used as alternative names for Jerusalem. It was in Jerusalem that King Solomon built the temple (1 Kings 5-8). When the temple was dedicated, and the ark of the covenant brought into the Most Holy Place, God’s divine presence, or Shekinah, filled the temple in the form of a cloud.
The psalmist is celebrating that God has made Jerusalem his dwelling place. The people in the Old Testament knew that a building could not contain God (1 Kings 8:27-30; Isaiah 66:1-2), but it was where they had access to his divine presence. The Hebrew words often translated as ‘tent’ and ‘dwelling-place’ in verse 2 can also mean ‘den’ and ‘lair.’ This imagery, used by the psalmist, suggests God as a lion, renowned in Judah. This isn’t the only lion imagery used for God in the Bible; the OT prophets also referred to God in this way. When reading this psalm through the lens of the New Testament, we see Jesus referred to as the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5). Jesus also dwelt, or tabernacled, among us (John 1:14).
By the end of the psalm, God’s reputation has spread through all the world, so that the nations bring tribute to him (verses 11-12). We do not have a temple today in Jerusalem where we have access to God’s presence. Instead, we are ourselves living stones in a new temple, with Jesus as the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-6); our bodies filled with the presence of God by the indwelling of his Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Come Holy Spirit, fill us afresh as we carry your divine presence wherever we go today.