“For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling.”
With the world being as crazy as it seems these days, when was the last time you remembered that nothing thwarts God’s will? I mean, you do remember that, right? When things appear to be so confusing or upside down, we need to stop, turn off all our mobile communication devices and get back to his Word. Psalm 115:3 fits in nicely here: “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” That means God never has a bad hair day or millennium. Or eternity. Can you imagine what heaven would be like if his disposition were cynical, depressed, moody, sad, grouchy, oversensitive, or otherwise not comfortable in his own glory? Since heaven is supposed to be paradise, where would you go for a break? Fortunately, heaven is everyone’s idea of a permanent break because he explicitly is ruling in heaven, and God is quite comfortable being God and doing good — always.
In Psalm 132:13 we find one thing God was pleased to do: choose Zion as his earthly dwelling. The next verse says, “This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.” We might wonder what it is about Zion that makes it so desirable. We might even ask exactly what Zion is. Let’s check it out.
“Zion” means citadel or stronghold. Its shorter and original name was Salem (“peace”), where Melchizedek was king (Genesis 14:18). It appears to have been lengthened to Jerusalem after the Jebusites, one of several non-Semitic Canaanite tribes, turned it into their home. After David conquered Zion, the name became increasingly synonymous with Jerusalem being the capital of the Jews and a rallying point of and symbol for the future Davidic kingdom.
The hope for David’s kingdom is the context of Psalm 132 beginning in verse one. Verses two through five detail King David’s desire to “find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob”. This flashes back to the time when David realized he lived in a palace when God was still hanging out in a tent (2 Samuel 7:1-2). David had in mind to build fine palace for the Lord, but God also had in mind to build a “house” (i.e., household or family) for David (vs. 11b-16). That’s what Psalm 132:10-12 say. David’s “house” was conditional on his posterity keeping God’s covenant (v. 12), something history records them failing at miserably and repeatedly. Over the millennia Jerusalem has been conquered about 20 times. So how then was God to live there “for ever and ever”? And why does he desire it so much? To answer that, we must back up even farther.
Returning to early Genesis, Abram goes to Canaan (chapter 12). After arriving there, he promised Abram the land of Canaan to his descendents (12:7). In 13:15 he added “forever” to this promise and in 17:8 he said the land would be “an everlasting possession”, linking it to him being their God. Then moving to David, Jerusalem became the centerpiece of the land, and the future kingdom connected to David’s name. Psalm 132:15-18 describe the bounty and blessing of that kingdom. Who wouldn’t want to be there?
Now, here’s a question. God chose Canaan first, Jerusalem second, David third. The kingdom is coming, and when it arrives, it will be in sync with “Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22, see also Revelation 21:22:2), making a holy axis around which all of human interaction will revolve. That is why God loves Jerusalem/Zion so much and why he will live there “for ever”. That said, what did it take to make all this happen? Well, other than orchestrating and overseeing events over several thousand years, not much. Not compared to another dwelling place he had in mind.
In today’s age, God desires another place to live forever: our hearts. For that to happen, Jesus had to die and rise again to send his Spirit into our hearts. Jesus didn’t have to die to retain Jerusalem. And as much as he loves that city, his love for us goes much deeper and costs so much more. He loves and chose Zion for his glory and eternal purposes. Same for us. For him to give up on the Jews, their land or their city would create the biggest breach of faithfulness in history. He won’t do that to them or us. Since it took more than millennia of effort to dwell in our hearts forever, are you faithfully walking with him today? Are you returning to him the faithfulness he shows you every day?