1 March 1957, at Hualian, Taiwan.
I want to join our brother Madsen in thanking you all for the welcome that you have given us. And to the brothers and sisters here, our warm thanks for the wonderful lunch we have had today. We are very glad to come and see you here at this time. I am sorry that I was not able to come the last time when I was over here in Taiwan, but I think I did just about as much as any mortal man could do, although the brethren are trying to get me do as much this time as the other time!
Well, we are not here to talk about ourselves, we want to be helpful in spiritual things. I am going to ask you to read with me a Psalm. Maybe some of you have not got your Bible with you, but we will read it right through.
Psalm 132: "Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions: how he sware unto the Lord, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob; surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood. We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool. Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength. Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy. For thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed. The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore. For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread. I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy. There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed. His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish."
Now I expect you are wondering what all that has to do with us here today, and I hope to be able to show you that it really does have a lot to do with us.
No one knows who wrote this Psalm and no one seems to know when it was written, but it seems that it was written a long time after David had died. Probably, it was written in the time when the remnant of Israel came back from captivity and they were preparing to rebuild the temple. So they said these words, "Lord, remember David and all his afflictions."
The Seed of David
I want you to notice something about this song. First of all, it does seem to be speaking all about things in Israel a long time ago. In verse one it speaks about David, and in verse 17 it speaks of David again. In verse 5 it speaks of the temple, in verse 8 it speaks of the ark of the covenant, in verse 9 and 16 it refers to the priests, in verse 9 again it speaks of the Lord's people as the saints, in verses 11 and 12 it speaks of the seed of David, and in verse 7 it speaks of Zion.
It looks very much as though it was all about things long ago in the days of Israel, but here is a very wonderful thing. Did you notice what was said, David had said that he would not go up to his bed, or take any sleep until he had found a place for the Lord. Now here in verse 6 it says this, "we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood." Ephratah is another name for Bethlehem. David's temple was never built in Bethlehem, it was built in Jerusalem. David's temple was never built in the fields of the woods, it was built in Mount Zion. And the second temple, which was built by the remnant back from Babylon, never built the temple in Bethlehem.
It would seem that the writer of this Psalm had got a bit mixed up. He was speaking about the temple and he said "we found it in Bethlehem", but no temple was ever built in Bethlehem. But every Christian here today knows what was found in Bethlehem. Bethlehem was the place where the Lord Jesus was born; therefore this Psalm all relates to the Lord Jesus. And if you want to prove that that is true, you have only got to look over to the beginning of the book of the Acts in chapter 2 and at verse 30, "Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne." You see, that is a direct quotation of the eleventh verse of Psalm 132.
Now Peter goes on, "He, foreseeing this, spake of the resurrection of Christ." So what is in the Psalm is really transferred to these verses. The Lord Jesus is the spiritual Seed of David, and God's promise to David was fulfilled in Christ. The promise to David was that one of his seed would sit upon his throne. That is exactly what Peter was saying on the day of Pentecost, "God hath made this Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ." "God has raised up His Son Jesus and set Him upon His throne." That is the first thing in this Psalm that relates to the Lord Jesus. The Psalm is fulfilled in Christ being enthroned at the right hand of God.
The Seed of Christ
Now here is another thing that comes right to us. Of course we are living in the day of the Lord Jesus, we are living in the time when Jesus is on the throne in heaven, so this is our Psalm. But now look at these words in verse 12: "If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore." Who are the children of Christ? Christ is the spiritual Seed of David, but who are the seed of Christ? The answer is that we here this afternoon are the seed of Christ. If we have been born again, we have been born of the Lord Jesus. It is He who has given us our new life. We are the spiritual children of the Lord Jesus.
Now notice two things: the Psalm
begins with the affliction of David. That is transferred to the
Lord Jesus – the suffering of Christ. "If we suffer with Him we
shall be glorified together with Him." The children who share
His suffering are to share His throne. As the children of the
Lord Jesus, we are called to share His throne forever. You see,
this is our Psalm.
A Place for God
Now I want you to notice another thing. This is the Psalm of the man who is utterly devoted to the Lord. You cannot read it without seeing how utterly David's heart was for the Lord. Of course we know that from David's own psalms, and we know it from his life. He was a man who was utterly devoted to the Lord. But how would he show that he was utterly devoted to the Lord? Here are the words, "surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord..." David showed his devotion to the Lord by making one object supreme in his life: the House of God. You see, here is his whole heart centred in this one matter: the House of the Lord. His one object in life was to find a place for the Lord. Well, how true that was of the Lord Jesus, the Seed of David. There is no doubt about it that his whole heart was set upon the Lord, and he showed that that was so by making his main business the finding of a place for the Lord.
See how the Lord Jesus was always concerned with that one matter: a House for the Lord. We know quite well that it was not a natural house, it was not a house like the temple of Jerusalem, the House that the Lord Jesus was seeking was a people.
When He called these disciples unto Him, they were the beginning of the building of the House of God. He began to build... He said, "I will build My church" and He began to build with the disciples. And then on the day of Pentecost, He went on with the building, and all through the Book of the Acts the Lord Jesus is seen building the House of God. He was adding the living stones to this tabernacle. He has been doing that ever since, right up to this day.
Now the wonderful thing is that here in a little hall like this, in this place, the Lord Jesus is building a Place for God and He is still building that spiritual House. As we stood outside before this meeting, I said to brother Madsen that I think if I lived in this place, I should feel that I was living in a faraway place from the rest of the world. Here you are right away in this corner of the world, but here the Lord Jesus is building God's House. He is doing it everywhere.
This Psalm 132 is being fulfilled in this hall this very day. Jesus is on the throne and He is building this House of God here. Now that is transferred to us. It shows us what a man of God ought to be like. Firstly, one whose heart is wholly and utterly for the Lord, and then one who shows that he is wholly for the Lord by making His House supreme.
I wonder if that is true of all of you. I have no doubt that you are concerned with salvation. I have no doubt that your hearts are for the Lord, but do remember that the most important way of showing that our hearts are for the Lord is that we should work together with Christ in building His House. David had a great concern for the House of the Lord; so great was his concern that he said, "I will not sleep until I have found a place for the Lord, I will take no rest until the Lord has His Place," that is utterness for the Lord.
Building a Home for God
You see, the one thing that God has always wanted is a dwelling place in this world. And it is shown in the Bible that what God wants as His dwelling place is not brick or stone, it is people. I wonder if we are really concerned for God's House in this way... concerned that the House should be built and then concerned to look after the House as it is being built. In the New Testament that means having great care for the Lord's people; that we are ready to suffer for one another, for the House of God is not a place, it is a people. Have we got this great concern for the Lord's people that we will make it our first business in life that the Lord's people shall be built up?
Now, when you read this Psalm, do not think that you are reading some Old Testament story about David and his desire to build a temple. That is in the background of the Psalm, but the Psalm is really speaking about the Lord Jesus and His Church. It is really speaking about Christ and ourselves. We have seen that He is the One who sits upon the throne of David forever. After David died, there were many kings who sat upon his throne, but they did not sit there very long, they came and they went. One after another came and went until you get to the end of the Old Testament and there is no one there at all.
Now God made a covenant with David, that one of his seed should sit on that throne, not for a temporary time, but for a very long time, and that is fulfilled in Christ. But the other half of the covenant is that His children shall sit also on the throne! You remember the words of the message to the church in Laodicea, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with My Father in His throne". Dear friends, we are called to share the throne with the Lord Jesus... to reign with Him for ever and ever. We are those children to whom this covenant has been made, but do let us seek to have this one object: that God should have a Place. I want to get that thought through to you and leave it with you today.
Why are you in this part of the world? I wonder if you have ever asked yourselves that question. Why are we here? Now, the only right answer ought to be this: we are here to make a Place for the Lord. The only great desire of God has ever been to have a place that He may dwell in; a people in the midst of whom He can be in residence. That is the one great desire of the Lord. That desire ought to be in our hearts also; the one thing for which you ought to be in this place is to make a place for the Lord.
What is the Church? What is any company of the Lord's people? Well, it is not so that many people can come together and have meetings, sing hymns and read the Bible and have messages given to them. All that is a part of it, but the real purpose of our being in any place is that the Lord shall be there; to make a Home for the Lord so that anybody and everybody who wants to find the Lord can find Him in our midst. Anybody who wants to know what the Lord is like can find that out by coming among us. The one thing that they have to say by coming into our midst is to say "The Lord is with His people." They may have to say, "I don't understand what they are speaking about, I can't understand all their teaching, but this one thing I do know: when I go in amongst them, I know that there is God."
This is what our hearts ought to be – to be a Place for the Lord so that all who want the Lord can find Him amongst us. So we must provide the Lord with a Place, and see that that Place always shows forth what He is like so that nothing amongst us shall dishonour the Lord, but all shall see the beauty of the Lord in the midst of us.
Now, there is a lot more in this Psalm if you want to look at it, but what I have said today relates to the whole. It is our Psalm, it is not a Psalm for ancient Israel, it is our Psalm. We read it in a time when this Psalm is being fulfilled. We are the Seed of Christ. We are called to share with Him in His throne. We are to be a Place for God. If we realize how great our privilege is, then perhaps these words will be fulfilled, "Let thy saints shout for joy."
It is a wonderful thing to realise that all that is in this Psalm relates to us; it relates to you, dear friends. There is no Psalm in all the book of Psalms that has more to do with the Lord Jesus than this Psalm, and yet it is because it belongs to the Lord Jesus that it belongs to us. We are the people to whom this Psalm refers.
May we realise how great a thing it is that God has called us into and if we do, we shall be the saints that shout for joy! I would like to feel that you go away from this meeting saying "Do you know that I am one of the Seed of Jesus Christ and that I have been called to share His throne forever? Isn't that wonderful? I am a part of the House of God, the Place where God dwells and at the same time I am called into fellowship with the Lord Jesus in building that House."
Well, may the Lord make this all clear to us and show us how great a privilege it is to be the House of God.