Pope Benedict XVI- Audiences
“A place for the Lord”
H.H. Benedict XVI
September 14, 2005
Dear Brothers and
We have heard the first part of Psalm 132, a hymn that the
Liturgy of Vespers offers us at two different times. Many scholars
think that this song would have rung out during the solemn
celebration of the transportation of the Ark of the Lord, a sign of
divine presence amid the people of Israel in Jerusalem, the new
capital chosen by David.
In the narrative of this event, as told in the Bible, we read that
King David "girt with a linen apron (efod),
came dancing before the Lord with abandon, as he and all the
Israelites were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts of joy
and to the sound of the horn" (II Sm 6: 14-15).
Other experts, instead, relate Psalm 132 to a commemorative
celebration of that ancient event, after David himself had
instituted the worship in the Sanctuary of Zion.
2. Our hymn seems to suggest a liturgical dimension: it was in all
likelihood sung during a procession with the presence of priests and
faithful and included a choir.
Following the Liturgy of Vespers, let us reflect on the first 10
verses of the Psalm that has just been proclaimed. At the heart of
this section is the solemn oath pronounced by David. Indeed, it says
that, having left behind him the bitter struggle with his
predecessor, King Saul, David "swore to the Lord, his vow to the
Strong One of Jacob" (Ps 132: 2). The content of this solemn
commitment, expressed in verses 3-5, is clear: the sovereign will
not set foot in the royal palace of Jerusalem, he will not go calmly
to rest until he has found a dwelling place for the Ark of the Lord.
And this is a very important thing, because it shows that at the
heart of the social life of a city, of a community, of a people
there must be a presence that calls to mind the mystery of the
transcendent God, a proper space for God, a dwelling for God. Man
cannot walk well without God; he must walk together with God through
history, and the task of the temple, of the dwelling of God, is to
point out in a visible way this communion, this allowing God to
3. Perhaps at this point, after David's words, a liturgical choir's
words prepare the way for the memory of the past. In fact, it
recalls the rediscovery of the Ark in the plains of Yearím in the
Éphrata region (cf. v. 6): it had been left there for a long time
after the Philistines had restored it to Israel, which had lost it
during a battle (cf. I Sm 7: 1; II Sm 6: 2, 11).
Thus, it was taken from the province to the future Holy City; and
our passage ends with a festive celebration which, on the one hand,
shows the people worshipping (cf. Ps 132: 7, 9), that is, the
liturgical assembly, and on the other, the Lord who returns to make
himself present and active in the sign of the Ark set in place in
Zion (cf. v. 8), that is, in the heart of his people.
The heart of the liturgy is found in this intersection between
priests and faithful on one side, and the Lord with his power on the
4. A prayerful acclamation on behalf of the kings, the successors of
David, seals the first part of Psalm 132. "For the sake of
David your servant do not reject your anointed" (v. 10).
One sees, then, the future successor of David, "your anointed". It
is easy to perceive a Messianic dimension in this supplication,
initially destined to implore support for the Hebrew sovereign in
his life's trials.
The term "anointed", in fact, expresses the Jewish term "Messiah":
the gaze of the praying person thus extends beyond the events in the
Kingdom of Judah to the great expectation of the perfect "anointed
One", the Messiah who will always be pleasing to God, and loved and
blessed by him, and will be not only for Israel, but the "anointed",
the king for all the world. He, God, is with us and awaits this
"anointed", come then in the person of Jesus Christ.
5. This Messianic interpretation of the future "anointed" will
dominate the Christian reinterpretation and will extend to the whole
For example, the analogy Hesychius of Jerusalem, a priest in the
first half of the fifth century, was to make between verse 8 and the
Incarnation of Jesus is significant. In his Second Homily on the
Mother of God, he addresses the Virgin in these words:
"Upon you and upon the One born of you, David does not cease to sing
to the zither: "Rise, O Lord, and come to the place of your rest,
you and the ark of your sanctification' (cf. Ps 132: 8). What
is "the ark of your sanctification?'". Hesychius replies: "The
Virgin Mother of God, of course. For if you are the pearl, she is
rightly the ark; if you are the sun, the Virgin must necessarily be
called the sky; and if you are the uncontaminated flower, then the
Virgin will be the plant of incorruption, the paradise of
immortality" (Testi mariani del primo millennio, I, Rome,
1988, pp. 532-533).
This double interpretation seems very important to me. The
"anointed" is Christ. Christ, the Son of God, is made flesh. And the
Ark of the Covenant, the true dwelling of God in the world, not made
of wood but of flesh and blood, is the Mother who offers herself to
the Lord as the Ark of the Covenant and invites us also to be living
dwellings for God in the world.
I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors present at
today's Audience, including the many pilgrims from England, Ireland,
Scotland, India, Indonesia, Japan, Puerto Rico and the United
States. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke the Lord's
Blessings of joy and peace.
Lastly, my thoughts go to the young people, the sick
and the newly-weds.
Today, we are celebrating the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy
Cross. I hope that you will always be able to find comfort and
support in this sign of salvation, to overcome every obstacle in
Let us end our meeting by singing the Pater Noster.
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