“Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.” – Psalm 132:8
David longed to “find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.” The temple in Jerusalem was, however, built by his son Solomon. And we read further on in the Psalm, “The Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest forever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.”
The dwelling place of the Lord was considered the same as that of the ark, wherein were kept the two tables of stone on which were written the ten commandments. The ark went before the Israelites on their journeys through the wilderness. Spiritually it is the ark which we must follow on our journey, in which we go up from the Egypt of worldly knowledge to our spiritual homes. That is to say, the commandments are a summary of our duty to the Lord and to our fellow men, and are a sure guide to eternal happiness. Moreover, they are a covenant, a bond of union between the Lord and mankind. Obedience to them is obedience to the Lord. In keeping them we hearken to the Lord’s voice, shunning the evils that they forbid, not from fear of punishment but because they are sins against God. The commandments are a covenant, an essential part of the relationship between us and our Heavenly Father. The sincerity of our worship is measured by our keeping of these laws.
The ten commandments, as an epitome of the truth which is essential to man’s life, represent that truth itself – the Word – and our allegiance to the Lord makes one with our allegiance to the Word. Without the Word we should have no knowledge of God. Nowhere else are we made acquainted with His wishes or with the laws of His providence. Nowhere else can we learn about His operation in history or about His dealings with men. Were the Word blotted out of existence and memory, the state of mankind would be hopeless indeed. All the vital and uplifting influences of life would disappear if Moses and the Prophets, the Psalms, the Gospels, and the Apocalypse were lost. The means of salvation would be taken from us.
So the Scriptures are the ark of our covenant. To us they furnish a point of contact with God, no less marked than that which the ark with its two tables of stone afforded to the children of Israel. In this sense the text has even its literal application to us today. “Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength” is a prayer for the presence with us of the Lord in the Word as we worship Him.
We know that in past times the Word has been imperfectly understood. That a meaning was hidden within its letter has been known from the earliest time, but no system of interpretation was available. Today something of this inner meaning can be known, and it can be clearly seen that the Word is Divinely inspired, that the Word is in all the heavens, and that angelic wisdom is from it. Under the influence of the teachings revealed in the Second Coming we can see the Word is the holiest thing on earth, the appointed means of man’s conjunction with the Lord and consociation with the angels. The Lord Himself is seen in the Word and His voice is heard speaking ever living and eternal messages revealing the truth which is the same yesterday, today, and forever, establishing a new, deeper, and more definite relationship between us and our Heavenly Father.
“Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.” The Word is at rest when it is received in our hearts and loved. The Divine truth thus received becomes the means by which the Lord governs in our lives. Divine truth is the ark of His strength. We read, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”
By many today the Bible is thought to be the work of men and is subjected to criticism. But let us rather, like little children, seek in it with implicit confidence the guidance of our Heavenly Father. This we can do now that the Word has been opened so that we can see that the Lord is its Author. Looking to the Lord in His Word we shall commune with Him. Desiring to learn His will that we may do it we shall receive the light and help we need. Searching the Scriptures in accordance with His injunction we shall find in them the lessons of eternal life, and shall see that they everywhere testify of Him. We shall learn by experience that He still dwells between the cherubim, to teach, to guide, and to comfort those who seek Him in His Word.
There are two ways of living. One is to live for this world; the other is to live for heaven. We all begin by making the world the goal of our hopes and endeavors. But this world is not all there is to live for. Without the Word our vision would be narrowed to the plane of the senses, and all the higher planes of the mind would be closed. The Scriptures broaden our field of vision to include the spiritual world, which is shown to be in constant connection with us. All life is in its origin and essence spiritual. The things of the world about us are forms and expressions of the spiritual world within us. The natural sun exists from the spiritual sun; our natural bodies exist from our spiritual bodies. And all life is from God. We and all things exist from His presence. If He were to withdraw, even for a moment, we should cease to be. How blind are those who do not see that there is a God who is the Source of all things!
These truths are revealed in the inner meaning of the Scriptures. They show us that God has revealed Himself from the beginning, that He created men in His own image and after His own likeness. When men departed from him, He sent prophets to teach and guide them according to their needs and their ability to receive. But there came a time then He could no longer reach them in this manner, so widely had they departed from His commandments. Their Creator must become their Redeemer and Savior. That He Himself would come and no other is the message of His prophets.
The birth and life of Jesus Christ were the fulfillment of these promises. By His coming in our flesh the power of evil was broken. Into the pit which devils digged for Him they fell themselves. By the Incarnation the Father was made visible and comprehensible. All power is His in heaven and on earth. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Such is the God whom the Scriptures disclose when they are read in the light of their deeper meaning. The whole Word, from Genesis to Revelation, bears witness of Him. His assumption and glorification of the human is the underlying omnipresent theme which runs through the Bible. To know Him as the Divinely Human One brings Him very near and makes Him most real to us. On Him our thoughts can rest and to Him our affections can go forth. He is present with us in our earthly life no less than He is present with the angels in heaven. Our part is to keep Him ever in our remembrance and to love, worship, and obey Him.
“The ark of thy strength!” This power the Bible holds, has held, and will continue to hold because the Lord is present with us in it to enlighten, uphold, and bless. On Him our thoughts can rest, and our affections can go forth to Him as to the closest of our friends. Our simple part is to keep Him ever in remembrance and to love and worship and obey Him. If we humbly seek Him in His Word, we shall always find Him there; we shall hear His voice and learn His commandments that we may do them. Then shall we receive His spirit of love and peace.
It is the Lord’s desire to find an abiding place in our minds and hearts, and to Him we should offer the prayer: “Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.”