Jesus was a carpenter. After Jesus’ sermon in the synagogue of his hometown city (Nazareth), those who heard this local Preacher remarked incredulously “Is not this the carpenter?” (Mark 6:3) Often times, Jesus would draw on His pre-ministry vocation of carpentry to illustrate spiritual truth by using building metaphors. Probably the most popular of these is found in the sermon on the mount when Jesus compares those who hear His words and puts them into practice to a wise man who built his house on a rock, which in turn withstood high winds and rain, while everyone who rejects the words of Jesus, He says, is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand, and when the floods came, all was swept away and lost.
Many years before Jesus’ incarnation, there was a king who greatly desired to build. His name was David, and the building that he wished most of all to build was the temple of God. Because David had been a man of war, the Lord forbade David to build His temple, but instead promised that David’s son Solomon would build the temple. This is a critical piece of redemptive history, because it sets the stage for the construction of the place where God would rest among His people. Later on after the death of David, Solomon built the temple just as God had promised, and what a temple it was! In 1 Kings 8, we are given an account of what happened when the temple was completed and the ark of the covenant (which symbolized God’s presence) was brought into the temple. “And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.”
Psalm 132 is a commemoration of that great event in Israel’s past. One may notice that the caption at the top of the psalm reads ‘A Song of Ascents’. In fact, Psalms 120-134 are all Psalms of Ascent. These were termed as Psalms, or songs of Ascent because they were the Psalms sung by the Hebrew pilgrims as they went up (because Jerusalem sits at a higher elevation than the surrounding landmasses) to the temple in Jerusalem. As they walked along the way, these inspired songs would be recited from memory.
The Psalm is a prayer for the Lord to remember David’s vow, that he would not rest until he found a place for the Lord to dwell in. David was deeply committed to establishing a permanent temple where God and His people could meet, so much so that he hyperbolically spoke of refusing sleep until he saw it done.
The beauty of this Psalm is that it not only looks back at the temple dedication of David’s son Solomon, but it is also forward looking to the coming of David’s Greater Son, the fruit of David’s body (David’s descendant) who would be the builder of a true temple of God. The New Testament clearly saw Jesus as the fulfillment of this Psalm (Luke 1:32), and Jesus as the Builder of the final (eschatological) temple where God would dwell.
The Apostles would later pick up on this idea. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that they were the “temple of God” and that the “Spirit of God [dwelt] in them” (which is a clear parallel to the shekinah cloud which filled Solomon’s temple); I Cor 3 and 6. Peter tells us that we who are Christians are “like living stones who are being built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (again notice the temple language applied to Christians).
Yes, Jesus is a carpenter and a builder. In fact a great builder; in fact the greatest builder in the history of building! He is the One who is building His True temple; the Temple that He is the corner stone of, and that His Apostles and Prophets are the foundation of, and the Temple that is also called the “city which has foundations who BUILDER AND MAKER IS GOD.”
Just as David vowed that he would not go up to his bed, nor give rest to his eyes until he had found a place for God’s dwelling (Ps 132: 3-5), so it was said of our Lord that He “set His face toward Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) in David like determination, because the only way for this temple to be built, would be through the death of it’s builder on a cross of wood and nails (THE MOST BASIC OF BUILDING MATERIALS!!!)
May Christ, the Greater Temple builder than Solomon, the Greater Son of David, ever be praised for including us as “stones” (I Pet 2) in a house where He dwells.