“Until l 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” (Psalm 132:5,6).
David wanted to build a “place for the LORD,” and eventually his son Solomon did build the temple at Jerusalem. Yet David had already “heard of it at Ephratah” and “found it in the fields.” There was evidently a spiritual habitation there not just the physical temple. This clearly means more than just the anticipation of pilgrims as they journeyed up past Ephratah for the annual feast in Jerusalem.
Ephratah is the same as Bethlehem (Genesis 35:19) where Jacob’s beloved Rachel had died long ago. Bethlehem means “the house of bread,” evidently so named because of its abundant grain harvest, whereas Ephratah means “fruitful,” no doubt used in reference to the fruitful vines in the nearby “fields of the woods.”
Bethlehem Ephratah was, indeed, a fit habitation for “the mighty God of Jacob,” for that was where He first entered His created world as Jacob’s mighty Son, through Judah. “Thou, Bethlehem Ephrata . . . out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; . . . whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).
Out of “the house of bread” and the “fruitful vine” came “the bread of life” in His broken body and “the true vine” in His redeeming blood (John 6:48; 15:1). That marvelous provision of a living and eternal habitation, built first on suffering and death, was prefigured long ago in Rachel’s death, and then in her “weeping” over the babes in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16–18). It is now perpetually remembered by her spiritual children whenever we “eat of that bread, and drink of that cup,” and thereby “shew the Lord’s death until He come” (I Corinthians 11:28,26) once again to His earthly habitation. HMM