Growing up on a farm, I remember seeing the first signs of horns on our young calves.
After a few months you could feel little bumps on the tops of their heads, and before long, two bony knobs would show through.
Every horn begins as a little sprout. In time, it can grow into a powerful tool for the animal’s self-defense and aggression. This is why horns in the Bible are symbolic of strength and authority—to have horns is to have dominance and might.
In Psalm 132 the Psalmist looks forward to the arrival of a mighty descendant for David. For instance, He recalls in verse 11 the promise that God once made. The LORD had said in 2 Samuel 7 that there would always be a son of David in authority over Israel. That is now echoed in verse 11: “One of your own descendants I will place on your throne.”
And when David’s sons were faithful, they brought peace and blessing to the land. They led everyone in the goodness of God’s service.
The kings in David’s line weren’t perfect. That is why this psalm also speaks in the hope of a greater son, a worthy successor to David. Someone will come to rule his people in everlasting righteousness and to give them the full victory over all their stubborn enemies. This is what God promises in verse 17:
I will make a horn to sprout for David.
It is the promise of someone great, a noble king and brave warrior, a “horn for the people of the LORD.” But like every strong horn, this one will begin small. Jesus, the son of David, was born in his royal city of Bethlehem. He was just an infant then, weak and insignificant.
Yet already when he was born, his strength and glory began showing through. At his birth he was honoured and worshiped. He was given gifts, like a king would be. Zechariah sang that God has “raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David” (Luke 1:69).
In time this sprouting horn increased and grew. For Jesus was a king, but not of an earthly kingdom, and not in obvious ways. He was even willing to lay down his life to redeem sinners. This act of apparent weakness was actually an awesome accomplishment, for by it he totally conquered his enemies and he brought true peace to his people.
The horn that began as something so small and insignificant is now mighty indeed, for Christ rules with full power over heaven and earth. The great Son of David has immense dignity and honour, and he governs all things for the good of his church.
Today you and I have the privilege of being his people. We are led by his authority and we are protected by his might. Let us trust in the strength of our great King and submit to his good rule.