“We heard it in Ephrathah, we came upon it in the fields of Jaar:” (Psalms 132:6 NIV)
Who, what or where is Ephrathah? And why are the fields of Jaar so significant? Ephrathah is associated with Bethlehem and the stories about Rachel & Ruth,
“Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty.” (Genesis 35:16 NIV)
“May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.” (Ruth 4:11 NIV)
Ephrathah is also mentioned as being the home territory of David and so it is a place with a rich history in the memories of the people of Israel and David’s family.
It is also connected with the promise of a Messiah,
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2
Compare the passage above with what we find in Matthew chapter 2,
“When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’’ (Matthew 2:4-6 NIV)
Jaar is an abbreviation for Kiriath-Jearim, where the ark was housed while ‘lost’.
“So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the LORD. They took it to Abinadab’s house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the LORD. It was a long time, twenty years in all, that the ark remained at Kiriath Jearim, and all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the LORD.” (1 Samuel 7:1–2 NIV)
The word Jaar means ‘wood’ or ‘thicket’ which draws attention to the ark being ‘lost’ there. Someone might ask, “Where is the ark?”, and the reply might be, “It’s somewhere in the woods.” It had been neglected, (see 1 Chron 13:3), but David brought it back to Jerusalem to give it the honour it deserved.
Ephrathah and Jaar symbolised the line of David, the hope of a Messiah-King, and connected that with the presence of God – the ark, the temple, and, in future the Messiah who brings us into the presence of God personally. They reminded God’s people of His presence. The communion does that for us today. To refresh your awareness of God being with you today why not pray through this great song,
King of my life, I crown Thee now, Thine shall the glory be; Lest I forget Thy thorny crown, Lead me to Calvary.
Lest I forget Gethsemane,
Lest I forget Thine agony;
Lest I forget, O Lord,
Thy love for me,
Lead me to Calvary.