Psalm 24: the King of glory
Psalm 24 A psalm of David. (1) The earth is the LORD's and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. (2) For he laid the earth's foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths. (3) Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? (4) Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. (5) They will receive the LORD's blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. (6) Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob. Interlude (7) Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. (8) Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty; the LORD, invincible in battle. (9) Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. (10) Who is this King of glory? The LORD of Heaven's Armies- he is the King of glory. Interlude (NLT)
What a beautiful little psalm! Above is the New Living Translation of Psalm 24. The NLT is what Bible scholars call a “Dynamic Equivalency” translation. There are two types of Bible translations; those which seek to translate word for word called “Formal Equivalence” (ESV, NASB) and those which seek to translate ideas instead called “Dynamic Equivalence” (NIV, NLT). Here’s an interesting article.
Some Bible scholars believe this psalm was written around the time king David finally brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. David made sure that the moving of the ark was a time of celebration, joy, and honor to God, all acts of great worship to the Lord.
When those who were carrying the ark of the LORD had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets. 2 Samuel 6:13-15
Psalm 24 could very well be a piece of that time of celebration, but also more than that. Maybe David writes of the literal ascension of the ark (the throne of God on earth for the ancient nomadic Israelites) but he also sings of the ascension of the Lord, the King of Glory, onto His heavenly throne of power over all that He has created.
The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. Psalm 24:1 NLT
This single verse brings the children of God such peace and reassurance.
Do you sometimes feel like Satan is in control? That evil is lurking all around us? Hiding around every corner?
In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul refers to Satan as the “god of this age.”
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4
Do you ever feel like Satan is running the show? Do you ever look around and only see darkness and sadness? Is the devil, in fact, the “god of this age?”
Take heart, my friends.
All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. John 1:3 This is what God the LORD says- the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who give breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it. Isaiah 42:5 But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of revery creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:7-10
Although it may feel like Satan is in control, he is not. God gave life and breath to everything that has lived or ever will live. Man makes choices that cause sin, suffering, and pain, but God is still in control of all things. He shows you His great love and reassurance in the sunrise and sunset, in the moon and the stars. Take heart and look at the beauty all around you.
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? Who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. Psalm 24:3-4 ESV
Do you feel worthy to “stand in his holy place?” Who has a right to stand before God in His holy place? What does this even mean?
It’s interesting that this psalm established God as Creator and ruler over all things, but then zeros in on the heart. The great Creator of the universe cares most of all about our hearts. He knows our hearts. He wants our hearts to be His, and His alone.
The covenant of the New Testament through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ changed things from during David’s time. Paul points out this:
But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. Romans 3:21-23 NLT
In other words, no one can stand in His holy place without Jesus.
Thanks to Jesus’s “clean hands” and “pure heart,” we can stand on the Lord’s holy hill; we can ascend into His presence.
Our Lord Jesus Christ could ascend into the hill of the Lord because his hands were clean and his heart was pure, and if we by faith in him are conformed to his image we shall enter too.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah Psalm 24:5-6 ESV
Here Daivd is possibly referring to part of the story in 2 Samuel 6 about Obed-Edom and his family, but again, his meaning is also so much greater than that.
The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household. 2 Samuel 6:11
Being in the presence of the Lord does not mean that we have perfect lives. We know this. But what it does mean is that His presence is all that we need, blessing enough. That when we look back on our lives, the times when we felt peace, true joy, and hope, were those times when we were walking with the Lord. Thankfully we don’t need to carry an ark around and dance in front of it. But when we walk with the Lord, when He is truly present in our lives, we do look different. We feel different on the inside, and to others we look and act differently than the world.
The final section of Psalm 24 is a great celebration of the Lord returning to His people. What a beautiful way to end this little song.
When the King of England wishes to enter the city of London through Temple Bar, the gate closed against him, the herald demands entrance. “Open the gate!” From within a voice is heard, “Who is there?” The herald answers, “The king of England!” The gate at once is opened, and the king passes, amidst the joyful acclimations of his people.Christmas Evans, Baptist minister, 1766-1838
Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty; the LORD, invincible in battle. Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The LORD of Heaven's Armies- he is the King of glory. Interlude Psalm 24:7-10 NLT
Some Bible commentators suggest that Jewish tradition had Psalm 24 read in worship the first day of the week (Sunday). So, some suggest it’s possible that this psalm was read or sung as Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem beginning what we call Holy Week on Palm Sunday. How wonderful.
Open up! Let the King of glory enter! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies- He is the King of glory!
Psalm 24 is a celebration of the King’s return to His temple; the Ark of the Covenant finally entered Jerusalem, Jesus ascended into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday- and ultimately into heaven. Someday, when God Himself comes down to rule on earth, will we all sing this song again as the gates are opened finally for YHWH-Yahweh?
Will you open your heart to Him today?
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20
Father in heaven, thank you for the great promise of your love and faithfulness, that we are your children, and you desire a relationship with us. Give us strength and joy and peace today. May we open our hearts to you and come into your presence for the things that we need. Thank you that even when we feel darkness all around us that you are always in control, and nothing happens outside of your knowledge. Heal this world, protect our loved, strengthen your church. Amen.