Psalm 24: the King of glory
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.
(7)Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter.
(8)Who is the 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 the King of glory? The LORD of Heaven's Armies--he is the King of glory.
What a beautiful little psalm! As I am learning more about Bible translations, I chose to include the New Living Translation (NLT) above. The NLT is what scholars call a "Dynamic Equivalency" translation. A pastor at my church sent me an article explaining what the two different types of translations are. But the gist is that there are versions that seek to translate word for word (like the ESV that I use often) and there are translations that translate ideas instead (like the NIV and NLT). Here's a link to the article below if you want to learn more.
Some Bible scholars believe this psalm was written around the time that David finally brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. David made sure that the moving of the Ark was a time of celebration and joy and honor to God, all acts of great worship to the Lord. Read 2 Samuel 6 for the full story.
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 celebratory time, but it's definitely 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.
This single verse reassures my soul.
David Guzik says this, "there is a sense that the 'world' belongs to Satan. Satan is called the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4), and when he tempted Jesus with the promise of giving him the Kingdoms of this world, Jesus did not question the devil's ability to do so. Yet Satan can only do anything at God's allowance, so God's ultimate ownership is true."
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 feel darkness and sadness? Is the devil, in fact, the "god of this age?"
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
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.
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 every creature and the breath of all mankind.
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 and suffering and pain, but God is still in all things. He shows you His great love and reassurance in the sunrise and sunset, in the moon and stars, and even in the unconditional love of your dog. Take heart and look at the beauty 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. ESV
I can just picture the scene of 2 Samuel 6 as David danced and sang in front of the procession leading the Ark of the Covenant up the hill into Jerusalem.
But do you feel worthy to "stand in his holy place?" Who has a right to stand before God in his holy place?
It's interesting that this psalm established God as creator and ruler over all things, but then it zeros in on the heart. The great Creator of the universe cares most of all about what's in my heart, what's in your heart.
Thankfully the covenant of the New Testament changed things from during David's time. Paul says 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
Thanks to Jesus's clean hands and pure heart, I can stand on the Lord's holy hill; I 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."
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.
Here David is possibly referring to part of the story in 2 Samuel 6 about Obed-Edom and his family, but it 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 and 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 on the outside, we are different 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.
"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 18th century Baptist minister
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! Opening 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.
"Ancient Rabbinical sources tell us that, in the Jewish liturgy, Psalm 24 was always used in worship on the first day of the week. The first day of the week is our Sunday. So, putting these facts together, we may assume that these were the words being recited by the temple priests at the very time the Lord Jesus Christ mounted a donkey and ascended the rocky approach to Jerusalem."
--James Montgomery Boice
Therefore, Psalm 24 is a celebration of the King's return to His temple; the Ark of the Covenant finally entering Jerusalem, Jesus ascending into Jerusalem and ultimately into Heaven, and a heart's open door to welcome the Lord's presence.
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.
Father in heaven, thank you for the great promise of your love and that you stand at the door of our heart's, 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 those that we love, and strengthen Your church. Amen.