Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Selah Psalm 24:7-10, ESV
Israel sang Psalm 24 on her way to the tabernacle for worship. We feel their emotion in these final verses. The gatekeepers and doorkeepers of the tabernacle are asked to stand up straight and take notice because the King of glory, the Lord of hosts, is entering in.
We may get swept up in the regal nature and the beauty of the metrical praise of verses 7-10 and miss their message. Recall the six verses that came before them: The Creator God is King over His creation and is holy. His holiness is so great that anyone who desires to come into His presence must also be holy. Since man is not holy, God must save him and make him fit to enter. That was why Israel brought sacrifices to the tabernacle. But Psalm 24 says nothing about sacrifices. Instead, it moves from the description of a saving God who makes men holy to heralding the entry of the victorious King of glory, returning from battle. This would have brought to Israel’s mind the return of the ark of the covenant to the tabernacle after God had brought them victory in battle. He had saved them from their enemies and now they could again come to the tabernacle where God dwelt.
However, we truly need more than that. We need more than entry into a tent where God lives in the middle and we visit the outer areas with our sacrifices. The tabernacle of Israel was but a symbol. We need to be able to enter the true tabernacle in heaven. And, as this Psalm makes clear, we need a Savior to make us holy if we are to do so. Hebrews 9 explains how Christ, our victorious King, entered the true tabernacle and made His people holy so they could enter in.
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Heb 9:11–14
Read Psalm 24 again with Hebrews 9 in mind. Celebrate the King of glory, the Lord of hosts who entered into the holy place for us and offered Himself as a sacrifice to purify us and rescue us from our self-righteous and inadequate efforts to purify ourselves.
Believer, as you celebrate the King of glory, know that Christ will soon return and take you with Him to this holy place. As it is written, “Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” Heb 9:28.
Psalm 24 is clearly a joyous song. I pray that, whatever your day may hold, you will live today with joy and hope because you know the King of glory, the Lord of hosts.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 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.
5 He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah Psalm 24:3-6
Yesterday, I looked at the first two verses of Psalm 24 and David’s reminder of the foundation of our faith: All that exists, including mankind, belongs to the Creator God. Today, I am going to look at how David considers the requirement that is placed upon us as the result of that foundational truth. In the lyrics of Psalm 24:3-6, David describes the requirement for those who would dwell in God’s presence: holiness.
In this stanza of David’s great worship song, he asks and answers two related questions. “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?” Since David wrote this song to be sung during the procession of Israel to the temple, the first singers were literally acting out an entry into the presence of God. They were tangibly aware of their need to know the answer to these questions.
What about us today? Since Christ came as God in the flesh and dwelt among men, accomplished His work of salvation, ascended to the right hand of the Father, and sent the Spirit to dwell in His people, physical temples are no longer the place where God meets with men. Even so, that does not diminish our need to answer these questions. In fact, the greater intimacy of God’s meeting with men only enhances the need. Who dares to enter into the presence of the Almighty?
David’s answer is in verse 4. Only a holy and righteous person has a right to enter into the presence of a holy and righteous God. The approach may only be made by one whose hands, heart, soul, and lips are free from sin. That is the only kind of person who can expect God to bless him when he enters into the divine presence.
David is not naïve. He knows that there is no person on earth who fits this bill—not a sinless man, woman, boy, or girl to be found. How then can anyone approach God? The answer is in the second part of verse 5. To be righteous and come safely before God, a man must receive righteousness from the God who saves unrighteous men. The requirement to approach is purity. The only people who meet that requirement are those who have been purified by the God who rescues the impure.
We need to be holy, righteous, and pure to approach God. We are not. Thus we need a God who saves and makes us holy. Praise His name, that is our God! Tomorrow we will wrap up Psalm 24 and remind ourselves of just how God accomplished that salvation.
In the meantime, I pray that you know the saving grace of God and can rejoice in the great privilege of entering into His presence today.
The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers. Psalm 24:1-2, ESV
For the next three days, I am going to consider Psalm 24. Psalm 24 is a song that King David wrote for Israel to sing on her way to the temple for worship. It has three distinct parts:
vv. 1-2) The foundation: The earth belongs to God.
vv. 3-6) The requirement: Presence demands holiness.
vv. 7-10) The provision: The Holy One.
All conversations have to build on a foundation. There must be shared truth that both speaker and listener embrace if there is to be any meaningful exchange. Language itself is an example. If we are talking about baseball and I talk about the player “on the hot corner,” I am assuming that we share a foundational understanding of baseball lingo. I don’t want you to consider temperature variations on the field, but the player who plays third base.
The same is true when it comes to our faith. There are foundational truths upon which everything else builds. In Psalm 24, David reminds Israel of the foundation truth. There is one God whose name is Yahweh (“the LORD” in our English Bibles). He can claim ownership of all of creation and every creature in it because He founded and established it. God the Creator has ownership rights over His creation. Moses said the same, “Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it” (Dt 10:14).
As David evokes Genesis 1 imagery with his comments about seas and waters, we are reminded that we cannot have any meaningful conversation about God or the world around us until we agree with the Bible’s account of what happened in the beginning. Genesis 1 matters. Until we acknowledge our place in the world as those who dwell on God’s earth only by His indulgence, we cannot think or speak rightly about anything else.
We are painfully aware that we are not the only members of the “those who dwell therein” club. There is a nasty little virus out there that seems to be claiming more than its fair share of this world. Take heart, this virus is His, too. It only exists by His leave and is constrained by His will. In addition, the world leaders who are directing the response to this virus only exist by His leave and are constrained by His will. Remember, the earth is the Lord’s and all who dwell in it are His as well.
May the sovereignty of God be your comfort and strength today.
A great Psalm 24 song. May it help you hide its words in your heart.
Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace! Psalm 29:1-2, 10-11, ESV
Psalm 29 is rather unique. What makes it unique is that it begins with a call to worship—angelic worship! David is calling the angels to busy themselves in worship! They are to declare the glory and the holiness of the Lord.
Verses 3-10 go on to explain what it is about God that makes Him so praise-worthy in the heavens. They describe God as the sovereign ruler over the things of the earth. He is in control of waters, weather, forests, and animals. His voice is the power that brings life and brings destruction. As the heavenly host observe the majestic rule of God the King exercised below, they are commanded to praise Him above.
While it is good to know that the heavenly beings are to praise God, we are not heavenly beings. Even so, there is a word for us. The angelic creatures are to praise God as King forever over all things on the earth (v.10). For this reason, David can turn to God the Almighty King and ask Him to strengthen His people and bring them peace (v.11). The sovereignty of God over all creation that is so awe-inspiring that it results in worship in heaven is the same sovereignty that is our source of strength and peace here and now.
There can be little doubt that we live in a day when we are all longing for some strength and peace. Strength to deal with all that this virus and its social isolation are throwing our way. Peace in the place of fear of sickness and economic ruin. Strength to deal with the strange new world it seems we will be living in for quite some time. Peace to know that there is a King who loves us and is absolutely in control of it all.
Good news! God, the sovereign ruler over everything, stands ready to deliver strength and peace to you this very moment. He proved His willingness when He sent His Son to die for your sins and conquer death, the grave, and hell.
May the King give strength to you today!
May the King bring you peace today!
 The “heavenly beings” in verse 1 are literally “sons of God” in Hebrew. “The Old Testament uses the term ‘son(s) of God’ or ‘God’s son(s)’ to refer to kings (Pss 2:7; 89:27), heavenly beings (Gen 6:2; Pss 29:1; 82:6; Job 1:6), and Israel (Exod 4:22–23; Hos 11:1). The term usually serves to designate special agents of God’s will and the recipients of His love (Psa 89:1–4; Hos 11:1; Deut 32:8–9 DSS).” David Seal, “Son of God,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham: Lexham Press, 2016).
In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me! Psalm 31:1-2, ESV
We are not kings. We do not have political enemies plotting our demise. Nobody has devised a plot to kill us to gain our throne. We are not locked up in a city under siege by enemy armies. So, we do not bring the same literal concerns to God today that David did in Psalm 31.
Even so, some of us may be familiar with David’s outlook. We can relate to verse 22, “I had said in my alarm, ‘I am cut off from your sight.’” In these days defined by a pandemic and its partners, social isolation and economic fear, this feeling seems all too familiar to us. We are alarmed at what we see. We wonder if God even sees what is happening to us. After all, is He not our omnipotent Father? How could He see this happening and not help us? We cry, “God, where are you? Don’t you see what is happening to us? God come and save us from this!” We understand the need to cry out to God in despair.
But familiarity with despair and cries for help is not the goal of this Psalm. The ultimate goal is to remind us that God will hear our cry and save us. God wants us to know that He sees our turmoil and that, in our tempest, He is ready and willing to come to His people in righteousness and save us and bring us to Himself, for He is our true refuge in times of storm.
Psalm 31 does not end with a cry, but with thanksgiving and encouragement (vv.21-24):
Blessed be the LORD,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
I had said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to you for help.
Love the LORD, all you his saints!
The LORD preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD!
Maybe you are ready to cry out in despair even today. Go ahead and do that. But cry out in faith as well. Take courage. God hears your cry. He is full of steadfast love, righteousness, and mercy and stands ready to save.
I pray you will find refuge in Him today,