Psalm 24 - The King Comes Home - Page #1 (series: Lessons on Psalms)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

May 21, 2014
Tom Lowe
Psalm 24 (KJV)

Title: The King Comes Home
A psalm of David.

Psalm 24 (KJV)

1 The earth is the LORD'S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
2 For he hath founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods.
3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.
7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

This psalm speaks of the coming of the Chief Shepherd. Tradition says it was composed by David and sung when he brought up the ark from the house of Obed-edom at Kirjath-jearim to mount Zion (2 Sam 6:12-23). The ark, according to tradition was built by Bezalel for Moses in the wilderness of Sinai (Ex. 37:1-9), signified God’s presence in the midst of His people. For seven months the Philistines had kept it under lock and key until finally, deciding it was too hot to hold, they returned it to Israel. It had resided at Kirjath-jearim on the western border of Benjamin in the rugged wooded highlands during the days of Samuel and Saul.

David himself had made one desperate attempt to bring it to Jerusalem after he had rested the fortress of Zion from the Jebusites. But now the time had come and the ark began its journey home. The historian tells us of the music and dancing, of the shouting and sacrifices which marked the triumphal entry of the ark into Jerusalem. Psalm 24 gives us the anthem which heralded the ark along the way.

When the temple came to be built in Jerusalem various psalms were sung as part of the daily liturgy. On Monday it was Psalm 48, Tuesday Psalm 82, Wednesday Psalm 94, Thursday Psalm 81, Friday Psalm 93, and on the Sabbath Psalm 92. On the first day of the week, they sang Psalm 24. The very day Jesus tore away the bars of death and marched in triumph from the tomb the Temple choir was scheduled to sing this victorious Psalm.

The psalm was sung in a responsive way, that is, one person or choir would sing and another would respond. It has been suggested that it was sung by the chorus and solo voices of the procession. Josephus, the Jewish historian, says that seven choirs of singers and musicians marched before the ark as it was brought to Mount Zion where David had prepared a tabernacle for it until the temple was built.

This psalm was part of the religious ceremonies held during the Jewish New Year to mark the entrance of the ark into the sanctuary. The ceremony was held year after year in such a manner that everyone could take part, from king to commoner, in a renewal of loyalty to God. This noble hymn is one of the most exalted and majestic in the Book of psalms and has found a home in the anthems and solos of Judaism and Christianity.

It must have been wonderful to have heard this psalm sung in David’s day.

Some commentators connect Psalm 24 with our Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday. For years, some Christian denominations have assigned this psalm to be read on Ascension Day, the fortieth day after Easter. Christians see Jesus Christ as “the Lord of glory,” first of all returning to heaven after His passion (Eph. 4:8{5]), and then returning in glory to establish His kingdom (Matt. 25:31{6]). This explains the repetition of “Lift up your heads” in verses 7 and 9.

There is another way to apply this psalm and frankly, I love to think of it in this way—that is, that it looks forward to a glorious event which occurs at the end of the Great Tribulation. The thunders of God’s judgments have ceased, the Lord Jesus has returned to earth and has put down all His foes, and Christ is now marching to Jerusalem to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. This is a triumphal procession as the world has never seen. Even as the onlookers were startled by the depths of the Savior’s suffering, so they are now speechless at the height of His glory.


Chorus of the Procession
1 The earth is the LORD'S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

Verses 1 and 2 are a hymn of praise to the Lord and in the first line, it celebrates Him as the owner of the physical earth and all that that includes— in particular, the habitable world and all who live in it. “The earth and man is the LORD'S”. David speaks of Him again as the Creator. This earth belongs to Him by right of creation and redemption. The earth does not belong to the Republicans or the Democrats. It does not belong to the president or the Pope. It does not belong to the communists or the United Nations. Nor does it belong to the devil, who is a usurper and will be thrown out. “All the earth is mine,” (Ex. 19:5), says the Creator, but in His goodness He has shared it with us. He is the possessor of heaven and earth (Ge. 14:19, 22{7]), and we are guests on His planet, stewards of all He has given us to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17{8]) and to make use of. There are so many people today who want to run this earth, but it literally belongs to God. But why does God own it? The answer is given in verse 2.

2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

On the third day of creation God said, “. . . Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas: and God saw that it was good” (Ge. 1:9-10). When God gathered the waters together, submerged land appeared out of the water. It was life out of death, and it speaks of resurrection and order. God reduced the watery chaos to order and firmly founded the earth upon that order. Once there existed floods, “the fountains of the great deep” (Ge. 7:11), “the waters under the earth” (Ex. 20:4), sometimes viewed as a crouching dragon controlling the springs (Deut. 33:13{1]). But upon those vast chaotic floods the Lord imposed His own mighty control and “established” the earth. We can sense here features of the combat between those seas and floods† and the Lord, which we have seen finally portrayed in Psalm 93. That combat forms the background of this brief hymn.

†By the seas and floods he means the whole collection of waters, as well as the seas and rivers running into it, as well as the great abyss of waters contained in the bowels of the earth.

3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

Now it is true that the earth is the Lord’s, that every nook and cranny is His,

He owns the cattle on a thousand hills
The wealth in every mine:
He owns the rivers, and the rocks and the rills,
The sun and stars that shine.

But there is one spot on earth to which He holds special claim—the land of Israel. The Palestinian Arabs, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, and the PLO say it belongs to them and are prepared to perpetrate any act of terrorism to advertise their claim. It doesn’t belong to them at all! It belongs to God. It is called His land, and He has deeded it to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—to Isaac, not Ishmael; to the Jew, not the Arab. No world conference is ever going to change that—no summit meeting of the superpowers. The land of Israel is God’s land.

There is one spot of land which the Lord has singled out—the city of Jerusalem. The United Nations can declare Jerusalem an “International City,” but God says that Jerusalem is His. He calls it “the city of the Great King.”

In Jerusalem, there are two special spots: the hill and the holy place. The “hill” is Mount Zion crowned in David’s day by the great Jebusite fortress, sometimes called “the citadel of David.” The “holy place” is Mount Moriah, where later the Temple was to stand. God claims both these places in Jerusalem for Himself.

Verse 3 is in the form of a question, and the answer is in the next verse. With the mind’s eye we can visualize the procession stopping at the entrance to the tabernacle (and later, to the Temple) where they recite in singing tones the question of who may be permitted to enter the sacred area.

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