Psalms 24

PSALM XXIV

The Lord is Sovereign Ruler of the universe, 1, 2.

The great question, Who is fit to minister to the Lord in his

own temple? 3-6.

The glory of God in his entrance into his temple, 7-10.

NOTES ON PSALM XXIV

It is probable that this Psalm was composed on occasion of

bringing the ark from the house of Obed-edom to Mount Sion, and

the questions may respect the fitness of the persons who were to

minister before this ark: the last verses may refer to the opening

of the city gates in order to admit it. As many of the expressions

here are nearly the same with those in Psalm xv., I must refer to

that place for their particular illustration; though it is most

likely that the two Psalms were composed on very different

occasions. The first contains a general question relative to who

shall be saved? This is more particular; and refers to the temple

and tabernacle service, and who is fit to minister there.

Verse 1. The earth is the Lord's] He is the Creator and Governor

of it; it is his own property. Men may claim districts and

kingdoms of it as their property, but God is Lord of the soil.

The fullness thereof] "All its creatures."-Targum. Every tree,

plant, and shrub; the silver and the gold, and the cattle on a

thousand hills.

They that dwell therein.] All human beings.

Verse 2. He hath founded it upon the seas] He not only created

the vast mass, but separated the land from the waters, so that the

mountains, &c., being elevated above the waters, appear to be

founded on them, and notwithstanding all the tossings and ragings

of the ocean, these waters cannot prevail. It is established upon

the floods, and cannot be shaken.

Verse 3. Who shall ascend] Who is sufficiently holy to wait in

his temple? Who is fit to minister in the holy place?

Verse 4. He that hath clean hands] He whose conscience is

irreproachable; whose heart is without deceit and uninfluenced by

unholy passions.

Who hath not lifted up his soul] Who has no idolatrous

inclination; whose faith is pure, and who conscientiously fulfils

his promises and engagements.

Verse 5. He shall receive the blessing] Perhaps alluding to

Obed-edom, at whose house the ark had been lodged, and on whom God

had poured out especial blessings.

And righteousness] Mercy: every kind of necessary good. It is

the mercy of God that crowns the obedience and fidelity of good

men. For what made them good and faithful? God's mercy. What

crowns their fidelity? God's mercy.

Verse 6. This is the generation] This is the description of

people who are such as God can approve of, and delight in.

That seek thy face, O Jacob.] It is most certain that

Elohey, O God, has been lost out of the Hebrew text in most

MSS., but it is preserved in two of Kennicott's MSS., and also in

the Syriac, Vulgate, Septuagint, AEthiopic, Arabic, and

Anglo-Saxon. "Who seek thy face, O God of Jacob."

Selah.] That is, It is confirmed; it is true. The persons who

abstain from every appearance of evil, and seek the approbation of

God, are those in whom God will delight.

Verse 7. Lift up your heads, O ye gates] The address of those

who preceded the ark, the gates being addressed instead of the

keepers of the gates. Allusion is here made to the triumphal

entry of a victorious general into the imperial city.

In the hymn of Callimachus to Apollo, there are two lines very

much like those in the text; they convey the very same sentiments.

The poet represents the god coming into his temple, and calls upon

the priests to open the doors, &c.

αυτοινυνκατοχηεςανακλινεσθεπυλαως

αυταιδεκληιδεςογαρθεοςουκετιμακραν

"Fall back, ye bolts; ye pond'rous doors, give way;

For not far distant is the god of day."

Callim. Hymn in Apol., ver. 6, 7.

The whole of this hymn contains excellent sentiments even on the

subject of the Psalms.

Everlasting doors] There seems to be a reference here to

something like our portcullis, which hangs by pullies above the

gate, and can be let down at any time so as to prevent the gate

from being forced. In the case to which the psalmist refers, the

portcullis is let down, and the persons preceding the ark order it

to be raised. When it is lifted up, and appears above the head or

top of the gate, then the folding doors are addressed: "Be ye lift

up, ye everlasting doors;" let there be no obstruction; and the

mighty Conqueror, the King of glory, whose presence is with the

ark, and in which the symbol of his glory appears, shall enter.

Make due preparations to admit so august and glorious a Personage.

Verse 8. Who is this King of glory?] This is the answer of those

who are within. Who is this glorious King, for whom ye demand

entrance? To which they reply:-

The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.] It is

Jehovah, who is come to set up his abode in his imperial city:

He who has conquered his enemies, and brought salvation to Israel.

To make the matter still more solemn, and give those without an

opportunity of describing more particularly this glorious

Personage, those within hesitate to obey the first summons: and

then it is repeated, Ps 24:9.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye

everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.] To which

a more particular question is proposed:-Who is HE, THIS King of

glory? To which an answer is given that admitted of no reply. The

Lord of hosts-he who is coming with innumerable armies, He is this

King of glory. On which, we may suppose, the portcullis was lifted

up, the gates thrown open, and the whole cavalcade admitted. This

verse seems to have been spoken before the ark appeared: Who is

this ( zeh) King of glory? when its coming was merely announced.

In the tenth verse the form is a little altered, because the ark,

the symbol of the Divine Presence, had then arrived. Who is He,

( mi hu,) this King of glory? Here He is, to answer for

himself. "The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep

silence before him."

Though this Psalm has all the appearance of being an unfinished

piece, yet there is a vast deal of dignity and majesty in it; and

the demands from without, the questions from those within,

and the answers to those questions, partake of the true sublime;

where nature, dignity, and simplicity, are very judiciously

mingled together. The whole procedure is natural, the language

dignified, and the questions and answers full of simplicity

and elevated sentiments.

Several, both among ancients and moderns, have thought this

Psalm speaks of the resurrection of our Lord, and is thus to be

understood. It is easy to apply it in this way: Jesus has

conquered sin, Satan, and death, by dying. He now rises from the

dead; and, as a mighty Conqueror, claims an entrance into the

realms of glory, the kingdom which he has purchased by his blood;

there to appear ever in the presence of God for us, to which he

purposes to raise finally the innumerable hosts of his followers;

for in reference to these, He is the Lord of hosts; and, in

reference to his victory, He is the Lord mighty in battle.

ANALYSIS OF THE TWENTY-FOURTH PSALM

The subject of this Psalm is Christ, called the King of glory,

Ps 24:7, and it has

two parts:-

I. The first concerns Christ's lordship, which is, in general,

over the whole world, Ps 24:1, 2; but in particular, over the

Church, Ps 24:3-7.

II. An exhortation to all men to receive Christ for their King.

I. The first part of this Psalm shows that God is King of all

the world; but in this kingdom he has two kinds of subjects-

1. Either all men in general: "For the earth is the Lord's, and

all that therein is; the compass of the world, and they that dwell

therein." And for this he gives a reason, from the creation of it.

He ought to have the dominion of it, and all in it: "For he hath

founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods."

2. But all are not his subjects in the same way. There are a

people whom he has called to be his subjects in another manner.

There is a mountain which he hath sanctified and chosen above all

other hills to make the seat of his kingdom, viz., the Church; and

over them that live in it he is in a more peculiar manner said to

be Lord, than of the whole earth; and these are more properly

called his servants and subjects. And yet among these there is a

difference too, for some only profess to be his servants, and call

him Lord, as hypocrites; there are some others that are his

servants really and truly. And that this difference may be taken

notice of, the prophet asks, Quis? "WHO shall ascend into the hill

of the Lord?" And "WHO shall stand in his holy place?" As if he

should say, Not quisquis; it is not every one; for infidels are

not so much as in the Church. Hypocrites, howsoever in the Church,

are not true members of the mystical Church; and some who come to

the hill of the Lord, yet stand not in his holy place; for many

believe only for a season, and few continue faithful unto death.

3. That it may then be truly known who they are over whom he is

truly Rex gloriae, "the King of glory," the prophet gives us their

character, and sets down three distinctive notes by which they may

be known:-

1. Cleanness of hands: "He that hath clenn hands;" a caede

furto, &c.; is free from all external wicked actions. For the hand

is οργανονοργανων, the organ of the organs.

2. Purity of heart. For external purity is not enough, except

the heart, the fountain of our actions, be clean.

3. Truth of the tongue. Is not guilty of lies and perjuries. "He

that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his

soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully." After the prophet has

given the character by which you may know the man, he assigns his

reward, and ends with an acclamation. 1. This is he that "shall

receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness (i.e.,

justification) from the God of his salvation." 2. "This is the

generation of them that seek thee;" that is, these are the people

of God: let others boast themselves, and please themselves as they

list, yet these are the godly party; these are they "that seek thy

face, O God of Jacob."

II. The second part is considered by some as an exhortation to

all men, especially princes, nobles, and magistrates, that they

receive, acknowledge, and worship Christ, as King.

1. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; that is, as some understand

it-O ye princes that sit in the gates, lift up your heads and

hearts to him, that the King of glory may come in.

2. To which good counsel the prophet brings in the princes

asking this question: "Who is this King of glory!" to which he

answers, "The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle."

One who is able to bruise you to atoms with his iron rod, and will

do so if you reject him. And that the exhortation may pierce the

deeper, he doubles both it and the answer.

After all, the most natural meaning is that which is given in

the notes: from which we may infer:-

1. That the regal city is in no state of safety, if it have not

the ark of the Lord.

2. That the ark-even the purest form of sound words in devotion,

is nothing, unless they who minister and worship have clean hands

and pure hearts, endeavouring to worship God in spirit and in

truth.

3. That where the right faith is professed, and the worshippers

act according to its dictates, there is the presence and the

continual indwelling of God: "Lift up your heads, O ye gates-and

the King of glory shall come in."

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