Psalm 24

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 18, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Psalm 24 is a wonderful psalm of worship and coming into the presence of Almighty God. This is what we do every time we gather together to praise and worship Him! While this was written many centuries ago, it’s still very applicable for today. Let’s dig in.

“​The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” (verses 1-2)

The Hebrew language has a few different words for “earth,” and the one used here is the same one that’s used in Genesis 1:1-2. It encompasses all of God’s creation on earth! You and I are included in this, as the psalm says “all who live in it.” We belong to God, not to ourselves.

God is the one who created, founded, and established the earth - not us. God is the one who has creative majesty and power over all the earth. No human could ever hold this power, even with all of our scientific and technological advances. Think about all the things we’re still not able to control, such as the weather and natural disasters. God is still sovereign over all these things. ALL of the earth belongs to the Lord. He is the almighty, powerful God, creator of the universe.

“​Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who many stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” (verses 3-4)

These two verses build on the previous two. Are we worthy to come before Almighty God? Can we stand in His holy place? Do we even compare to the majestic creator God who created this entire universe? Nope!

Only one who is worthy can do so, who has “clean hands and a pure heart.” The word for “hands” here specifically refers to the palm of your hand. If you’re holding something, it’s in your palm. Or if we wash our hands, we make sure our palms are clean. Our hands are often used to refer to our actions. The word “heart” here also refers to our mind or our will. It shows that our thoughts and intentions must be pure as well, not just our outward actions.

This section also says we must not “trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” We may think we’re doing well at this and could approach God, but we really aren’t. Just because you don’t have a statue you worship doesn’t mean you’re not worshiping an idol. We have all sorts of “little gods” in our lives - other people, our jobs, making or spending money, our material possessions, etc., basically anything that isn’t God. We like tangible things and have a hard time putting our trust in things we can’t see, touch, or feel, so it’s really easy to get distracted by the things of this world.

But we have more to the story today than the psalmist did. We know that Jesus is that person, the one with fully clean hands and a fully pure heart! Jesus never worshipped anyone but the one true God. He led a perfect, sinless life and died the death that we deserved, so that we have the opportunity to approach God. As this psalm says, we may “ascend the mountain of the Lord” because of Jesus.

“​They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior.” (verse 5)

This verse refers to the people in the previous verses, the ones with clean hands and a pure heart. These people will receive blessings from God. An interesting thing here in the Hebrew is the preposition that the NIV translates as “from.” Hebrew only has 3 primary prepositions, while English has many more, so there’s lots of ambiguity when translating. The preposition here could also mean “on account of.” So instead of saying “blessings from God,” we receive “blessings on account of God” - meaning on account of the sacrifice of Jesus, because He did the work for us. We didn’t do anything to earn it.

In the second half of this verse, the word “vindication” is better translated as “righteousness,” and again that same preposition occurs. We receive righteousness and are declared right by God on account of what He has done for us. While the name of Jesus is not specifically mentioned in this psalm, it’s clear that it’s all about His redemptive work on the cross.

“​Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.” (verse 6)

In the English, we see the word “seek” twice here, while in Hebrew it’s two different verbs. The first is seeking as in investigating, studying, or practicing something repeatedly. Blessings come to the one who repeatedly investigates and studies God. The second “seek” is more of a searching or inquiring about something. We should search for God and what He is doing in our everyday lives. Don’t just wait but be actively searching and inquiring for Him.

“​Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.” (verse 7)

There’s a shift in the psalm here to simply praising God and declaring Him as our King of glory. The gates and doors here are referring to the literal gates and doors they would have had back then in their walled cities, but figuratively they refer to opening our hearts and minds to God’s truth. We need to let God into our lives and allow Him to work through us so that His glory may be seen by all!

“​Who is this king of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” (verse 8) The natural question to ask is who is this person? We know that He is the Lord Jesus! He is strong, mighty, powerful, and heroic. These are extremely prized characteristics in Israel in that day, as warriors were needed to fend off enemies and conquer lands.

“​Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. ​Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty - he is the King of glory.” (verses 9-10)

This is one of those times we’re reminded that the psalms are the songs of the early church. We could think of this like a chorus in our modern songs, as verse 9 is an exact repeat of verse 7, and verse 10 is similar to verse 8. This emphasis shows just how important this point is.

So how can we apply this psalm to our lives today? Jesus needs to be the King of our lives, in that most important position above all else. Are you letting God rule over everything in your life, or are you taking that control for yourself? We know God will always be the King of the universe because He created it, but we can choose to believe and follow Him or not. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, and He must be our King of Glory. Will you choose Him today?

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