This Psalm concerns the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. It was probably penned when David brought up the ark to the place prepared for it. The intention was to lead the people above the pomp of external ceremonies to a holy life and faith in Christ, of whom the ark was a type.
Psalm 24 – A Psalm of David
The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded upon the seas, And established it upon the waters. Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah
We are His tenants
Henry says – The earth is the Lord’s and though He has prepared the throne of His glory in the heavens, yet His Kingdom rules over all. Even the worms of this earth are not below his notice, nor from under His dominion. When God gave the earth to the children of men, He only lent it out to them as tenants for: The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.
The contents of all the mines in the depths of the earth, the fruits it produces, all the beasts of the forest and the cattle upon a thousand hills, our lands and houses are all His. Any advancements by the skill and industry of man, are all His. So that, wherever a child of God goes, he may comfort himself with this, that he does not go off his Father’s ground.
We are not our own
That which falls to our share of the earth is but on loan to us. The habitable part of this earth (Prov. 8:31) is His in a special manner—the world and those who dwell in it. We ourselves are not our own, our bodies, our souls are not ours. All souls are mine, says God; for He formed our bodies and is the Father of our spirits. Our tongues are not our own; they are to be at His service. Even those of the children of men who do not know Him are His. God is graciously pleased to accept the devotions and services of His peculiar chosen people (Ps. 24:3-5). But it is not because He needs them, or can be benefited by them, for the earth is His and all in it, Exod. 19:5; Ps. 50:12.
This is to be applied to the dominion Christ has, as Mediator, over the utmost parts of the earth, which have been given Him for His possession. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. The apostle quotes this scripture twice in his discussion about things offered to idols, 1 Cor. 10:26, 28. “If it be offered to you, eat it, and ask no questions; for the earth is the Lord’s. It is God’s good creature, and you have a right to it, unless it had been offered up to an idol. This is a good reason why we should be content with our lot in this world, and not envy others; the earth is the Lord’s. He will do what He will with His own, and give to some more of it, to others less, as it pleases Him and is right for us.
He has established it
The earth is His by an indisputable title, for He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods, Ps. 24:2. It is His for He made it, founded it and fitted it for the use of man. The matter is His, for He made it out of nothing. The form is His, for He made it according to the eternal counsels and ideas of His own mind. He made it Himself, He made it for Himself; so that He is the sole, entire and absolute owner, and none can claim any of it, see Ps. 89:11, 12.
He founded it upon the seas, upon the floods, a weak and unstable foundation (one would think) to build the earth upon. Yet, if the Almighty power please, it shall bear the weight of this earth. The waters which at first covered the earth, and rendered it unfit for habitation, were ordered under it, that the dry land might appear, see Ps. 104:8, 9. He has established it and fixed it, so that, though one generation passes and another comes, the earth abides, Eccl. 1:4. The founding of the earth upon the floods should remind us how slippery and uncertain all earthly things are.
Who shall have communion with God now?
The things of this world, God has given to the children of men and we are much indebted to Him for them; but they will not be a full portion for us. This earth is God’s footstool and we are only here for a while. We must shortly go from here; Who then shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Who shall have communion with God now and go to heaven hereafter? Only a soul that knows and considers its own nature, origin and immortality.
When a soul has viewed the earth and the fullness of it we will sit down unsatisfied. There is not found among all the creatures a true and complete help-mate for us. So it causes us to think of ascending towards God, towards heaven and ask, “What shall I do to rise to that high place, that hill, where the Lord dwells and manifests Himself. How may I be acquainted with Him, and abide in that happy, holy place where He meets His people and makes them holy and happy? What shall I do that I may be of those whom God owns for His peculiar people?”
Those who pursue goodness
The hill of Zion on which the temple was built typified the church, both visible and invisible. When the people attended the ark in its holy place, David puts them in mind that these were but types of heavenly things. From these they should be led to consider the heavenly things themselves.
The characteristics those who shall have communion with God are those who keep themselves from all the gross acts of sin. They have clean hands; not spotted with the pollutions of the world and the flesh. Cleanness of conversation is also required in all those who are to have fellowship with God. The hands lifted up in prayer must be pure hands, no blot of unjust gain on them, nor anything else that defiles the man and is offensive to the holy God. They are those who pursue goodness.
We need to make a heart-work of it
They have pure hearts. Our faith means nothing if we do not make a heart-work of it. It is not enough that our hands be clean before men, we must also wash our hearts from wickedness. We must not allow ourselves any secret heart-impurities, which are open before the eye of God. Only those hearts that are sincere and carefully guarded, purified by faith and conformed to the image and will of God; see Matt. 5:8.
These are hearts that do not set their affections on the things of this world and do not lift up their souls to vane things. They are hearts that are not carried away with the wealth of this world, the praise of men, or the delight of senses. They are those who deal honestly with God and man. They have not sworn deceitfully, nor broken their promises nor taken any false oath. Those who have no regard to the obligations of truth or the honour of God’s name are unfit for a place in God’s holy hill.
We have to push ourselves
Those who are to dwell there are a praying people (Ps. 24:6): This is the generation of those who seek Him. In every age there is a remnant of these people of character, who are accounted to the Lord for a generation, Ps. 22:30. And they are such as seek God, that seek His face! They join themselves to God, to seek Him, not only in earnest prayer, but in serious endeavours to obtain His favour and keep themselves in His love. Having made it the summit of their happiness, they make it the summit of their ambition to be accepted by Him. It is to the hill of the Lord that we must ascend, and, the way being up-hill, we have to push ourselves to the utmost, as those who seek diligently.
They join themselves to the people of God, to seek God with them. Being brought into communion with God, they come into the communion of saints. They seek God’s face, as Jacob who was surnamed Israel, because he wrestled with God and prevailed, sought Him and found Him. They are glad of an acquaintance with God’s people (Zech. 8:23) they call themselves by the name of Jacob, Isa. 44:5. As soon as Paul was converted he joined himself to the disciples, Acts 9:26. They shall seek God’s face in Jacob, that is, in the assemblies of His people. All believers are the spiritual seed of Abraham, so all who strive in prayer are the spiritual seed of Jacob, to whom God never said, Seek me in vain.
They shall be justified and sanctified
God’s peculiar people, Ps. 24:5 shall be made truly and forever happy. They shall be blessed: all the fruits and gifts of God’s favour, according to His promise. Those whom God blesses are blessed indeed, for it is His prerogative to command the blessing. They shall be justified and sanctified. These are the spiritual blessings which they shall receive, even righteousness, the very thing they hunger and thirst after, Matt. 5:5. Righteousness is blessedness, and it is from God only that we must expect it, for we have no righteousness of our own. They shall receive the reward of their righteousness, the crown of righteousness which the righteous Judge shall give, 2 Tim. 4:8.
They shall be saved; for God Himself will be the God of their salvation. Those who are made for heaven shall be brought safely to heaven, and they will find what they have been seeking, to their endless satisfaction.
Who is this King of glory?
What is spoken once, is spoken a second time in these verses, such repetitions are usual in songs, and have much beauty in them. An entrance once again is demanded for the King of glory; the doors and gates are to be thrown wide open to give Him admission, for behold He stands at the door and knocks, ready to come in. Who is this King of glory? As, when any knock at our door, it is common to ask, Who is there? Satisfaction is once again given concerning the royal person who makes the demand: It is the Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle, the Lord of hosts, Ps. 24:8, 10.
It is the porters who are called upon to open the doors, and they are called everlasting doors, much more durable than the door of the tabernacle, which was but a curtain. They are taught to ask, Who is this King of glory? God, in His Word and ordinances, is to be welcomed by us with great readiness: the doors and gates must be thrown open to Him. Let the Word of the Lord come into the innermost and uppermost place in our souls. In all our approaches to Him let us do it with all reverence, remembering how great a God He is.
He demanded entrance for us
The ark, with the mercy-seat, was a type of Christ. When He had finished His work on earth He ascended in the clouds of heaven, Dan. 7:13, 14. The gates of heaven must then be opened to Him, those doors that may be truly called everlasting. They had been shut against us, to protect the way of the tree of life, Gen. 3:24. Our Redeemer found them shut, but by His blood He made atonement for sin and gained the title to enter into the holy place (Heb. 9:12). He was one as having authority, He demanded entrance, not for Himself only, but for us. He was the forerunner and has entered in for us and opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
The keys not only of hell and death, but of heaven and life were put into His hand. His arrival being very magnificent, the angels are brought in asking, Who is this King of glory? For angels keep the gates of the New Jerusalem, Rev. 21:12. When the first-begotten was brought into the upper world the angels were to worship Him (Heb. 1:6); and accordingly, they here ask with wonder, “Who is He? for He appears as a Lamb that had been slain.” He is strong and mighty, mighty in battle, to save His people and subdue His and their enemies.
He stands at the door and knocks
This may be applied to Christ’s entrance into the souls of men by His Word and Spirit, that they may be His temples. Christ’s presence in them is like that of the ark in the temple; it sanctifies them. Behold, He stands at the door and knocks, Rev. 3:20. It is required that the gates and doors of the heart be opened to Him, not only as admission is given to a guest, but as possession is delivered to the rightful owner. This is the gospel call and demand, that we let Jesus Christ, the King of glory, come into our souls, and welcome Him with hosannas, Blessed is He who comes.
That we may do this correctly we are to ask, Who is this King of glory? – to acquaint ourselves with Him, whom we are to believe in, and to love above all. And the answer is ready: He is Jehovah, and will be Jehovah our righteousness, an all-sufficient Saviour to us. If we give Him entrance and our attention. He is strong and mighty, the Lord of hosts; and therefore it is at our peril if we deny Him entrance. He can force His way, and can break those in pieces with His iron rod that will not submit to His golden sceptre.
This Psalm teaches us to let our hearts cheerfully answer His call, as it is in the first words of the next psalm, Unto You, O Lord! do I lift up my soul.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
[Swipe left to right] An Open Door The promise is an open door To change darkness into light, Yet I am tempted to ignore To resist with all my might. Should I leave it for another day Or could I possibly go in, It seems that I am drifting away Yet I can no longer bear my sin. A freshening breeze now blowing The door seems barely ajar, And almost without knowing I’m standing off afar. Then it seems I’m lurching Through a lengthening mist, It’s gone but still I’m searching Oh why do I resist? But now I see things clearer There’s blue skies just ahead, I find you drawing me nearer My heart now ruling my head. Yet I am weak and You are strong Forgive me for hesitating Why do I take so very long? When You are in there waiting. And now the door comes into view It’s clear and open wide, With joyous heart I walk to you I see You stood inside. Your arms outstretched, You beckon to Me I’ll feel so inwardly secure And O what wonders now I see In Your face so clean and pure. It’s always open the door of life In Jesus You can begin, To end the years of trouble and strife To find deep peace within. By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Prayer for the Day
Father I come to You. I declare that I shall be content with my lot in this world. Keep me from envying others. For the earth belongs to You and You do what You will with Your own. May my character be evermore changing into Your image that I may abide in communion with You. Help me be kept from all gross acts of sin. May my hands be clean and not spotted with the pollutions of the world and the flesh. Let my hands be pure and lifted up to You in prayer with no blot of unjust gain on them. Nor anything else that defiles and is offensive to You. Cause me to pursue all goodness.
Let my heart also be washed from all wickedness. Let there not be any secret impurities, which are open before Your eyes. Cause my heart to be sincere and carefully guarded, purified by faith and conformed to Your image and will. I will not set my heart on the things of this world, nor lift up my soul to vanity. Let me not be carried away with the wealth of this world, the praise of men, or the delights of senses. But to be as one who deals honestly with You and man. Let me have the utmost regard to the obligations of truth and the honour of Your name.
Teach me to pray
Teach me to pray that I be known as a praying person. Press me to join with You, to seek You, not only in earnest prayer, but in serious endeavours to obtain Your favour and keep myself in Your love. You are the summit of my happiness and the summit of my ambition is to be accepted by You. Help me to push myself to the utmost, as those who seek diligently.
I hunger and thirst for righteousness. I welcome Your Word and ordinances with great readiness. Let the doors and gates of my heart be thrown open to You, as possession is delivered to the rightful owner. Cause Your Word to come into the innermost and uppermost place in my soul. In all my approaches to You let them be with all reverence, remembering how great a God You are.
This is the gospel call and demand, that we let You, the King of glory, come into our souls, and welcome Him. Let me acquaint myself more fully with You, that I would believe in, and love You above all else. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.
Andrew Feakin is responsible for all of the poems on the site. Do you want to see some more?