George Booker
Psalms Studies - Book 1

Psalm 24

1. Structure

The Lord of all
3- 6.
God’s acceptable people
The King of Glory

2. Historical reference

There seems to be general agreement that this is a processional psalm for the bringing of the Ark to Zion (2 Sam. 6). For other psalms of the same occasion, see 15, 30, 68, 87, and (possibly) 132.

The earth (eretz) is the Lord’s may read The Land (of Israel) is the Lord’s. Verse 2 chimes in with this. Such a reading is appropriate to the time when at last all twelve tribes were consolidated into one Kingdom under David, and God’s sanctuary was established at Jerusalem.
For he hath founded it upon the seas is a difficult idea. But this could read beside the seas — very suitable to a Jerusalem situated between seas on the east and west.
Who shall ascend...? could also be read Who shall offer burnt offering....? Either way, there is here an expression of special care, and even anxiety, as to the qualifications to be sought for this divine duty. The stroke of God upon Uzzah adequately explains all this: 1 Chron. 13:2,9,10. So vv. 3-6 may be read as applicable to 1 Chron. 15:12-16, where — on the second attempt to bring the Ark to Zion — the Levites prepared themselves properly for the task.
He that hath clean hands and a pure heart. This perfect man receives his real righteousness from God!

Nor sworn deceitfully, as did Saul: 1 Sam. 19:6; 24:16-22; 26:21,25; contrast 2 Sam. 9:1. Here LXX adds “to his neighbor”, as in Psa. 15:3, making the Saul allusion even more pointed: 1 Sam. 15:28.
This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O (God of: see note, Par. 3 ) Jacob. Stephen alluded to this occasion and this psalm when he spoke of David finding favor before God, and desiring to find a place for a tabernacle for the God of Jacob (Acts 7:46).

This Selah is very appropriate here to David’s offering of sacrifice: 2 Sam. 6:12,13.
Strong and mighty....mighty in battle is certainly relevant to the intensive campaigns in the early part of David’s reign: 2 Sam. 5:17-25; ch. 8.
The Lord of hosts is also referred to in 2 Sam. 6:2,18.

3. Genesis references

Abraham and Jacob both have an important place in the allusions here:

He shall receive....righteousness from the God of his salvation (v. 5). Abraham’s faith was accounted to him for righteousness: Gen. 15:6.
The site of the sanctuary is called his holy place (v. 3) before ever the ark has arrived there — because of its association with Abraham and Isaac: Gen. 22:2; 2 Chron. 3:1. The hill of the Lord (v. 3) is a name which dates back to Abraham: Gen. 22:14.
The contrast between sworn deceitfully (v. 4) and receive the blessing of the Lord (v. 5) is the contrast between the two sides of Jacob’s character: Gen. 27:19,20 (the deceitful use of the divine Name) and 28:13-15,20-22; 32:26,29.
Them....that seek thy face, O Jacob (v. 6) is in itself unintelligible. But the LXX (and most modern versions): them....that seek the face of the God of Jacob (with reference to Gen. 32:30,31; cp. Hos. 12:4) makes good sense and is certainly appropriate to the context. (A similar ellipsis occurs in Isa. 44:5.)
Lord of hosts (v. 10) looks back to Mahanaim (Gen. 32:1,2) and also Peniel (32:30). Why these patriarchal allusions? Is it because David saw the bringing of the ark to Zion as the end of the pilgrimage of his forefathers? Also (Par. 4) because the psalm celebrates the glorious fulfillment of the promises to the Fathers in the future reign of the true King of Glory?

4. Messianic fulfillment

Who shall stand? This word signifies to stand erect or approved (Psa. 1:5; contrast Josh. 7:12,13), and is commonly used for resurrection: e.g. Mark 5:41.
Blessing is equated, often, with forgiveness of sins: Gen. 22:17; Psa. 72:17; Matt. 25:34; Luke 6:28; Acts 3:25,26; Gal. 3:8,9. This leads to an imputed righteousness (Rom. 3:21-25; 4:3,5,7,8,22; etc.).
Lift up your heads, O ye gates. But gates do not have heads! However, gatekeepers and porters and watchmen do. This is the idiom, as in Isa. 14:31; Jer. 14:2; John 10:9 (door for doorkeeper); Rev. 22:14 (clearly symbolic); Psa. 84:10; 2 Sam. 18:26 (porter = “gate” in Hebrew). See also the parallel with Luke 21:28 in Par. 5.

Ye everlasting doors. Were these the gates, the “ancient doors” (NIV, RSV), by which Melchizedek had entered his city of Salem such long years before? More than this, these gates are the doors to eternal life (see on Psa. 133)! John Thomas translates: “ye doors of the future age (olahm)”. And they are everlastingly open: Isa. 60:11; Psa. 132:14.

The King of Glory: Rev. 22:14. Four times this wonderful title of King Jesus is used. First, the King will enter, and then the “righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in” (Isa. 26:2).

5. New Testament references

Luke 21

Psalm 24
The sea and the waves roaring
The sea and the floods
Stand before the Son of Man
Stand in his holy place
Lift up your heads (cp. Mark13:34: commanded the porter to watch)
Lift up your heads, O ye gates (i.e. gate-keepers)
Your redemption draweth nigh
Righteousness from the God of his salvation
Matt. 24:32.
He shall send his angels to gather his elect
The Lord of hosts

1 Corinthians 10:26,28

This repetition of v. 1a: The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness there-of, is disallowed (in v. 28) by most modern texts. Yet the supporting evidence for both occurrences is not to be lightly discarded. Assuming that the disputed words belong in both places, the argument in these verses goes like this:

Food in the shops has been earlier dedicated to an idol. Do not let this trouble you. You have a right to eat it because: (1) the idol is nothing; (2) all creatures were made by the Lord (the earth is the Lord’s); and (3) as heirs of his kingdom, saints in Christ share his lordship over the lower creation. Therefore it is the right of anyone in Christ to eat such food. (On this, compare 1 Timothy 4:4,5.)

But suppose a brother (e.g. a Jewish convert) protests that this food, lately dedicated to an idol, is unclean; then his fellow-believer should abstain from eating — with the comforting assurance that the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof. In other words, in God’s world there is such a wide diversity of good things to eat, so it can be only a small hard-ship to deny oneself in this instance for the sake of a beloved brother’s sensitive conscience.

James 4:8

In a scorching rebuke, which was probably addressed initially to the worldly priests in Jerusalem, the apostle exhorts: “Draw nigh to God (this is priestly language), and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded” (here the psalm is quoted, with its reminiscence of the fate of Uzzah the priest). Verse 10 goes on to echo the psalm: “....and he shall lift you up” (cp. “be ye lifted up”, addressed to gatekeepers of the sanctuary). Verse 11 continues: “Speak not evil....” — an allusion to Psalm 15:3, another psalm on the same occasion.

Matthew 5:6,8

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness....blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (“that seek thy face, O God of Jacob”).

Matthew 21:1-11

As David was content to humble himself in his triumphal inauguration of Zion (2 Sam. 6:14,16,20-22), so also Jesus of Nazareth. And verse 10 quotes: “And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this [King of Glory]?”

6. Other details

This verse brings strong reassurance to those who are seriously concerned about pollution of air, soil, or water, or of over-exploitation of the world’s resources. There is no need to fear, for The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof. No matter how desecrated it may become, He will take care of it in His good time — and when He does, it will be instantaneous and absolute! Indeed, David quotes his v. 1 from Deut. 33:16 (see also Exod. 9:29), where the context links strongly with the promises of God. And in turn this verse is quoted in Psa. 89:11 in a strong Messianic context.
The eretz (Land of Israel) is founded beside the seas. The seas symbolize wicked men and nations (Isa. 57:20) that threaten the sovereignty and integrity of Israel (cp. Job 38:8-11), but that will eventually be no more (Rev. 21:1). By contrast, Israel — the land and its people — are established forever (Jer. 30:11), like the sun, moon, and stars (31:35-37).
Place = maqom, commonly signifying a sanctuary or altar: Gen. 22:3,4,9,14; 28:11-19; Deut. 12:11-21; Psa. 26:8; 132:5; Isa. 60:13; 66:1.
A pure heart. Compare Psa. 17:15. “He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend” (Prov. 22:11).

Who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, i.e. “what is false” (RSV), or — more specifically — “an idol” (NIV). See how this especially suits the context of 1 Cor. 10 (Par. 5).
Generation: 22:30. In Hebrew, two different words: (a) enquire of; (b) serve.

To seek the face of someone is to seek his favor or blessing: Prov. 7:15; 29:26.

Lord of hosts. Here in LXX the word hosts is the same as powers in 1 Pet. 3:22. In this context it clearly means angels.

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