Seeking the King of Glory
Music can tell you a lot about someone and a lot about a culture. What I have observed is that you can gain a good sense about what a culture cares about by listening to their most listened to music. Really, just turn on the radio, or if you were to see what the top 40 songs are in Canada this past week, you would get a clear picture of a culture that values noncommittal relationships, cheap intimacy, self-expression, promoting their possessions, celebrating bad habits/ sin (really one of the top songs is call “Bad habits”) etc.
Now, if we are to look at Hebrew songs and poetry in the Psalms and read songs about what they cared about, we may notice that they sing and write about relationships, but in a totally different way. Often it’s about the God of Israel and His relationship to His people, whether as shepherd, or deliverer from enemies, one who hears, cares, rebukes, loves, and understands. As well, we can read of many songs that are linked to kingship, especially God’s kingship.
How many songs in our culture have you heard that sing about those in authority? Probably not many. But for David, he still recognized God as King and desired for his people to see that as well. So he made a hymn about God’s Kingship and though songs about kings may not that relevant today, we will see that this is more relevant than we can ever imagine. First we need some ground work…
Psalm 24 is a hymn of exaltation that directs the hearts of His people to worship God in a manner that acknowledges His glory as Creator, Holy and King. This Psalm has also been labeled an entrance Psalm written by David. The possible events surrounding this Psalm may have been an anniversary of when the ark of the covenant, which represented God’s presence, was entering Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 6 (this would be good to look up this week when reflecting on this Psalm) or truly a Psalm celebrating the Lord’s Kingship in relation to His People.
You will notice that Psalm 24 is written like a procession of a King coming back from victory in battle, and from what we read, whatever the event may be, this Psalm is about celebrating the presence of God entering His city and the possibility of the people of God entering His presence. On this procession we are given three distinct insights about God in relation to His people that flow into each other. These three insights can be described as: Announcing the King (v. 1-2), Approaching the King (v. 3-6), Acknowledging the King (v. 7-10).
As we look at this passage we will gain a better understanding of what God is like, and how we relate with Him. So let’s look at that text together starting at verse 1, announcing the king.
Announcing the King (24:1-2)
We see here right away, that the Psalmist starts with a cosmic parallelism (two statements, one truth). David speaks of the whole earth belonging to the Lord, to Yahweh. Not just part of the earth, not just some of the non-human inhabitants or human inhabitants. No, all of it. The whole earth belongs to Him. But why is that? v. 2.
Again more parallelism to communicate that everything and everyone belong to God because He created and established them. Like a large temple the earth is portrayed as having foundations that God sets in place. This language recalls the act of creation in which God summoned the dry land to rise from the watery surface (Gen. 1:2, 9).
God is not a contractor he did not just build for the owner of the materials, HE is the owner, as the creator and King. It was stated well by a commentator “To create is to own, and to own is to have dominion over.” In other words, God is large and in charge. God is seen having dominion and power over creation. He did not have to defeat any rival, he merely spoke - Is. 43:18 says “I am the Lord there is no other!”
This Psalm has just become very relevant to us as it speaks to whom we belong. The Lord is the King of creation. From this cosmic scale, David moves to a question…. Who can approach the Lord? What will allow one to approach Him? (Read v. 3), comes to the second point.
Approaching the King (24:3-6)
V. 3 - “Hill of the Lord”, “Holy Place” seen as the Temple or Tabernacle in Jerusalem. The place where God meets with his people and His people can meet with Him. He is the God who exists and desires for His people to come to Him. Though they didn’t deserve it. But who? God desires those who were not just ceremonially pure, but also in life. (Read v. 4). They are actively pursuing a relationship and life honouring to God as ones with purity, devotion and integrity.
Purity - Clean hands are the expression of a pure heart, they are innocent. As opposed to impurity and selfish motives. They are humble and ready to give a sacrifice and repent before God for their sin, so that they can be in right relationship with God.
Devotion - “lifting up your soul..” (Ps. 25:1), is to trust someone or something with your life, it is assumed we will always put our trust in someone or something, that is true that desire to “lift up our soul” find its proper place in entrusting ourselves to God. In verse 4, worshippers don’t put their trust in what is false or idols, that they can manipulate for their gain. No, their trust is in God, as their maker, and protector and provider.
Integrity - they did not make promises they were not going to keep, swearing deceitfully, but keeping their word, not doing things for their own gain. Their yes is yes and their no is no. Their purity of heart and devotion to God is shown in their integrity.
Verse 4, shows us that we come to God on His terms and His character, and those who worship Him are ok with that. When we seek the God who is pure we will aim to live in purity, when we seek the God who is true and whose word proves true, we will aim to live in integrity.
His worshippers receive blessing and are blessings (v. 5) The reward for their integrity, is they receive blessing and righteousness. Explanation: Put on your OT lens, God would give them blessings of the covenant as God promised, land, family and victory battle, and righteousness, they would enjoy God as Redeemer providing justice for them, vindication, and protection. Though they don’t deserve it, God desires to bless His people as they do what he pleases, this would not only show the goodness of God to the family or individual but to the community and the surrounding nations.
Along with that those who worship God would be a blessing, in that as they lived this way with purity, devotion and integrity before God they would be a blessing to others in the community and the other nations around them would see the blessing of the God of Israel, it would be as God promised to Abraham “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3).
His worshippers seek His face and know His grace (v. 6) These are the receivers of Gods blessing, the Psalmist says this is the group of people with whom God is pleased, they walk with integrity, they have an internal desire to please him, not for appearance sake. What does it mean to “seek him”? To seek God is an expression of sincere desire to live in accordance to God’s standards, so as to live in the presence of his “face”. This generation is descendants of Jacob, true descendants of Jacob who seek the Lord. V. 6, points out to us that God is pleased when His people seek Him and aim to live as He desires. They seek his face and receive His blessing of grace.
Continuing on in this procession we have had the announcement of the king our creator, we’ve heard about who can approach the King who is holy, but before v. 7 there is a the word “selah” indicating a pause in the song… to allow the weight of what was said sink in, and to prepare for what is coming… in our Psalm 24, what is coming is the 3rd insight, the Acknowledgment of the King of Glory…
Acknowledging the King (24:7-10)
The king is entering the city! I imagine this like a huge parade and the main event is coming in. These are small experiences, in comparison to God the creator, God who is Holy, His presence entering the city. David repeats this part to show its significance, by making an announcement, question and the answer.
Announcement: The King is coming in the city, lift up your heads! - This announcement to gates and ancient doors is strange language, but it is meant for two reasons, first calling on the gate or door keepers to open up! Jerusalem is an old city, that was present before Israel took it over in the book of Joshua. Second, calling on the gate could’ve been a way of calling on the people inside to lift up their heads, get ready to see who is coming! But before opening there is a question…
Question: “Who is this King?” As any responsible doorkeeper would ask… before opening the door “who is it?” It seems like a outrageous question, but one that clarifies the answer…,
Answer: The mighty Lord, the Lord of hosts, the Lord as a warrior. Kings get glory in victory. God is not a puny god who doesn’t have control or needs to tell people to celebrate Him. Rather, He is celebrated because He deserves it all, He is supremely worthy of our praise! He blesses people and gives them responsibility, because He is completely in charge. Why? Because He is the Lord strong and mighty, mighty in battle. His glory from His powerful victory in battle, Ex. 15:1-3 displays it as they celebrate God’s power over Pharaoh and the super power nation of Egypt, when he rescued His people Israel. This is the essence of God’s Kingship, delivering His people and defeating his enemies.
When he entered those ancient doors that meant, God their true king, and protector was in their midst. Security and blessing was coming, this was good news for them as a people and it would continue to be good news if they obeyed as God commanded in the covenant of Moses. This is a celebration of the King of glory being present with people! A celebration of “God with us”!
Now that we have heard some of the rich insights from Psalm 24 it moves me to ask the question, “how do I respond to a passage like this?” I would answer that, by saying we need to put on our New Testament lens and follow David’s example by acknowledging Jesus Christ, the Son of God as the King of glory and then approach the Lord through Jesus Christ.
Acknowledge the King of Glory: Jesus Christ
Psalm 24 is about who the King of Glory is and about who can come into the Holy One’s presence. Now we have seen that God requires us to come on His terms and desires His people to come to Him. But as we read Psalm 24, we see David sing of a development that is ideal and true, yet will run us into inevitable conflict. The conflict being, we cannot meet the requirement to enter God’s presence, and God whose nature is Holy and Righteous, who is the strong and mighty King of Glory who judges justly. In our sin, we will fall short of His glory, we will continually chose ourselves, and we would receive the just penalty for our sin.
So how could an unholy people be in relationship with a Holy God? God did not lower His standard for us, but met the standard on our behalf.
An old hymn by George Weissel, applies the psalm to Christ’s coming:
“Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates:
behold, the King of Glory waits!
The King of kings is drawing near,
the Saviour of the world is here.
Life and salvation he doth bring,
wherefore rejoice and gladly sing.”
Psalm 24 points us to a day when God would move in a surprising new way, not coming in a temple or the ark, but as a person. A person who would come into Jerusalem as a king riding on a donkey. With a crowd celebrating “Hosanna to the Son of David!”, and in Matthew 21:10 “when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, ‘who is this?’ And crowds said, this is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” Jesus Christ, He is the King of Glory who sacrificed His life, and later in Matthew have other crowds yelling “crucify Him!”, The One who can truly stand in God’s holy place, was obedient to the point of death on cross, standing in our place for us, to take the punishment we deserved so that we could be declared righteousness before God.
In doing so He came to defeat His enemies, the sin, death and the devil and deliver His people. He arose to be King who was given all authority. Therefore, as Christians we need to acknowledge this truth: Jesus is the King of glory. Have you acknowledged Jesus as King of your Life? Recognizing on this side of heaven, as those who put their faith in Jesus, we are often bent toward wanting to be charge of our lives, I heard it said, we need to have a coronation every morning. Where we start our day acknowledging Jesus our king, receive His grace for us and pledge to live our lives for Him, “Lord help me do what you want me to do”.
Approach the King of Glory
So in submission to our King, seek Him! Maybe you’re here thinking you are too far gone in sin and you can’t come… you are not, receive His grace and seek His face. God doesn’t change his desire for his people to approach Him, but his means by which we can come to Him. It’s through Jesus Christ the King who came to us, he cleans us that we can draw near to God. Hebrews 4:16 gives a powerful instruction, “Let us then draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and grace to help in time of need.”
We don’t need a temple to seek God, we can do so anywhere. We don’t have to wait till Sunday to pray, rather we can wake up and approach our God in worship, with repentant attitudes and expectation to know God more. We can worship by engaging with his word and seeking the Lord in prayer, remembering what we receive in Christ and who we are in Him we can leave blessed and ready to be a blessing to our bothers and sisters in Christ, and those who don’t know Christ as their King. We leave watchful and thankful for His faithful kingship over us.
As we prepare for heading back in our building next week May we know and believe today, Emmanuel Baptist Church, that Jesus Christ is the King of glory, and may Psalm 24 cause us to celebrate and seek our God! This is a song about our Highest Authority that is worth singing!