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Psalm 24

Psalm 24 Summary. Who May worship the LORD in His holy place?

Summary

David asks who is qualified to worship The LORD in His holy sanctuary, probably at Jerusalem. The LORD created the earth and everything that lives in it. He is the creator, holy, the king of glory, the LORD of hosts. In order to enter, one must be perfect—righteous in acts, thoughts, and words. The LORD will bless those who qualify to enter into the sanctuary. With people ready to enter the sanctuary, the plea is made that the ancient gates will open so the LORD of hosts may enter—probably a reference to the Ark being brought to the sanctuary after a battle.

History

The exact historical situation is unknown. The evidence within the Psalm indicates that this is a victory liturgy sung or chanted by Israel as they carried the Ark of the Covenant to the sanctuary of the LORD after a military victory. Second Samuel 6 records David taking the ark from the house of Abinadab in Kiriath-jearim, where it had remained 20 years after the Philistines returned it (1 Samuel 6.1-7.2), to the house of Obed-edom, where it stayed 3 months (2 Samuel 6.12). This or a similar victory may be the historical background.

Outline

  1. Psalm 24.1-2. The LORD created and owns the earth, the people, and all things.
  2. Psalm 24.3-4. One must be righteous in acts, thoughts, and words to enter the Holy place.
  3. Psalm 24.5-6. The LORD will bless and vindicate those who seek him and qualify.
  4. Psalm 24.7-10.  So the call to open the gates so the king of glory, the LORD of hosts may enter.

Verse summary

  1. Psalm 24.1-2. The LORD created and owns the earth, the people, and all things.
    • David begins by proclaiming that the LORD (Yahweh) owns the earth and everything that lives there. Psalm 90.2 has both earth and world. They are parallel.  God is the owner because he created it all. As such he has the right to demand loyalty and worship. Sea and rivers remind the people of the original creation in Genesis 1.6-10.
    • The mention of seas and rivers may be a slap against the pagan Canaanite gods, Yam (Prince Sea) and Nahar (Judge River), if this psalm was referring to a victory over the Canaanites.
  2. Psalm 24.3-4. One must be righteous in acts, thoughts, and words to enter the Holy place.
    • The question asks who may enter into the sanctuary? The soldiers returning from a battle are reminded that purity of acts, speech, and words is required to enter. This was a rigorous standard, and if needed, a cleansing ritual would be performed.
  3. Psalm 24.5-6. The LORD will bless and vindicate those who seek him and are qualified.
    • The blessing may be a statement by the priest as in Numbers 6.22-27, or the fact that all is well between the worshipper and the LORD, or both.
    • Righteousness is the other key word. This does not seem to means that the LORD gives them righteousness. It means that the LORD vindicates or declares them righteous.
    • The generation refers to a group of people with similar desire to approach the sanctuary. They seek the Lord. Jacob seems to be parallel to the word generation. The people needed God’s favor as Jacob did
  4. Psalm 24.7-10.  Now the call to open the gates so the king of glory, the LORD of hosts may enter.
    • If the history is true, then the worshipers are bringing the ark into the sanctuary. Regardless, people are coming to worship the LORD of Hosts, the King of Glory.
    • The gates are the gates to the sanctuary. By personification the gates are told to open. The king is coming, therefore prepare and allow him to enter.

So what for us?

  1. The LORD God created all things and people. As creator he is the owner and king over all the creation. To know and accept this helps to put all life into proper perspective.
  2. Personal righteousness is required to enjoy fellowship with God and to worship him. The New Testament also teaches this.
  3. Corporate worship of God requires righteousness, reflective thinking, grateful recognition of the LORD Yahweh God.
  4. Picture yourself returning from an event in which your group was victorious over arrogant sceptics. You are coming together for a church service to thank God. First, because he is the rightful owner of everything, and second because he gave the victory. You want to enter with the congregation and to thank him and honor him.  To do so, you must recognize the LORD as the victor, you must be righteous, and you may enter.