Meditations in David’s Psalms : 28 : The King of Glory – Psa 24
Psa 24:10 Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty— he is the King of glory.
The structure of this psalm is interesting. It starts with God as Creator (v.1,2) and then moves to consider who can approach the Lord (v.3-6) and then just who it is who is to be worshipped in Jerusalem in the tabernacle (v.7-10). At first sight it may seem difficult to understand David’s train of thought and we certainly don’t have many clues as to when and why he wrote it. So let’s just work our way through it and see what arises as we meditate upon it.
So we start with God of Creation. First comes a declaration that the world belongs to the Lord – all the earth and all the people on it: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” (v.1) As always David has a reason for the assertions he makes: “for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” (v.2) i.e. the earth belongs to God because He made it. No one and nothing exists without the Lord, and therefore He has a claim on them.
Is it the thought that we all belong to the Lord that starts David thinking about how we may approach this Creator God? Being an Israelite, David lives with the revelation that has come down to them through the centuries that has culminated in the belief that the “dwelling place” of the Lord was the tabernacle in Jerusalem. Of course the temple would not be built until after David died but for now the truth for them was that the Lord dwelt in the tabernacle or tent, erected in the centre of Jerusalem, but the question still arose, who could go up to that place, who could approach this Creator God that he has just been thinking about? “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?” (v.3) If God is so great who can approach Him?
If God created this world then surely He knows how we work best and surely He will expect us to live like that? There are certain things that stand out in the Law that had been passed on to Israel, things that the Lord surely expects of His people. These things are things we should think about and work on: “The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” (v.4) Four requirements. First, ‘clean hands’. Dirty hands would be hands that have done wrong or unclean things, things that are not right in God’s sight. A ‘pure heart’. An impure heart is one that has become contaminated by things that are contrary to God’s design for us. A pure heart is a heart like God’s heart. The latter two things are two aspects of the same thing. They refer to people who have turned away from the truth, turned away from the one true God and who have turned to superstitions and man-made ideas of things to worship. Such a person who desires to approach and encounter the Creator-God must hold to that truth that He is Creator and requires His people to live according to His design and not turn from it, whether that is in respect of their behaviour, their heart direction, or their thoughts about God. When they do, “They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Saviour.” (v.5) David knows that relationship with the Lord means Him decreeing good for their lives and dealing with their sin, and therefore it is good to seek the Lord: “Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.” (v.6)
So David moves from thinking about what is required to enter into a relationship with the Lord, to imagining the Lord coming to His place in the heart of Jerusalem, he imagines Him coming to Jerusalem. In poetic language he addresses the gates of Jerusalem: “ Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors,that the King of glory may come in.” (v.7) and then, because they might know who he was talking about he asks on their behalf, so to speak, “Who is this King of glory?” (v.8a) and answers, “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” (v.8b)
Note here that David has moved from thinking about God as Creator to God who comes down and fights on his behalf and on behalf of Israel, i.e. from the impersonal power, perhaps, who made the world, to a very personal God who comes and acts on our behalf. He also now names Him with the name given to Moses, the “I AM”, the eternal one, yet the one who has revealed Himself to His people.
Thus again he addresses Jerusalem: “ Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.” (v.9) and then asks the same question: “ Who is he, this King of glory?” (v.10a) and gives the answer, “The Lord Almighty— he is the King of glory.” (v.10b) i.e. the one he knows as the I AM, the one revealed to Moses, is not only the one who fights for Israel and triumphs on their behalf, He is able to do that because He is, in fact, the all-mighty One who created all things. It is the Creator of the world who he welcomes into Jerusalem.
Thus in this relatively short psalm we see David’s understanding of the revelation of God, that He is the Creator and owner of all things, He is the One who comes and fights on behalf of Israel, and He is also the One who has made Himself personal to them by coming and dwelling in their midst in Jerusalem. The one we worship is the Creator of all things but he has revealed Himself to us as One who will fight on our behalf but, even more, is One who draws very close to us. Hallelujah!