Psalm 24: The King of Glory

Another “Psalm of David”, written by or about him or using his music. There’s no other note or accompaniment with this one.

Psalm 24

1The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,a
the world and those who dwell therein,
2for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.

3Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
5He will receive blessing from the LORD
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.b Selah

7Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8Who is this King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle!
9Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Selah

This is another psalm that sounds like it was written to be used as a part of the religious service. Maybe it’s just my experience in church, and not a typical one, but it kind of checklists the things we should be doing in order to gain favor with God. There are a lot of checklist type things I’ve encounter in the church setting, or expectations that people have of it who don’t even attend church as I once was, but those aren’t the same. Verse 4 isn’t a long list of unattainable things designed to make you feel bad about yourself, nor is it a set of things that makes the people on the inside flaunt themselves and admire each other.

Okay, sure, I have met people who would look at this and insist they have it all checked off and are in perfectly good standing with God, but that isn’t the point when you look at the whole context of where it sits. It’s a small set of things that should be a goal for everyone. I don’t think anyone perfectly does all those things, but it’s not a lot to ask for either. To be honest, it’s kind of the parental checklist. Regardless of this as a guideline for getting God’s blessing, I feel like it’s a guideline for how the average American parents are perceived to want their children to be.

“He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.”

Pretty sure most people I know in real life have been yelled at by parents for one or all of these things in a way that is completely independent of their religion.

That said, the rest of the psalm confused me at first. Suddenly we’re trying to get into some gate right after talking about the people who want to go see God, and then I put it together. They’ve decided they were doing good enough with the checklist in verse 4 and are now coming to see if God wants to join them. Why not?

It reminds me of the way my son will come over and insist that he’s happy again and don’t I want to spend time with him now that he’s stopped crying when that he was crying was never the point. The scenario usually begins with something he’s doing wrong, getting chastised, and then the crying. When he’s done crying, he’s convinced himself that the crying was the problem the whole time. We’re working on it, but the point is that he comes down ready to snuggle or spend time with us if we’re game for it and it seems like the writer of the psalm felt that way. He was ready to spend time with God, had adjusted his attitude (maybe the pure heart) and was ready to see if God wanted to let him bask in his presence. If only it worked that way.

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