First Off…read Psalm 24!
When I first read this text I cannot help but stop on the first 2 verses: Creation. The author, David (it’s assumed by most people that it was David who penned this) has simply made a statement at the beginning that should be carried throughout the rest of the text. God is the creator of the world and all that is in it – as well as all who are in it. And since God is the creator then the earth is His and everything that is within the earth. This seems pretty basic 101 stuff…but again, if we proclaim that “creation” is the Lord’s then everything else we say and do must be with that same caveat.
If it is the Lord’s – then it really is his. You want to see God and ascend the mountain? Then you must declare it is his and play by his rules. You want to stand before God? Then you must understand that wherever God is is holy…thus only holy clean people with pure hearts who do not trust idols or swear by false gods – only THEY can stand before God in his holy place. These are God’s rules and we must obey them.
The most common belief out there is that this psalm was penned by David while the ark was being brought back from the house of Obed-Edom to the tabernacle that David had prepared for the Lord on Mount Zion (2 Sam 6:12). The feeling is that this was written with this idea that it was almost a “call-and-response” song between either a few different choirs or soloists and the people that were there – with each group “answering” the other person as they came towards the temple carrying the presence of God. So picture a soloist singing verses 1 and 2, then a different soloist singing verse 3 with then a choir responding in full voice verse 4. Or maybe there was a soloist leading the group as they were entering the city and as they pass through the gates and down through the shops and homes they would sing back and forth in preparation of coming near the Temple of the Lord.
But if you are anything like me what this song ALSO does is remind us how far we’ve really come and all that God has done. While I fully declare this psalm is right and good and true…I’m instantly reminded that the only ones who could ascend the mountain, the only ones who had “clean hands” and a “pure heart”, were those priests that not only received the sacrifices of the people but they then offered them up to God as well. Through the sacrifice of animals and the shedding of their blood hands were made clean. Hearts were made pure. Thoughts were wiped clean of anything and everything that wasn’t directly focused upon God. So this “song” they sang was a preparatory song, an anticipatory song, a song of joy and hope – but also one to, in a way, call out the priests to prepare themselves to go in front of God on behalf of the people.
Praise God that times have changed. While God still is the God of creation, the one who created the heavens and the seas and the earth and animals and all within it (Genesis 1) – the one who still requires us to play by HIS rules, while God still is the same God that required animal sacrifices to pay for human sins so that they could draw near to him and be in his presence, thus being forgiven for their sins (Lev 4:35, 5:10) and being thus given “clean hands and pure hearts” – what God has done, in his grace and mercy and forgiveness, is send his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to BECOME the FINAL lamb who died for the sins of the world (John 1:29).
What’s really beautiful is that Psalm 24 now becomes not a song of hopeful anticipation that the priests would atone for the sins of the people on behalf of them, this song now becomes a declaration that it was Jesus Christ who did this for his people. And where the priests had to do this every day, day in and day out for the people (since we can never NOT sin) – Jesus Christ paid the price one single time. It only took one death, his own, to complete the atonement (payment for the penalty of sins) for yours and my sin.
Psalm 24 is a declaration of hope and praise in just how marvelous this “King of glory” is. It’s a song that I love to sing – knowing that this King of glory DESCENDED that mountain and came to us. It is that King of glory who washed me clean and is daily, by His Spirit, giving me a pure and clean heart.
There are many wonders and beauties that we will live into and explore when we finally come into his presence once-and-for-all when Christ comes again. And I know that no matter what I do in heaven, no matter where I go – this surely is a song I will be singing
Who is this “King of glory”? The Lord Almighty, Jesus Christ – he is the King of glory.