Psalms of David
Psalms in Book 1 (Psalms 1 to 41) are mainly personal songs, so I will look at how they apply to us personally. Social and communal aspects of life and work do not come in until the later books of psalms.
It is nice to come into a warm welcome with everything tidied away, food cooked and wine ready to be drunk. To be met with open arms and a warm hug. Before reading on, think about how you like to be welcomed.
The books of Psalms are roughly themed like this:
Book 1: Psalms 1 – 41: God is beside us.
Book 2: Psalms 42 – 72: God goes before us
Book 3: Psalms 73 – 89: God is all around us.
Book 4: Psalms 90 – 106: God is above us.
Book 5: Psalms 107 – 150: God is among us.
A Psalm of David.
24 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,Psalm 24 ESVUK
the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 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.
5 He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
7 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
9 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Selah
Psalm 24 concludes the section of 5 songs about the king, the last four of which were about atonement, becoming one with each other and God, Psalm 22 looks at the past, the death and resurrection of Jesus, Psalm 23 was about the present, how God walks beside us and leads us. This is about the future, the return of the king to celebrate victory and sit on his throne. Psalm 24 is about the future.
Psalm 24 is a beautiful example of Biblical poetry but the poetic forms are diverse, The psalm is in three parts each with a different form:
- An introductory two verses that declare the kingship of the Lord.
- Four verses (3 to 6) about those who enter the presence of the Lord.
- Four verses (7 to 10) about the king entering the presence of his people.
The first section uses repetition. The meaning of the first line is repeated in the second line of each verse. The language used is that of the creation account in Genesis Chapter One where the world was all water before God made the land. Throughout the Old Testament, the seas are used as a metaphor for chaos. God is seen here as the creator who brings order out of chaos.
The central section is a chiasm with the structure A B B’ A’, the theme is introduced and then dealt with in reverse order, which ties in with the chiasms used in the previous four psalms. The outer part of the chiasm asks, “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.” Jacob, before he changed his name to Israel saw God’s face whilst wrestling with him. It’s OK to wrestle with God or to argue with God, the book of Habakkuk is mostly the prophet arguing with God.
Habakkuk was wrong, of course. As was Jacob, but it took their struggle with God for them to come to realise the truth. God is king and knows what is happening and what he is doing.
This is the first of three questions and answer parts, the other two are in the final section, and as this is a chiasm the important thing, and the centre of the whole psalm, is the type of person who can enter
The centre of a chiasm gives it meaning, and this points to the answer to the question, “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?” The answer is those who seek after God with no compromises. It is God alone we should be seeking and not God alongside anyone or anything else. It does not say it is a perfect person, we all make mistakes and some of us fail God spectacularly, but those who seek God will stand in his holy place. We are holy not because we have made ourselves holy, or because we have the right lifestyle but because Jesus Christ has died to make us clean. We rely on Jesus to make us clean and respond to the love of God.
The final part of Psalm 24 is a repeated refrain ending with the question, “Who is the King of Glory?” The people who seek God and wish to be made clean by God have gathered in the holy place, and now God comes as the victor to be with his people.
This is seen as Jesus returning to Earth at the end of the age to be with his people. to gather up those who are saved. I would agree, but that is only a part of the meaning.
At the beginning of this year, I said I felt that God was calling me to get my awe back. The get the understanding that our God is an awesome God back in my heart. I understand this well enough, but a mental and logical understanding that God is overwhelmingly good and powerful is not the same as being overwhelmed by the goodness and power of God. When I worship I long to see the heavens opened and Jesus sitting on the right of the Father in majesty. I have had that before and I believe that is lacking in my worship and in my life.
What about you? Is God calling you to experience his awe, or the mercy of his forgiveness, of Jesus becoming helpless to save us? Pray this as your prayer—”The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory!”
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