Following the King of Glory
A Psalm by David.
1 The earth is YHWH’s, with its fullness;
the world, and those who dwell therein.
2 For he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the floods.
3 Who may ascend to YHWH’s hill?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart;
who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood,
and has not sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive a blessing from YHWH,
righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 This is the generation of those who seek Him,
who seek your face—even Jacob.
7 Lift up your heads, you gates!
Be lifted up, you everlasting doors,
and the King of glory will come in.
8 Who is the King of glory?
YHWH strong and mighty,
YHWH mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates;
yes, lift them up, you everlasting doors,
and the King of glory will come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
YHWH of Armies is the King of glory!
Who has influenced you, your thoughts, and your philosophy?
Everyone’s a follower. Even the most original of thinkers can attribute some of their insight to mentors or influences. As humans, we don’t live in isolation; we interact with others and even adopt their thinking.
As Christians, we follow Jesus of Nazareth. Of course, he is more than an influence or mentor. He is our example, our light in the darkness, our very life. If Jesus were to return today, we would form a procession behind him, as he led us to worship the Father. In that procession, we would probably sing a hymn like Psalm 24.
Psalm 24 was a processional psalm built in a call-response format. 24:1-2 was a universal call to worship YHWH. He created the world and all its inhabitants; he controlled the flow of the water which defined the dry land. The questions of 24:3 set up the response: if YHWH was the God of all, who should follow the procession to his Temple? 24:4-5 answered the questions with a definition of the faithful. The true believer followed the Law completely (“has kosher hands”) and worshiped with a single intent (“has a pure heart”). The believer’s relationship with YHWH was reflected in his relationship with his neighbor; he does not aspire to a false ideal and does not mislead with false oaths. In return, this believer would enjoy blessings from his Maker.
In 24:7-10, the subject of the psalm shifted from the follower to the worship of the community. The psalm called out to the Jerusalem twice to raise it’s voice in praise, then phrase the response with a question: Who is the King of glory? (24:7-8a, 24:9-10a). The call to Jerusalem (“lift up your heads, O gates, lift up, O ancient doors”) could not refer to the city gates because a fortified entrance that rose upward did not exist in the ancient world. Scholars are divided over the meaning of the call; who or what were the gates? The context of the psalm implied the gates/doors were living beings. Some saw the gates as the priests or other worship leaders. Others saw the gates as angelic beings (represented by the cherubim decorations on the Ark of the Covenant). A third option saw the populace of the city itself as the gates/doors; their cheers welcomed the procession to the city. In any case, the response to the call defined YHWH, the King of glory, as a warrior deity (“YHWH, strong and almighty, YHWH, strong in battle”). The God of Israel triumphed over his foes. In sum, Psalm 24 was hymn of victory sung by a jubilant procession. We can easily see this psalm on the lips of the army as it returned to Jerusalem after a successful campaign.
While we might not envision God the Father in military terms, we still desire to worship him and follow his Son. He is the King of Glory, for his is victorious over death. He is the one we follow through death to life with the Father. Psalm 24 is a perfect hymn to sing on our Christian journey.
How can you follow Jesus this day? How can you show others the King of Glory?