Friday, September 25, 2015

Who is the King of Glory?: Learning to Pray Psalm 24

Psalm 24 is a powerful declaration of the LORD’s kingship. It flows through three movements: vv. 1–2 declare God’s credentials as Creator, vv. 3–6 describe the character of his followers, and vv. 7–10 welcome God’s arrival by announcing his victory. This psalm probably was originally used in temple services that celebrated the LORD as King of Creation. We can read it profitably as a prayer of praise to our LORD and a call to holiness as we seek to reflect his character to the world.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
    and established it on the waters.
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.[a]
They will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek your face, God of Jacob.[b][c]
Lift up your heads, you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord strong and mighty,
    the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
    lift them up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
    The Lord Almighty—
    he is the King of glory.

Vv. 1–2 identify the LORD as the creator and ruler of the earth. This is an important declaration in the ancient world. It is the means by which a god demonstrates his superiority over all others. Since the LORD can secure the earth and make it a safe place for life, then this proves that the LORD is truly lord of all. The opening verses invite us to recognize God as king and to dethrone any “little” kings in our lives that may diminish our capacity to serve and trust the King.

Vv. 3–6 turn to the worshipers who have gathered to celebrate the LORD as king. Verse 3 asks a question of credentials: Who is able to gather in the temple to await the coming the victorious creator and king? Verses 4–6 answer this question by focusing on character rather than social status or accomplishments. Verse 4 focuses our attention to our inner motives. The language is “clean/innocent hands and a pure heart.” Heart is the intellectual and decision making center of a person. In other words, God’s people are to be whole persons whose inner motivations are in line with the mission and will of God. This proper alignment of our intentions with God’s will then flows into our actions that we take with our hands, feet, and mouths. The key to living from a purity of heart is trust. In our world, there are gods screaming out for our devotion and trust: wealth, security, sex, family, and status are a few examples. Those who turn from these little gods to trust fully in Jesus and walk faithfully in following his way will find their way to the gathering of them that await the victorious LORD.

Verses 7–10 narrate the arrival of the victorious king of the world. In each these verses, God bears the title “the King of glory.” This is a statement of God’s awesomeness or incomparability. There is no one like the LORD. The King of glory is the LORD Almighty. As Christians, we read this psalm as a celebration of the crucified and rise Lord Jesus. Paul writes in Philippians 2:10-11” at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord….” The LORD Jesus has secured our future and our world. We give him our worship and adoration as we await his return to usher in the New Creation.

How does Psalm 24 provide a foundation for true security?

What is the link between character and worship in Psalm 24?

What is the basis for worshiping the LORD?

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