1 The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord; 2 for he laid its foundation on the seas and established it on the rivers. 3 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? 4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not appealed to what is false, and who has not sworn 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 inquire of him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah 7 Lift up your heads, you gates! Rise up, ancient doors! Then the King of glory will come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, you gates! Rise up, ancient doors! Then the King of glory will come in. 10 Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord of Armies, he is the King of glory. Selah — Psalm 24
The King of Glory
In one of G.K. Chesterton’s novels about the crime solving priest, Father Brown says, "It's not that they can't see the solution. They can't see the problem." This quote captures what made Father Brown truly insightful: he knew how to ask the right questions. We too must learn how to ask the right questions if we wish to get to right answers, answers that are significant for who we are and what our lives are about.
This psalm asks the right questions. In this psalm, David asks two of the most important questions for any person to ask:
- Who is the King of glory? (verses 8 & 10)
- Who may stand in His holy place? (verse 3)
David answers the first question in verse 8 by saying, “The Lord, strong and mighty.” And in verses 1 and 2, he tells us something incredible about the Lord. “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord; for he laid its foundation on the seas and established it on the rivers.”
The Lord of Glory created the world and everything/everyone in it; therefore, it all belongs to Him. God made you and me to belong to Him. To love and serve Him. To have a relationship with Him. So, being insightful like Father Brown, David asks the right question: who has the ability to actually do what he was created for?
In verse 3 David asks, “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?” These are metaphors for being in the presence of God. The questions is, who has the right to live in the presence of God? The answer comes in the next verse, “The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not appealed to what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully.” That answer is crushing. None of us live up to that standard.
But hope comes in the next verse. “He will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” This is a beautiful explanation of the gospel. The righteousness that is required to stand in the presence of God is given to us by God Himself. We receive righteousness from the God of our salvation. This psalm points us directly to Jesus who was the only person who truly did have clean hands and a pure heart, but was made to be “sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The next verse tells us our role: “Such is the generation of those who inquire of him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.” We are to inquire of Christ and seek the face of God. We look to Him in faith, and we remain desperately dependent on Him in order to do what we were created to do: to know and love the King of glory who declares from His throne, “God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God” (Revelation 21:3).
- How can I make a practice of asking and answering the right kinds of questions?
- How should God’s role as creator and king affect our relationship with Him and others?
- Am I “appealing to what is false,” or am I “seeking the face of the God of Jacob”?
- Have I recognized that my hands are not clean enough and my heart is not pure enough to stand in the presence of God? Am I continually trusting in Jesus Christ for His righteousness and salvation so I can live before the Lord of glory?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.