Psalm 24:7
Lift up your heads, O you gates; and be you lift up, you everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Gates.—The LXX. and Vulgate miss this fine personification, by rendering “princes” instead of “heads.”

“Lift up your gates, O princes.”

The sacrifice of the poetry to antiquarianism, by introducing the idea of a “portcullis,” is little less excusable. The poet deems the ancient gateways of the conquered castle far too low for the dignity of the approaching Monarch, and calls on them to open wide and high to give room for His passage.

Everlasting doors.—Better, ancient doors, “gates of old;” an appropriate description of the gates of the grim old Jebusite fortress, “so venerable with unconquered age.” For ôlam in this sense comp. the giants “of old” (Genesis 6:4), the “everlasting hills” (Genesis 49:26, &c.), and see Note to Psalm 89:1.

The King of glory shall come in.—This name, in which the claim for admission is made, connects the psalm immediately with the ark; that glory, which had fled with the sad cry Ichabod, has returned; the symbol of the Divine presence and of victory comes to seek a lasting resting-place.

Psalms

THE GOD WHO DWELLS WITH MEN

Psalm 24:7 - Psalm 24:10
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This whole psalm was probably composed at the time of the bringing of the ark into the city of Zion. The former half was chanted as the procession wound its way up the hillside. It mainly consists of the answer to the question ‘Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?’ and describes the kind of men that dwell with God, and the way by which they obtain their purity.

This second half of our psalm is probably to be thought of as being chanted when the procession had reached the summit of the hill and stood before the barred gates of the ancient Jebusite city. It is mainly in answer to the question, ‘Who is this King of Glory?’ and is the description of the God that dwells with men, and the meaning of His dwelling with them.

We are to conceive of a couple of half choirs, the one within, the other without the mountain hold. The advancing choir summons the gates to open in the grand words: ‘Lift up your heads, O ye gates! even lift them up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in.’ Their lofty lintels are too low for His head to pass beneath; so they have to be lifted that He may find entrance. They are ‘everlasting doors,’ grey with antiquity, hoary with age. They have looked down, perhaps, upon Melchizedek, King of Salem, as he went forth in the morning twilight of history to greet the patriarch. But in all the centuries they have never seen such a King as this King of Glory, the true King of Israel who now desires entrance.

The answer to the summons comes from the choir within. ‘Who is this King of Glory?’ the question represents ignorance and possible hesitation, as if the pagan inhabitants of the recently conquered city knew nothing of the God of Israel, and recognised no authority in His name. Of course, the dramatic form of question and answer is intended to give additional force to the proclamation as by God Himself of the Covenant name, the proper name of Israel’s God, as Baal was the name of the Canaanite’s God, ‘the Lord strong and mighty; the Lord mighty in battle,’ by whose warrior power David had conquered the city, which now was summoned to receive its conqueror. Therefore the summons is again rung out, ‘Lift up your heads, O ye gates! and the King of Glory shall come in.’ And once more, to express the lingering reluctance, ignorance not yet dispelled, suspicion and unwilling surrender, the dramatic question is repeated, ‘Who is this King of Glory?’ The answer is sharp and authoritative in its brevity, and we may fancy it shouted with a full-throated burst-’The Lord of Hosts,’ who, as Captain, commands all the embattled energies of earth and heaven conceived as a disciplined army. That great name, like a charge of dynamite, bursts the gates of brass asunder, and with triumphant music the procession sweeps into the conquered city.

Now these great words, throbbing with the enthusiasm at once of poetry and of devotion, may, I think, teach us a great deal if we ponder them.

I. Notice, first, their application, their historical and original application, to the King who dwelt with Israel.

We must never forget that in the Old Testament we have to do with an incomplete and a progressive revelation, and that if we would understand its significance, we must ever endeavour to ascertain to what point in that progress the words before us belong. We are not to read into these words New Testament depth and fulness of meaning; we are to take them and try to find out what they meant to David and to his people; and so we shall get a firm basis for any deeper significance which we may hereafter see in them. The thought of God, then, in these words is mainly that of a God of strong and victorious energy, a warrior-God, a conquering King, one whose word is power, who rules amidst the armies of heaven, and amidst the inhabitants of earth.

A brief consideration of each expression is all which can be attempted here. ‘Who is this King of Glory?’ The first idea, then, is that of sovereign rule; the idea which had become more and more plain and clear to the national consciousness of the Hebrew with the installation of monarchy amongst them. And it is very beautiful to see how David lays hold of that thought of God being Himself the King of Israel; and dwells so often in his psalms on the idea that he, poor, pale, earthly shadow, is but a representative and a viceroy of the true King who sits in the heavens. He takes off his crown and lays it before His throne and says: ‘Thou art the King of Israel, the King of Glory.’

The Old Testament meaning of that word ‘glory’ is a great deal more definite than the ordinary religious use of it amongst us. The ‘glory of God’ in the Old Testament is, first and foremost, the supernatural light that dwelt between the cherubim and was the manifestation and symbol of the divine Presence. And next it is the sum total of all the impression made upon the world by God’s manifestation of Himself, the Light, of which the material and supernatural light between the cherubs was but the emblem; all by which God flames and flashes Himself upon the trembling and thankful heart; that glory which is substantially the same as the Name of the Lord. And in this brightness, lustrous and dark with excess of light, this King dwells. The splendour of His regalia is the brightness that emanates from Himself. He is the King of Glory.

Next, we have the great Name, ‘the Lord,’ Jehovah, which speaks of timeless, independent, unchanging, self-sufficing being. It declares that He is His own cause, His own law, His own impulse, the staple from which all the links of the chain of being depend, and not Himself a link, the fontal Source of all which is.

We say: ‘I am that which I have become; I am that which I have been made; I am that which I have inherited; I am that which circumstances and example and training have shaped me to be.’ God says: ‘I AM THAT I AM.’ This name is also significant, not only because it proclaims absolute, independent, underived, timeless being, but because it is the Covenant name, and speaks of the God who has come into fellowship with men, and has bound Himself to a certain course of action for their blessing, and is thus the Lord of Israel, and the God, in a special manner, of His people.

‘The Lord mighty in battle.’ A true warrior-God, who went out in no metaphorical sense, but in prose reality, fought for His people and subdued the nations under them, in order that His name might be spread and His glory be known in the earth.

And then, still further, ‘the Lord of Hosts,’ the Captain of all the armies of heaven and earth. In that name is the thought to which the modern world is coming so slowly by scientific paths, that all being is one ordered whole, subject to the authority of one Lord. And in addition to that, the grander thought, that the unity of nature is the will of God; and that as the Commander issues His orders over all the field, so He speaks and it is done. The hosts are the angels of whom it is said: ‘Bless the Lord all ye His hosts; ye ministers of His that do His pleasure.’ The hosts are the stars that fill the nightly heavens, of whom it is said, ‘He bringeth out their host by number.’ The hosts are all creatures that live and are; and all are the soldiers and servants of this conquering King. Such is the name of the Lord that dwelt with Israel, the great conception that rises before this Psalmist.

II. Now turn to the second application of these great words, that speak to us not only of the God that dwelt in Zion in outward and symbolical form, by means of a material Presence which was an emblem of the true nearness of Israel’s God, but yet more distinctly, as I take it, of the Christ that dwells with men.

The devout hearts in Israel felt that there was something more needed than this dwelling of Jehovah within an earthly Temple, and the process of revelation familiarised them with the thought that there was to be in the future a ‘coming of the Lord’ in some special manner unknown to them. So that the whole anticipation and forward look of the Old Testament system is gathered into and expressed by almost its last words, which prophesy that ‘the Lord shall suddenly come to His Temple,’ and that once again this King of Glory shall stand before the everlasting gates and summon them to open.

And when was that fulfilled? Fulfilled in a fashion that at first sight seems the greatest contrast to all this vision of grandeur, of warlike strength, of imperial power and rule with which we have been dealing; but which yet was not the contrast to these ideas so much as the highest embodiment of them. For, although at first sight it seems as if there could be no greater contrast than between the lion might of the Jehovah of the Old Testament, and the lamb gentleness of the Jesus of the New, if we look more closely we shall see that it is not a relation of contrast that exists between the two. Christ is all, and more than all, that this psalm proclaimed the Jehovah of the Old Covenant to be. Let us look again from that point of view at the particulars already referred to.

He is the highest manifestation of the divine rule and authority. There is no dominion like the dominion of the loving Christ, a kingdom based upon suffering and wielded in gentleness, a kingdom of which the crown is a wreath of thorns, and the sceptre a rod of reed; a dominion which is all exercised for the blessing of its subjects, and which, therefore, is an everlasting dominion. There is no rule like that; no height of divine authority towers so high as the authority of Him who rules us so absolutely because He gave Himself for us utterly. This is the King, the Prince of the kings of the earth, because this is the Incarnate God who died for us.

Christ is the highest raying out of the divine Light, or, as the Epistle to the Hebrews calls it, ‘the effulgence of His glory.’ The true glory of God lies in His love, and of that love Christ is the noblest and most wondrous example. So all other beams of the divine character, bright as their light is, are but dim as compared with the sevenfold lustre of the light that shines from the gentle loving-kindness of the heart of Christ. He has glorified God because He shows us that the divinest thing in God is love.

For the same reason, He is the mightiest exhibition of the divine power-’the Lord strong and mighty.’ There is no work of God’s hand, no work of God’s will so great as that by which we are turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. The Cross is God’s noblest revelation of power; and in Him, His weakness, His surrender, His death, with all the wonderful energies that flow from that death for man’s salvation, we see the divine strength made perfect in the human weakness of Jesus. The Gospel of Christ ‘is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.’ There is divine power in its noblest form, in the paradoxical shape of a dying man; in its noblest effect, salvation; in its widest sweep to all who believe.

‘‘Twas great to speak a world from nought,

‘Tis greater to redeem.’

This ‘strong Son of God’ is the arm of the Lord in whom live and act the energies of omnipotence.

Christ is ‘the Lord mighty in battle.’ True, He is the Prince of peace, but He is also the better Joshua, the victorious Captain, in whom dwells the conquering divine might. Through all the gentleness of His life there winds a martial strain, and it is not in vain that the Evangelist who was most deeply penetrated by the sweetness of His love, is the one who most often speaks of Him as overcoming, and who has preserved as His last words to His timid followers, that triumphant command, ‘Be of good cheer! I have overcome the world.’ He has conquered for us, binding the strong man, and so He will spoil his house. Sin, hell, death, the devil, law, fear, our own foolish hearts, all temptations that hover around us-they are all vanquished foes of a ‘Lord’ that is ‘mighty in battle.’ And as He overcame, so shall we if we will trust Him.

Christ is the Commander and Wielder of all the forces of the universe. As one said to Him in the days of His flesh, ‘I am a man under authority, and I say to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. So do Thou speak and Thy word shall be sovereign.’ And so it was. He spake to diseases and they vanished. He spake to the winds and the seas and there was a great calm. He spake to demons, and murmuring, but yet obedient, they came out of their victims. He flung His word into the recesses of the grave, and Lazarus came forth, fumbling with the knots on his grave-clothes, and stumbling into the light. ‘He spake and it was done.’ Who is He, the utterance of whose will is sovereign amongst all the regions of being? ‘Who is the King of Glory?’ ‘Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ!’ ‘Thou art the Everlasting Son of the Father.’

III. And now, lastly, let me ask you to look, and that for a moment, at the application of these words to the Christ who will dwell in our hearts.

His historical manifestation here upon earth and His Incarnation, which is the true dwelling of Deity amongst men, are not enough. They have left something more than a memory to the world. He is as ready to abide as really within our spirits as He was to tabernacle upon earth amongst men. And the very central message of that Gospel which Is proclaimed to us all is this, that if we will open the gates of our hearts He will come in, in all the plenitude of His victorious power, and dwell in our hearts, their Conqueror and their King.

What a strange contrast, and yet what a close analogy there is between the victorious tones and martial air of this summons of my text. ‘Lift up your heads, O ye gates! that the King of Glory may come in,’ and the gentle words of the Apocalypse: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him.’ But He that in the Old Covenant arrayed in warrior arms, summoned the rebels to surrender, is the same as He who, in the New, with the night-dews in His hair, and patience on His face, and gentleness in the touch of His hand upon the door, waits to enter in. Brethren! open your hearts, ‘and the King of Glory shall come in.’

And He will come in as a king that might seek to enter some city far away on the outposts of his kingdom, besieged by his enemies. If the King comes in, the city will be impregnable. If you open your hearts for Him He will come and keep you from all your foes and give you the victory over them all. So, to every hard-pressed heart, waging an unequal contest with toils and temptations, and sorrows and sins, this great hope is given, that Christ the Victor will come in His power to garrison heart and mind. As of old the encouragement was given to Hezekiah in his hour of peril, when the might of Sennacherib insolently threatened Jerusalem, so the same stirring assurances are given to each who admits Christ’s succours to his heart-’He shall not come into this city, for I will defend this city to save it for Mine own sake’ Open your hearts and the conquering King will come in.

And do not forget that there is another possible application of these words lying in the future, to the conquering Christ who shall come again. The whole history of the past points onwards to yet a last time when ‘the Lord shall suddenly come to His temple,’ and predicts that Christ shall so come in like manner as He went up to heaven. Again will the summons ring out. Again will He come arrayed in flashing brightness, and the visible robes of His imperial majesty. Again will He appear, mighty in battle, when ‘in righteousness He shall judge and make war.’ For a Christian, one great memory fills the past-Christ has come; and one great hope brightens the else waste future-Christ will come. That hope has been far too much left to be cherished only by those who hold a particular opinion as to the chronology of unfulfilled prophecy. But it should be to every Christian heart ‘the blessed hope,’ even the appearing of the glory of Him who has come in the past. He is with and in us, in the present. He will come in the future ‘in His glory, and shall sit upon the throne of His glory.’ All our pardon and hope of God’s love depend upon that great fact in the past, that ‘the Lord was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.’ Our purity which will fit us to dwell with God, our present blessedness, all our power for daily strife, and our companionship in daily loneliness, depend on the present fact that He dwells in our hearts by faith, the seed of all good, and the conquering Antagonist of every evil. And the one light which fills the future with hope, peaceful because assured, streams from that most sure promise that He will come again, sweeping from the highest heavens, on His head the many crowns of universal monarchy, in His hand the weapons of all-conquering power, and none shall need to ask, ‘Who is this King of Glory?’ for every eye shall know Him, the Judge upon His throne, to be the Christ of the Cross. Open the doors of your hearts to Him, as He sues for entrance now in the meekness of His patient love, that on you may fall in that day of the coming of the King, the blessing of the servants who wait for their returning Lord, that ‘when He cometh and knocketh, they may open unto Him immediately.’Psalm 24:7. Lift up your heads, O ye gates — The questions, Who shall ascend God’s hill, namely, to worship? and, Who shall stand in his holy place, to minister before and serve him? being answered, the psalmist proceeds to speak next of the introduction of the presence of him into that place whom they were to worship, namely, the great and glorious Jehovah. For what would it signify that they were prepared to worship, if HE whom they were to worship were not present to accept and bless his worshippers? David speaks here of the gates and doors, either, 1st, Of his royal city Zion, through which the ark was now to pass to the tabernacle which he had built for it. And he calls these doors everlasting, either on account of the durableness of the matter of which they were made; or from his desires and hopes that God would make them everlasting, or of long continuance, because he loved the gates of Zion, Psalm 87:2. Or, he speaks, 2d, Of the gates of the court of the tabernacle, or of the tabernacle itself, into which the ark, the emblem of the divine presence, was now to be brought. Or, 3d, When composing this Psalm, he might look forward in a spirit of prophecy to the temple, beholding it as already built, and accordingly might address his speech to the gates and doors of it, terming them everlasting, not so much because they were made of strong and durable materials, as in opposition to those of the tabernacle, which were removed from place to place; whereas the temple and its doors were constantly fixed in one place; and, if the sins of Israel had not hindered, would have abode there for ever, that is, as long as the Mosaic dispensation lasted, or until the coming of the Messiah, as the phrase, for ever, is very commonly taken in the Old Testament. These gates he bids lift up their heads, or tops, by allusion to those gates which have a portcullis, the head of which, when it is lifted up, rises conspicuous above the gates, and accordingly makes the entrance higher, and more magnificent. But though this be the literal sense of the place, yet it has also a mystical sense, and that too designed by the Holy Ghost. And as the temple was a type of Christ, and of his church, and of heaven itself; so this place may also contain a representation, either of Christ’s entrance into his church, or into the hearts of his faithful people, who are here commanded to set open their hearts and souls for his reception: or, of his ascension into heaven, where the saints, or angels, are poetically introduced as preparing the way, and opening the heavenly gates to receive their Lord and King, returning to his royal habitation with triumph and glory. The King of glory — The glorious King Jehovah, who resided in the Shechinah, or glory, over the ark, the symbol of his presence, and between the cherubim. Or, the Messiah, the King of Israel, and of his church, called the King, or Lord of glory, 1 Corinthians 2:8; James 2:1, both for that glory which is inherent in him, and that which is purchased by him for his members. 24:7-10 The splendid entry here described, refers to the solemn bringing in of the ark into the tent David pitched for it, or the temple Solomon built for it. We may also apply it to the ascension of Christ into heaven, and the welcome given to him there. Our Redeemer found the gates of heaven shut, but having by his blood made atonement for sin, as one having authority, he demanded entrance. The angels were to worship him, Heb 1:6: they ask with wonder, Who is he? It is answered, that he is strong and mighty; mighty in battle to save his people, and to subdue his and their enemies. We may apply it to Christ's entrance into the souls of men by his word and Spirit, that they may be his temples. Behold, he stands at the door, and knocks, Rev 3:20. The gates and doors of the heart are to be opened to him, as possession is delivered to the rightful owner. We may apply it to his second coming with glorious power. Lord, open the everlasting door of our souls by thy grace, that we may now receive thee, and be wholly thine; and that, at length, we may be numbered with thy saints in glory.Lift up your heads, O ye gates - Either the gates of the city, or of the house erected for the worship of God; most probably, as has been remarked, the former. This may be supposed to have been uttered as the procession approached the city where the ark was to abide, as a summons to admit the King of glory to a permanent residence there. It would seem not improbable that the gates of the city were originally made in the form of a portcullis, as the gates of the old castles in the feudal ages were, not to "open," but to be "lifted up" by weights and pullies. In some of the old ruins of castles in Palestine there are still to be seen deep grooves in the "posts" of the gateway, showing that the door did not open and shut, but that it was drawn up or let down. (The Land and the Book, vol. i. p. 376. One such I saw at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight; and they were common in the castles erected in the Middle Ages.) There were some advantages in this, as they could be suddenly "let down" on an enemy about to enter, when it would be difficult to close them if they were made to open as doors and gates are commonly made. Thus understood, the "heads" of the gates would be the top, perhaps ornamented in some such way as to suggest the idea of a "head," and the command was that these should be elevated to admit the ark of God to pass.

And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors - The doors of a city or sanctuary that was now to be the permanent place of the worship of God. The ark was to be fixed and settled there. It was no longer to be moved from place to place. It had found a final home. The idea in the word "everlasting" is that of permanence. The place where the ark was to abide was to be the enduring place of worship; or was to endure as long as the worship of God in that form should continue. There is no evidence that the author of the psalm supposed that those doors would be literally eternal, but the language is such as we use when we say of anything that it is permanent and abiding.

And the King of glory shall come in - The glorious King. The allusion is to God as a King. On the cover of the ark, or the mercy-seat, the symbol of the divine presence - the Shekinah - rested; and hence, it was natural to say that God would enter through those gates. In other words, the cover of the ark was regarded as his abode - His seat - His throne; and, as thus occupying the mercy-seat, He was about to enter the place of His permanent abode. Compare Exodus 25:17, Exodus 25:20, Exodus 25:22.

7-10. The entrance of the ark, with the attending procession, into the holy sanctuary is pictured to us. The repetition of the terms gives emphasis.7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord is strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

Psalm 24:7

These last verses reveal to us the great representative man, who answered to the full character laid down, and therefore by his own right ascended the holy hill of Zion. Our Lord Jesus Christ could ascend into the hill of the Lord because his hands were clean and his heart was pure, and if we by faith in him are conformed to his image we shall enter too. We have here a picture of our Lord's glorious ascent. We see him rising from amidst the little group upon Olivet, and as the cloud receives him, angels reverently escort him to the gates of heaven.

The ancient gates of the eternal temple are personified and addressed in song by the attending cohort of rejoicing spirits.

"Lo his triumphal chariot waits,

And angels chant the solemn lay,

'Lift up your heads, ye heavenly gates;

Ye everlasting doors, give way.'"

They are called upon "to lift up their heads," as though with all their glory they were not great enough for the Allglorious King. Let all things do their utmost to honour so great a Prince; let the highest heaven put on unusual loftiness in honour of "the King of Glory." He who, fresh from the cross and the tomb, now rides through the gates of the New Jerusalem is higher than the heavens; great and everlasting as they are, those gates of pearl are all unworthy of him before whom the heavens are not pure, and who chargeth his angels with folly. "Lift up your heads, O ye gates."

Psalm 24:8

The watchers at the gate hearing the song look over the battlements and ask, "Who is this King of glory?" A question full of meaning and worthy of the meditations of eternity. Who is he in person, nature, character, office and work? What is his pedigree? What his rank and what his race? The answer given in a might wave of music is, "The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle." We know the might of Jesus by the battles which he has fought, the victories which he has won over sin, and death, and hell, and we clap our hands as we see him leading captivity captive in the majesty of his strength. Oh for a heart to sing his praises! Mighty hero, be thou crowned for ever King of kings and Lord of lords.

continued...

The question was put, Who shall ascend into God’s hill and holy place? Psalm 24:3; to which answer hath been given, and the persons described, Psalm 24:4-6. But because there still were impediments in the way, and there were

gates and doors to this holy place, to shut out those who would ascend thither, therefore he poetically speaks to those gates to open and let in the King of glory, who would make way for his subjects and followers. Here is a representation of a triumphant entrance of a king into his royal city and palace; for which the gates use to be enlarged, or at least wide opened. He speaks here of the gates and doors, either,

1. Of his royal city of Zion, through which the ark was at this time to be brought to the tabernacle, which David had built for it, called everlasting, either from the solidity and durableness of the matter, or from David’s desires and hopes that God would make them such in some sort, because he loved the gates of Zion, Psalm 87:2. Or rather,

2. Of the temple, which by faith and the Spirit of prophecy he beheld as already built, and accordingly addresseth his speech to it, whose doors he calls everlasting, not so much because they were made of strong and durable materials, as in opposition of those of the tabernacle, which were removed from place to place, whereas the temple and its doors were constantly fixed in one place; and if the sins of Israel did not hinder, were to abide there for ever, i.e.: as long as the Mosaical dispensation was to last, or until the coming of the Messias, as that phrase is very commonly taken in the Old Testament. These gates he bids lift up their heads, or tops, either by allusion to those gates which have a portcullis at the top of them, which may be let down or taken up, and accordingly makes the entrance either higher or lower; or that by this figurative address to the gates he might signify the duty of the people to make their gates higher and wider, to give their king a more magnificent entrance. But though this be the literal sense of the place, yet there is also a mystical sense of it, and that too designed by the Holy Ghost. And as the temple was undoubtedly a type of Christ, and of his church, and of heaven itsself; so this place may also contain a representation, either of Christ’s entrance into his church, or into the hearts of his faithful people, who are here commanded to set open their hearts and souls, which are not unfitly called everlasting doors, for his reception; or of his ascension into heaven, where the saints or angels are poetically introduced as preparing the way, and opening the heavenly gates, to receive their Lord and King, returning to his royal habitation with triumph and glory. Compare Psalm 47:5 68:25 Acts 2:33 Ephesians 4:8.

The King of glory; the glorious King Jehovah, who dwelt in the temple and between the cherubims; or the Messias, the King of Israel, and of his church, called the King or Lord of glory, 1 Corinthians 2:8 Jam 2:1, both for that glory which is inherent in him, and that which is purchased by him for his members. Lift up your heads, O ye gates,.... By which the gates of hell are not meant; nor are the words to be understood of the descent of Christ thither, to fetch the souls of Old Testament saints from thence; who the Papists dream were detained in an apartment there, as in a prison, called by them "limbus patrum"; seeing these, immediately upon their separation from the body, were in a state of happiness and glory, as the parable of the rich man and Lazarus shows; and since Christ, at his death, went, in his human soul, immediately into heaven, or paradise, where the penitent thief was that day with him: nor do the words design the gates of heaven, and Christ's ascension thither, shut by the sins of men, and opened by the blood of Christ, by which he entered himself, and has made way for all his people; though this sense is much preferable to the former. The Jewish interpreters understand the phrase of the gates of the temple, which David prophetically speaks of as to be opened, when it should be built and dedicated by Solomon, and when the ark, the symbol of Jehovah's presence, was brought into it, and the glory of the Lord filled the house; so the Targum interprets this first clause of "the gates of the house of the sanctuary"; though the next of "the gates of the garden of Eden"; but the words are better interpreted, in a mystical and spiritual sense, of the church of God, the temple of the living God, which is said to have gates, Isaiah 60:11; and is itself called a door, Sol 8:9; where the open door of the Gospel is set, or an opportunity of preaching the Gospel given, and a door of utterance to the ministers of the word, and the doors of men's hearts are opened to attend to it; and indeed the hearts of particular believers, individual members of the church, may be intended, or at least included in the sense of the passage; see Revelation 3:20; and it may be observed, that the new Jerusalem is said to have gates of pearl, through which Christ, when he makes his glorious appearance, will enter in his own glory, and in his father's, and in the glory of the holy angels;

and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; or "the doors of the world" (n); which some understand of the kingdoms and nations of the world, and of the kings and princes thereof, as called upon to open and make way for, and receive the Gospel of Christ into them, and to support and retain it; but it is best to interpret it of the church and its members, whose continuance, perpetuity, and duration, are here intimated, by being called "everlasting doors"; which may be said to be "lifted up", as it may respect churches, when those things are removed which hinder communion with Christ; as their sins, which separate between them and their God, and the wall of unbelief, behind which Christ stands; and sleepiness, drowsiness, coldness, lukewarmness, and indifference; see Isaiah 59:2; and when public worship is closely and strictly attended on, as the ministration of the word and ordinances, prayer to God, which is the lifting up the heart with the hands to God, and singing his praise: and as it may respect particular believers; these doors and gates may be said to be lifted up, when their hearts are enlarged with the love of God; the desires and affections of their souls are drawn out towards the Lord, and the graces of the Spirit are in a lively exercise on him; and when they lift up their heads with joy in a view of Christ coming to them. This must not be understood as if they could do all this of themselves, any more than gates and doors can be thought to open and lift up themselves;

and the King of glory shall come in; the Lord Jesus Christ, called the Lord of glory, 1 Corinthians 2:8; who is glorious in himself, in the perfections of his divine nature, as the Son of God; being the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person; and in his office as Mediator, being full of grace and truth, and having a glory given him before the world was; and which became manifest upon his resurrection, ascension to heaven, and session at God's right hand; and particularly he is glorious as a King, being made higher than the kings of the earth, and crowned with glory and honour; and so the Targum renders it , "the glorious King"; and he is moreover the author and giver, the sum and substance, of the glory and happiness of the saints: and now, as the inhabitants of Zion, and members of the church, are described in the preceding verses, an account is given of the King of Zion in this and the following; who may be said to "come into" his churches, when he grants his gracious presence, shows himself through the lattices, and in the galleries of ordinances, in his beauty and glory; takes his walks there, and his goings are seen, even in the sanctuary; and where he dwells as King in his palace, and as a Son in his own house; and he may be said to come into the hearts of particular believers, when he manifests himself, his love and grace, unto them, and grants them such communion as is expressed by supping with them, and by dwelling in their hearts by faith,

(n) "ostia mundi", Gejerus, Schmidt.

{c} Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

(c) David desires the building up of the temple, in which the glory of God should appear and under the figure of this temple, he also prays for the spiritual temple, which is eternal because of the promise which was made to the temple, as it is written, Ps 132:14.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. Lift up your heads] As though they were too low and mean for the entrance of “the high and lofty one” who comes, and in token that all resistance is at an end.

ye everlasting doors] Or, ye ancient doors, venerable with unknown antiquity.

and the King &c.] Or, that the King of glory may come in. The Ark, “which is called by the Name, even the name of the Lord of hosts that sitteth upon the cherubim” (2 Samuel 6:2) was the symbol of Jehovah’s majesty and the pledge of His Presence among His people (Numbers 10:35-36). When the ark was lost, “the glory departed from Israel” (1 Samuel 4:21). Cp. Psalm 19:1, note.

7–10. The procession has reached the ancient gates of Zion. They are summoned to open high and wide to admit their true King.Verse 7. - Lift up your heads, O ye gates. So sang one half of the choir, calling upon the gates to throw themselves wide open to their full height, that free entrance might he given to the approaching sacred fabric. And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors. Pleonastic, But giving the emphasis of repetition, and adding the epithet "everlasting," because the tabernacle was viewed as about to be continued in the temple, and the temple was designed to be God's house "for ever" (1 Kings 8:13). And the King of glory shall come in. God was regarded as dwelling between the cherubim on the mercy-seat, where the Shechinah from time to time made its appearance. The entrance of the ark into the tabernacle was thus the "coming in of the King of glory." Jahve, whose throne of grace is now set upon Zion, has not a limited dominion, like the heathen deities: His right to sovereignty embraces the earth and its fulness (Psalm 50:12; Psalm 89:12), i.e., everything that is to be found upon it and in it.

(Note: In 1 Corinthians 10:26, Paul founds on this verse (cf. Psalm 50:12) the doctrine that a Christian (apart from a charitable regard for the weak) may eat whatever is sold in the shambles, without troubling himself to enquire whether it has been offered to idols or not. A Talmudic teacher, B. Berachoth 35a, infers from this passage the duty of prayer before meat: He who eats without giving thanks is like one who lays hands upon קדשׁי שׁמים (the sacred things of God); the right to eat is only obtained by prayer.)

For He, הוא, is the owner of the world, because its Creator. He has founded it upon seas, i.e., the ocean and its streams, נהרות, ῥέεθρα (Jonah 2:4); for the waters existed before the dry land, and this has been cast up out of them at God's word, so that consequently the solid land, - which indeed also conceals in its interior a תּהום רבּה (Genesis 7:11), - rising above the surface of the sea, has the waters, as it were, for its foundation (Psalm 136:6), although it would more readily sink down into them than keep itself above them, if it were not in itself upheld by the creative power of God. Hereupon arises the question, who may ascend the mountain of Jahve, and stand above in His holy place? The futures have a potential signification: who can have courage to do it? what, therefore, must he be, whom Jahve receives into His fellowship, and with whose worship He is well-pleased? Answer: he must be one innocent in his actions and pure in mind, one who does not lift up his soul to that which is vain (לשּׁוא, according to the Masora with Waw minusculum). (ל) נשׂא נפשׁ אל, to direct one's soul, Psalm 25:1, or longing and striving, towards anything, Deuteronomy 24:15; Proverbs 19:18; Hosea 4:8. The Ker נפשׁי is old and acknowledged by the oldest authorities.

(Note: The reading נפשׁי is adopted by Saadia (in Enumoth ii., where נפשׁי is equivalent to שׁמי), Juda ha-Levi (Cuzari iii. 27), Abulwalid (Rikma p. 180), Rashi, Kimchi, the Sohar, the Codices (and among others by that of the year 1294) and most editions (among which, the Complutensis has נפשׁי in the text). Nor does Aben-Ezra, whom Norzi has misunderstood, by any means reverse the relation of the Chethb and Ker; to him נפשׁי is the Ker, and he explains it as a metaphor (an anthropomorphism): וכתוב נפשי דוך כנוי. Elias Levita is the only one who rejects the Ker נפשׁי; but he does so though misunderstanding a Masora (vid., Baer's Psalterium p. 130) and not without admitting Masoretic testimony in favour of it (וכן ראיתי ברוב נוסחאות המסורת). He is the only textual critic who rejects it. For Jacob b. Chajim is merely astonished that נפשׁו is not to be found in the Masoreth register of words written with Waw and to be read with Jod. And even Norzi does not reject this Ker, which he is obliged to admit has greatly preponderating testimony in its favour, and he would only too gladly get rid of it.)

Even the lxx Cod. Alex. translates: τὴν ψυχὴν μου; whereas Cod. Vat. (Eus., Apollin., Theodor., et al.): τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ. Critically it is just as intangible, as it is exegetically incomprehensible; נפשׁי might then be equivalent to שׁמי. Exodus 20:7, an explanation, however, which does not seem possible even from Amos 6:8; Jeremiah 51:14. We let this Kerמ alone to its undisturbed critical rights. But that the poet did actually write thus, is incredible.

In Psalm 24:5 (just as at the close of Psalm 15:1-5), in continued predicates, we are told the character of the man, who is worthy of this privilege, to whom the question in Psalm 24:3 refers. Such an one shall bear away, or acquire (נשׁא, as e.g., Esther 2:17) blessing from Jahve and righteousness from the God of his salvation (Psalm 25:5; Psalm 27:9). Righteousness, i.e., conformity to God and that which is well-pleasing to God, appears here as a gift, and in this sense it is used interchangeably with ישׁע (e.g., Psalm 132:9, Psalm 132:16). It is the righteousness of God after which the righteous, but not the self-righteous, man hungers and thirsts; that moral perfection which is the likeness of God restored to him and at the same time brought about by his own endeavours; it is the being changed, or transfigured, into the image of the Holy One Himself. With Psalm 24:5 the answer to the question of Psalm 24:3 is at an end; Psalm 24:6 adds that those thus qualified, who may accordingly expect to receive God's gifts of salvation, are the true church of Jahve, the Israel of God. דּור (lit., a revolution, Arabic dahr, root דר, to turn, revolve) is used here, as in Psalm 14:5; Psalm 73:15; Psalm 112:2, of a collective whole, whose bond of union is not contemporaneousness, but similarity of disposition; and it is an alliteration with the דּרשׁיו (Chethb דרשו, without the Jod plur.) which follows. מבקשׁי פּניך is a second genitive depending on דּור, as in Psalm 27:8. Here at the close the predication passes into the form of invocation (Thy face). And יעקב is a summarising predicate: in short, these are Jacob, not merely after the flesh, but after the spirit, and thus in truth (Isaiah 44:2, cf. Romans 9:6; Galatians 6:16). By interpolating אלהי, as is done in the lxx and Peshto, and adopted by Ewald, Olshausen, Hupfeld, and Bttcher, the nerve, as it were, of the assertion is cut through. The predicate, which has been expressed in different ways, is concentrated intelligibly enough in the one word יעקב, towards which it all along tends. And here the music becomes forte. The first part of this double Psalm dies away amidst the playing of the instruments of the Levitical priests; for the Ark was brought in בּכל־עז וּבשׁירים, as 2 Samuel 6:5 (cf. 2 Samuel 6:14) is to be read.

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