Lift up your heads, O gates! Be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of Glory may enter!
I. THE LANGUAGE WOULD REPRESENT THE MIND OF MAN AS GOD'S TEMPLE. What views of our nature are suggested by such a representation?
1. The religious destination of man. A temple is built for religious uses and objects. So this is the grand destiny for which man is created - religion. Physical, intellectual, moral destiny.
2. Represents the mind as a sanctuary/or the Divine habitation. The glory of God dwelt between the cherubim; but man is God's grandest Shechinah. This is fully recognized and asserted in the New Testament, "He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you;" "Ye are God's temple."
II. GOD AS A GLORIOUS KING IS EVER SEEKING ADMISSION INTO OUR MINDS.
1. The King of glory assumes the attitude of a majestic suppliant. "Let the King come in." "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock." Illustrates the voluntary nature of our relations with God. Wonderful! Infinity pleading with the finite; majesty supplicating meanness; holiness stooping before the unholy!
2. The purpose for which he seeks to occupy our minds. To draw us into friendship and harmony with himself, and to establish a glorious rule over us. We are incapable of self-rule, and cannot exist alone. And this is our proper and normal relation to him.
III. THE EXERCISE OF MIND BY WHICH GOD IS ADMITTED INTO OUR NATURE. A lifting up of its powers - an elevation and expansion of them - in the following ways.
1. It is the reaching forth of our powers towards the Infinite Being. An effort to embrace our infinite and eternal concerns - a going forth out of the transient and visible into the everlasting and spiritual.
2. The active reception of God enlarges our best powers and affections. It enlarges and exalts love, will, and conscience. - S.
I. THE PRIMARY REFERENCE OF THE TEXT. See the account of the removal of the ark from the house of Obed-Edom to Jerusalem.
Te Deum, "Thou art the King of glory, O Christ." He is the King of glory, the Giver and Owner of life and glory; the Brightness of His Father's glory and the express Image of His Person. That holy Son had on the day of His incarnation emptied Himself of His glory for a while, and had become like unto the meanest of His creatures. On the day of His crucifixion He offered up all His humiliation, for a sacrifice to His Father; on His resurrection day He showed Himself ready to take His glory again; and on this ascension day He actually took it. The King of glory is Christ the Lord of Hosts, and the gates which He commands to be opened to Him are the gates of heaven — the gates of His own chief city, to which He is returning as David returned to Jerusalem, after His triumphant warfare against His and our enemies. He returns, as the Lord mighty in battle, having bruised Satan under His feet, first in His temptation, then in His passion on the Cross, lastly in His descent into hell. And as David came accompanied by his guards and soldiers, who had been fighting on his side, and could not but rejoice, as faithful and dutiful subjects, in their king's victory; so the Psalm represents the Son of David returning to the Father's right hand with a guard of angels; who, as they come near the holy and awful gate, cry aloud and say, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors." But why is the song repeated? Why are the everlasting gates invited to lift up their heads a second time? We may not pretend, here or in any place, to know all the meaning of the Divine Psalms. But what if the repetition of the verse was meant to put us in mind that our Saviour's ascension will be repeated also? He will not indeed die any more; death can no more have any dominion over Him; "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin." Neither, of course, can He rise again any more. But as He will come again at the end of the world, to judge the quick and the dead, so after that descent He will have to ascend again. Now observe the answer made this second time. Christ ascending the first time, to intercede for us at His Father's right hand, is called "the Lord mighty in battle." But Christ, ascending the second time, after the world hath been judged, and the good and bad separated forever, is called "the Lord of Hosts." Why this difference in His Divine titles? We may reverently take it, that it signifies to us the difference between His first and second coming down to earth, His first and second ascension into heaven. As in other respects His first coming was in great humility, so in this, that He came in all appearance alone. The angels were indeed waiting round Him, but not visibly, not in glory. "He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him." He wrestled with death, hell, and Satan alone: alone He went up into heaven. Thus He showed Himself "the Lord mighty in battle," mighty in that single combat. But when He shall come down and go up the second time, He will show Himself "the Lord of Hosts." Instead of coming down alone, in mysterious silence, as in His wonderful incarnation, He will be followed by all the Armies of heaven. "The Lord my God will come, and all His saints with Him." "The Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints." Thus He will come down as the Lord of Hosts, and as the Lord of Hosts He will ascend again to His Father. After the judgment He will pass again through the everlasting doors, with a greater company than before; for He will lead along with Him, into the heavenly habitations, all those who shall have been raised from their graves and found worthy. This is Christ's second and more glorious ascension, in which He will be visibly and openly accompanied by the souls and bodies of the righteous, changed and made glorious, like unto His glorious body. The angels and saints will come with Him from heaven, and both they and all good Christians will return with Him thither.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
II. THE SIMILAR SCENE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. The triumphal procession on palm Sunday. That procession could boast but few circumstances of dignity and majesty.
III. THE SPIRITUAL PASSAGE OF CHRIST BY FAITH INTO THE STRONGHOLD OF THE HEART OF MAN.
1. The heart is susceptible of comparison in many particulars with the literal city of Jerusalem.
2. The remedy is to be found in admission of Christ into the heart. He alone can thoroughly cleanse the desecrated temple.
3. Therefore lay aside your pride and self-righteousness, and become Christ's disciples.
IV. THE SECOND ADVENT IS HASTENING FORWARD. That progress is to be triumphant in character. Its issue must be certain victory.
(E. M. Goulburn, D. C. L.)
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