This psalm, it is thought, was written to commemorate the return of the sacred ark of God to Jerusalem. For seven months the Philistines had kept it under lock and key until finally, deciding it was too hot to hold, they returned it to Israel. It had resided at Kirjath-jearim on the western border of Benjamin in the rugged wooded highlands during the days of Samuel and Saul.
David himself had made one disastrous attempt to bring it to Jerusalem after he had wrested the fortress of Zion from the Jebusites. But now the time had come and the ark began its journey home. The historian tells us of the music and dancing, of the shouting and sacrifices which marked the triumphal entry of the ark into Jerusalem. Psalm 24 gives us the anthem which heralded the ark along the way.
When the temple came to be built in Jerusalem various psalms were sung as part of the daily liturgy. On Monday it was Psalm 48, Tuesday Psalm 82, Wednesday Psalm 94, Thursday Psalm 81, Friday Psalm 93, and on the Sabbath Psalm 92. On the first day of the week they sang Psalm 24. The very day that Jesus tore away the bars of death and marched in triumph from the tomb the temple choir was scheduled to sing this victorious psalm.
Jim Boice, in his commentary on Psalms, notes that he is not entirely happy with the explanation of David composing this psalm for the entry of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. He writes, ‘At least I am not willing to stop with [this explanation].’ He continues,
“The reason is that, however important and moving the transport of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem by David may have been, it is not nearly as significant as the single occasion on which, much later, the true ‘King of glory’ actually did enter the holy city. I am referring, of course, to the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the day we call Palm Sunday.”
As we noted earlier, and Boice concurs, the ancient rabbinical sources tell us that, in the Jewish liturgy, Psalm 24 was always used in worship on the first day of the week. The first day of the week is our Sunday. So, putting these facts together, Boice declares, ‘We may assume that these were the words being recited by the temple priests at the very time the Lord Jesus Christ mounted a donkey and ascended the rocky approach to Jerusalem.’ Thus, the people who were outside the walls, who were approaching Jerusalem with him, exclaimed:
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest! (Matt. 21:9),
‘Inside the priests were intoning:
Lift up your heads, O you gates;
Lift them up, you ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The LORD Almighty –
He is the King of glory. Selah (Ps. 24:9-10).’
Boice then writes, ‘But the priests were not joining in the cries of acclamation for Jesus, and within days they would conspire to have him executed as a blasphemer.’
This Lord’s Day we will consider Psalm 24. This psalm describes two entries. The first entry (vv3-6) is about God’s people coming to God’s city. It asks the question: Who is able to come? The second part (vv7-10) describes the coming of God to his people.
I hope you can join us, and even bring a friend or two, as we learn who can come before the Lord, and even how this is possible. Moreover, can you stand before him when he comes?
For His Glory,