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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Psalms 24

Verses 1-2

David affirmed Yahweh’s sovereignty over all things. He is over all because He created all. Paul appealed to this verse to support his doctrine that the Christian may eat anything, provided doing so does not cause someone else to stumble (1 Corinthians 10:26).

The pagans viewed their gods as limited to certain regions and functions, but Yahweh is sovereign over all. Psalms 24:2 looks back to the creation of the world. The "rivers" (NASB) or "waters" (NIV) is a synonym for "seas." It probably describes the watery chaos out of which Moses described the world emerging in the Genesis account of creation (Genesis 1:10).

Verses 1-6

1. Ascent to the sanctuary 24:1-6

Verses 1-10

Psalms 24

Only people characterized by righteous deeds and pure thoughts may enter the place where the glorious King of the Universe dwells.

The occasion that inspired the composition of this psalm is unknown. However, in view of its content, many interpreters believe David may have written it when he brought the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). [Note: E.g., Delitzsch, 1:334.] Perhaps he wrote it when he returned from some victory in battle. [Note: Craigie, pp. 213-14.]

During the Exile, the Jews developed the tradition of reading this psalm every Sunday, celebrating the first day of Creation. They also read other psalms on the other days of the week: 48 on Monday, 82 on Tuesday, 94 on Wednesday, 81 on Thursday, 93 on Friday, and 92 on Saturday. [Note: See Roy A. Rosenberg, "Yahweh has become King," Journal of Biblical Literature 85 (1966):297-307.]

Verses 3-4

The psalmist then wondered who could go into the sanctuary of such a great God on Mt. Zion (cf. Psalms 23:6). Who could have the courage to do so? Right actions (clean hands) and right attitudes (a pure heart) are necessary if one hopes to attain admission to His presence. Idolatry and bearing false witness, perhaps representing all sins God-ward and man-ward, disqualify any potential worshipper.

Verses 5-6

God will bless those individuals-who seek God’s fellowship by pursuing the ways of righteousness-by granting their desire.

"Whatever is functioning as it should is ’righteous’: in court, the man in the right; in character, the honest man; in the run of affairs, success. Probably all three are present in this context. This man has the smile of God upon him: he is accepted, he is helped to live an upright life, his affairs under God’s blessing will run as they should [cf. Psalms 23:3 b; Psalms 65:5]." [Note: Kidner, p. 114.]

The "generation" of those who seek Him probably refers to the group who seek God’s face (i.e., seek God). The psalmist referred to the God of Jacob (NIV) here. This reference to Jacob brings to mind Jacob wrestling with the Lord to receive a blessing from Him (Genesis 32:24-32). All who similarly struggle to obtain the Lord’s blessing by pursuing righteousness will receive His favor, as Jacob did.

Verse 7

Evidently David pictured in his mind the closed gates of Jerusalem as though they were heads bowed. He called on these personified gates to lift their heads so the great King could enter. Normally people bowed their heads as majesty passed, but in this figure the gates did the reverse. Lifting up the gates refers to making the gates higher, larger, so such a glorious God could enter.

Verses 7-10

2. Entry of the King 24:7-10

Verse 8

David explained that this glorious King was Yahweh in response to the question of the personified gates, and perhaps the people. The Lord is glorious because He is omnipotent, as seen in His victory over His enemies and His provision of salvation. Israel’s divine King was fully glorious because He was unconquerable. The "hosts" picture the heavenly armies that accompany and support Him.

Verses 9-10

To underline the glory of Yahweh as the great King, David repeated the exhortation and the explanation contained in Psalms 24:7-8 respectively. These verses restate, in synonymous parallelism, the same thought, and all four verses serve as a victory shout. "Long live the King!" "Long live the King!"

God’s people should honor and glorify the Lord because He is the strongest of all Kings. We should realize that communion with such a One requires purity in thought, word, and deed. This will be an appropriate psalm to recite when the Lord Jesus returns to earth to set up His kingdom for 1,000 years. [Note: See Allen, Lord of . . ., pp. 131-45.]

"Psalms 22, 23, , 24 form a trilogy. In Psalms 22 the good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep (John 10:11); in Psalms 23 the great Shepherd, ’brought again from the dead . . . through the blood of the everlasting covenant’ (Hebrews 13:20), tenderly cares for His sheep; in Psalms 24 the chief Shepherd appears as King of glory to reward His sheep (1 Peter 5:4)." [Note: The New Scofield . . ., p. 610.]

"What a wonderful trilogy we have here in these three Psalms. The Psalm of the Cross, 22; the Psalm of the crook, the Shepherd’s crook, 23; the Psalm of the crown, 24." [Note: Ironside, p. 151.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 24". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-24.html. 2012.