Psalm 24:7-10 - Jehovah's Coming to Jerusalem
Read Psalm 24:7-10
David and the Ark
David was anointed king and reigned over the tribe of Judah for seven years. The house of Saul, though doomed to failure — he was of the tribe of Benjamin — still held on to the rest of the house of Israel. It is true that in due time Israel would be under king David, but he had to wait those seven years. Then, when Ishbosheth had been killed, David became king over the whole people of Israel and reigned in Jerusalem for 33 years.
However, even though David was now king over the whole people of God, there was still something missing. The ark of Jehovah had been captured by the Philistines during the days of Eli, the judge. But, God so plagued the land of the Philistines that they soon found a way of getting rid of the ark and sent it back to Israel. It did not get to the place where it ought to be. It came just over the border of Israel and the Israelites of that area were very happy to see the ark back in their own land. However, they looked into the ark and God punished them for this. The ark was then brought into the home of Abinadab and here it stayed for 20 years! That ark, which denoted the presence of the God of Israel was in a private home for two decades! David realizes that this is not proper. He sends for the ark — but — again they don't do things properly. One who is not a priest, and therefore not qualified to touch the ark, holds it to steady it, and God strikes him dead on the spot! Let them have proper respect for the ark of God! Hurriedly it is brought into a neighboring home, the home of Obed Edom. But God is not a God of wrath who smites everyone who comes near the ark! He blesses the house of Obed Edom. David hears of the blessings (2 Samuel 6:12) and now sends for the ark to be brought to Jerusalem. The symbol of the presence of Jehovah belongs in the city of God, in Jerusalem. There David pitched a "tent of meeting" for the ark and there he hoped to build a temple for it. As the ark approaches Jerusalem, David sings Psalm 24 and teaches the people to sing this Psalm. It is a Psalm which welcomes God into His own city! It is a Psalm which looks much farther into the future and welcomes Jesus Christ into the heavens at the time of His Ascension! It is Messianic! There is indeed a fulfillment in the days of David, but a far richer fulfillment is coming in the time of David's great Son!
A Wide Vision
It should also be noted before we deal with the verses 7-10 that we must not have a restricted idea concerning David's vision of the presence of God. It is easy to assume that David, together with the people of his day, had the idea that God was restricted to that ark! Although an ark, a box, had been chosen by God to symbolize His presence, people would have to be far gone to bow down before a box! David emphasizes in the very first verse of this Psalm that the earth and everything in it, the world and all its inhabitants are Jehovah's.
Who May Go Up
The Psalm also makes it clear that no one may ascend to the hill of Jehovah but he that has clean hands and a pure heart. It certainly has been made clear to David and all Israel that they may not deal with the ark of God as though they are dealing with something common. This error has cost lives. No, he that goes up to the hill of Jehovah, to Zion, must be of clean hands and pure heart. No one who is guilty of falsehood or swears deceitfully has a place there. But, those who may come there shall receive a blessing of Jehovah.
Raising the Gates
As the God of Israel comes into His city the Psalmist calls for the gates to be lifted up. They are not high enough to allow Jehovah to enter. Let also the everlasting doors which guard the city be lifted up. This lifting up is not necessary for the entrance of the ark, but for the entrance of Jehovah! He must not stoop to enter His own city! He is so great that these gates and doors do not allow adequate entrance the way they are normally. Therefore, lift them up!
The Royal Entry
The One who is coming into the city is the King of glory. He is Jehovah of hosts. He is not to be compared to the gods of the other nations and peoples, this God is the greatest! No gate or door is large enough to offer Him entrance. No city is able to contain Him. So David sings and rejoices when the ark of the covenant comes into Jerusalem. This will be Jerusalem's greatest day! David is not the glory of this city! It is David's God, the King of glory, Jehovah of hosts who will give luster to this city! David comes as a conquering hero, but it is Jehovah of hosts who is mighty in battle who has given victory to David over all his foes. Let the people realize that Israel is a Theocracy, where God is the true King. David only reigns by His grace.
Christ's Ascension to Heaven
As was mentioned before, this Psalm sings of the coming of the ark of God into Jerusalem, but it also looks much farther into the future and speaks of the return of Jesus Christ into the heavens, from whence He had come. For some reason the ascension of our Lord is not celebrated like some of the other great days in the history of our redemption. The coming of our Lord in the flesh is celebrated by both church and world. Even His death, and surely His resurrection, are great days for believer and unbeliever. But, the ascension is virtually ignored. Why? This certainly is as important as any of the other links in that chain of events dealing with the salvation of His people. The Old Testament already shows us the proper attitude regarding the ascension in the Messianic Psalms. Not only Psalm 24, but also Psalms 47 and 68 speak of the ascension of the Christ. He indeed goes back to His Father as the conquering hero! He has accomplished all the work the Father had given Him to do. Now He can no longer stay here. It is profitable for His followers that He ascend. If He doesn't, the Spirit will not come. If He doesn't He will not be able to sit at the right hand of God and rule over both church and world. Christ has emphasized the importance of the ascension. His death and resurrection must now be followed by His ascension so that He may again share in the glory which was His before the world began.
The words of Psalm 24 may then be seen as a welcome greeting to the Christ as He ascends into heaven. This has never happened before. But, heaven is also not complete if He is not there. Lift up the gates and the doors and let this conquering King come into His throne-room! Although the men for whom He died and for whom He rose again may not see the importance or significance of the ascension of their Lord, the heavenly host welcomes Him with jubilation! Those who inhabit the heavens realize the significance of this event and they can break out in the song which was written for this purpose centuries before. He comes with clean hands. He comes with pure heart. He has not sworn deceitfully. He is worthy to enter this place. He has been so humiliated in the past. He took on Himself the form of a servant, though He was the Son! He suffered lifelong here on earth. He was maligned. He was crucified. He was killed. He was buried. But, the time of humiliation is past! He rose from the dead! He did not rise to be a spectacle here on this earth where everything is mortal. No, He rose so that He might ascend to where He was before. He is now equipped to ascend. His work here on earth is finished and there is a great deal of work to be done above. He goes to prepare a place for His people. He goes to intercede for His people. He goes to send the Spirit of God upon His people. He goes to rule all things unto their destined end. The ascension is of great importance to His people.
Who is the King?
The question is asked in Psalm 24 who this king of glory is. This question is repeated. The identity of the One who is coming into the holy city must be well established. But, the Psalmist finds no difficulty in identifying the Lord of hosts as the one who may legitimately come into this holy place. So it is also in the final fulfillment of this Psalm. Who is this who demands entrance? It is the King of glory! He is not One who is an imposter! He is the One who is strong and mighty, mighty in battle! He has fought all His battles. He began in the wilderness where He met the opponent face to face and He bound the strong man. From there he goes out and robs his house; he casts the demons out! This Jesus is here identified with Jehovah! "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30). This was spoken of by the Psalmist ages ago! Let, therefore, the gates be opened wide and let the everlasting doors be opened wide so that there may be no hindrance for the entrance of this Savior into the heavens.
Seen in the light of this Psalm, the ascension of our Savior becomes something glorious in which the believer can rejoice. It is too bad that the Old Testament saint must teach the New Testament believer how rich he really is! But, therefore God has given us the whole Bible, both Old and New Testaments, in order that the picture might be complete. When men continually say to us: Where is your God, Where is your Savior? Our reply can be: Our God and Savior is in the heavens and from there rules all things!
The Ruling Lord
The ascension of Jesus Christ was one of the greatest deeds ever accomplished in the history of our redemption. This act of His gives the proper interpretation to all His previous works and also gives the assurance concerning those things which are still to come. We also shall ascend! He will rule over all things unto the coming of His glorious Kingdom. He will come again to judge the living and the dead at the end of the ages. He has all things under His divine control. Christ is in the heavens and all is well with His people!
Only when the proper recognition is given to the ascension as well as to all the other mighty acts of Christ will we have a complete gospel. Those who do not give sufficient weight to this event are coming up with a gospel which is not complete. Such a gospel ends in Joseph's garden. Such a gospel ends with confused disciples. Such a "gospel" really is no gospel. But, rejoice, O child of God; Jesus is in the heavens and sits at the right hand of God!
Questions for Discussion:
- Israel was not to make any images of God in order to worship them. Yet, God was visibly represented by the ark. Is there significance in the fact that this was a box which contained several things?
- Why did the presence of the ark in various places in Israel have such a strange history? Was it not cruel that Uzzah died when he meant so well?
- Why can it be said that Saul's kingship was doomed to failure from the beginning?
- Why is the ascension the least of all the feast days in the church?
- Is there a possibility of restoring ascension day to its rightful place on the church calendar? How can it be done? Most denominations do not even have a service on that day. Will we keep it much longer if we have combined services of several congregations?