What does Psalm 24:1 mean?
ESV: A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,
NIV: Of David. A psalm. The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
NASB: The earth is the Lord’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who live in it.
CSB: The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord;
NLT: The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.
KJV: {A Psalm of David.} The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
NKJV: {A Psalm of David.} The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.
Verse Commentary:
This psalm is credited to David. It is possible, even likely, that this was composed to celebrate the return of the ark of the covenant from Obed-edom's house (2 Samuel 6). This is not certain, however.

Abraham referred to the Lord as "Possessor of heaven and earth" (Genesis 14:22). In Psalm 24:1 David affirms the truth that the Lord owns all creation. He states that the earth and everything pertaining to it, including human beings, belongs to the Lord. Although God placed a curse on the earth following our first parents' sin, the Lord possesses the earth and everything in and on it, and when Jesus returns to earth, he will roll back the curse and restore earth to Edenic conditions (see Genesis 3; Isaiah 11:1–16; Romans 8:19–21).

David also acknowledges that God owns all human beings. The term translated "fullness" here is meant as a reference to all people. Genesis 1:26–27 reports that God created humanity, as males and females, in His own image. First John 2:2 declares that Jesus Christ died for the sins of all mankind. Therefore, the Lord has a rightful claim to our lives by virtue of creation and redemption.
Verse Context:
Psalm 24:1–6 affirms what is declared in John 1:1–3 and Genesis 1—2: that God created everything. The people at worship or a chorus sang the first two verses, and a leader asked the question in verse 3. Psalm 15 echoes the truth taught in Psalm 24:4–6, and Matthew 5:6–8 reinforces the fact that only the righteous can see God. Tradition says this psalm celebrates David bringing the ark of the covenant back from Obed-edom's house (2 Samuel 6).
Chapter Summary:
Tradition suggests this psalm celebrates the return of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. David declares God's role as Creator and Sovereign. He points out the need for worshippers of God to be sincere, truthful, and righteous. The psalm then calls out to the city of Jerusalem to welcome the "King of glory."
Chapter Context:
Psalm 24 follows logically after Psalms 22 and 23. Psalm 22 depicts the Good Shepherd's suffering on the cross. Psalm 23 depicts the depths of His care of his sheep. Psalm 24 depicts his return to rule as king. The cross is seen in Psalm 22. The shepherd's crook is seen in Psalm 23. The shepherd's crown is in view in Psalm 24. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, died for us (Psalm 22), cares for us (Psalm 23), and is coming for us (Psalm 24). Psalm 15 is a parallel to this passage.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.