What does Psalms 24 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
In this psalm King David extols God as the eternal King, the Lord of hosts. This psalm has traditionally been associated with David's relocation of the ark of the covenant, from the house of Obed-edom to Mount Zion (2 Samuel 6). A procession would have accompanied the ark with singing and music (1 Chronicles 15:2–28). Likely, the psalm was composed for a choir. The people at worship or a chorus would sing the first two verses, and a leader asked the questions starting in verse 3.

David writes that the Lord owns the earth and everything in the earth and on it, including human beings. The "fullness" of earth is a reference to all of humanity. As the one who created the world and established its form, God is rightfully considered the Master of everyone and everything (Psalm 24:1–2).

Only the righteous can properly worship the Lord in His house. This involves having pure motives, a truthful approach, and hands which are not stained with evil. David writes that those who lead a righteous life will receive blessing from God (Psalm 24:3–6).

Calling out to the entire city of Jerusalem, David cries out for the city gates to swing open so the King of glory can enter Jerusalem. In Hebrew the exact same phrasing used in verse 7 is repeated in verse 9, emphasizing the poetry and importance of that moment. This psalm describes God as strong and mighty, mighty in battle and the Lord of hosts (Psalm 24:7–10).
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).
Psalm 24:7–10 calls upon Jerusalem to welcome the Messiah. The original audience of the psalm likely heard these words while being encouraged to welcome the ark's return to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). Matthew 21:1–11 offers a preview of Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem at His second coming (Revelation 19:11–16). At that time Jesus, the King of glory, will be king over all the earth (Zechariah 14:9).
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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