Psalm 24 Commentary

Psalm 24 Commentary

Psalm 24 Commentary: Let’s open our Bibles to Psalm 24.

Psalm 24 Commentary

The key to understanding Psalm 24 is to recognize why it was written. David wrote this psalm for a special occasion. Let’s turn our attention to the end of this psalm to discover why Psalm 24 was written.

What is the Background and Context of Psalm 24?

Verse 7 says, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.”

Verse 9 basically repeats verse 7 when it says, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.”

Psalm 24 Commentary
A Question

And then there’s a question as to the identity of this King of Glory that is both asked and answered in verses 8 and 10.

Verse 8 says, “Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.”

Psalm 24 Commentary
The Answer

And then verse 10 ends the psalm by again identifying the King of Glory where David says, “Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.”

So, what’s happening in verses 7 through 10 is this. The gates and doorways of a certain building are, as it were, commanded to pay attention – to “look alive” as they say. And they’re commanded to stand at attention because a very special being is entering into the building of which they’re a part.

This individual is identified as the LORD – Yahweh, God’s covenant name. This is speaking of none other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God of Israel is going to enter into some sort of building.

Psalm 24 Commentary
When Did This Happen?

So, then we ask ourselves when did the Lord ever enter into a building in the Old Testament? In particular, can we find a time when this happened during David’s lifetime?

And the answer to that question is yes, we do know of a time when the Lord entered into a building in David’s lifetime.

And for that incident, let’s keep some sort of bookmark here in Psalm 24 and turn to 1 Chronicles 15.

1 Chronicles 15

Let’s read of this incident of the Lord entering into a building made by David.

KJV 1 Chronicles 15:1 ¶ And David made him houses in the city of David, and prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched for it a tent.

So, there’s David making a building for the Ark.

Skip to verse 3.

3 And David gathered all Israel together to Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the LORD unto his place, which he had prepared for it.

There again is a mention of David preparing a place for the Ark.

Then verses 4 through 10 have the Chronicler stating the number of priests and Levites who helped in this process.

And verses 11 through 13 have David commanding these priests and Levites in how they should bring the ark of the Lord into the place he made for it.

We’ll continue reading in verse 14.

14 So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel. 15 And the children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders with the staves thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the LORD.

16 And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of musick, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy.

Then the Levites obey that command from David in verses 17 through 24 and the singers and musicians are appointed.

And we’ll continue reading in verse 25.

25 ¶ So David, and the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the house of Obededom with joy. 26 And it came to pass, when God helped the Levites that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that they offered seven bullocks and seven rams. 27 And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod of linen. 28 Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps.

And we’ll stop there. And by the way, this story is told also in 2 Samuel 6.

The Lord and the Ark

So, this scene could serve very well as the background behind Psalm 24. The Lord God of Israel – as represented by the Ark of the Covenant – is entering in to a tent with gates and doorways. It is the King of Glory, the Lord of hosts entering into a building with great joy and celebration.

But let’s try to kind of apply this situation in the Old Testament to our lives as New Testament Christians. To do that, we need to consider the Ark of the Covenant for a moment.

What did that box – that’s what an Ark is – what did that represent for Old Testament Israelites?

God’s Presence

It was God’s presence. Several times in the Old Testament the Lord is said to reside “above the Cherubim” on top of the Ark on what was called the Mercy Seat. So, to the Israelite, the Ark of the Covenant was God’s presence with his people.

Bring this forward to the New Testament where now we have God and his glory dwelling – not above a box – but in jars of clay – in you and me. Each of our bodies – if we know Christ – is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1Co 6). But in addition, there’s another entity that the New Testament says is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Not just our individual bodies, but the church itself is a Temple indwelt by the Lord (1Co 3).

So, as we study Psalm 24 and as we see the immediate context of the Ark entering into a building made by David, let’s also keep in mind that the joy and contemplation that David experienced from having God’s presence with him and the rest of God’s people, we can and do experience as well as we Holy-Spirit-possessed individuals meet together in an institution which is also possessed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

So, let’s contemplate together with David God’s Presence in Psalm 24.


And we are contemplating or reflecting in this psalm.

We’re not lamenting. So, we’re not seeing David work through some problem in his life with God’s help.

Neither are we necessarily praising in this psalm. That is, we’re not being called to praise the Lord and then being given numerous reasons to praise him.

Instead, David is meditating on or reflecting upon or contemplatingGod’s Presence.

Psalm 24 1 Meaning

Since we’ve already established that David wrote this psalm on the occasion of the Ark of the Covenant entering Jerusalem to the tent he built for it, we’ll move past the superscription and we’ll come to the first contemplation David has regarding God’s presence.

And that is this – the awesome power of this one whose presence we enjoy.

Read Psalm 24 1 Meaning.

KJV Psalm 24:1 <A Psalm of David.>

The earth is the LORD’S, and [the fulness thereof/all it contains];
the world, and [they that/those who] dwell [therein/in it].

The earthis the Lord’sand the fullness thereof
the worldand they that dwell therein

To the Lord the earth and its fullness, the world and the ones dwelling in it.

Consider your great privilege, brethren. The God whose presence you enjoy created the world. Literally – in the Hebrew word order – to the Lord, the earth and its fullness. The Lord has the sovereign right over the whole earth.

He owns the grass. He owns the trees. It’s his air that you are now breathing without paying him a penny for it. It’s his water that he created that you and I have in such abundance. It pours down on our gardens and into our public reservoirs without the Lord requiring any payment.

And it’s not just that God owns stuff. He owns people. All of them. Every one. Look at that arm of yours. Give it a pinch and realize that God crafted that just for you in your mother’s womb. He owns you. He owns me. He owns Donald Trump the same as he’s owned Barak Obama. Kim Jong Un is in his hands and will some day give account to him.

Individuals are his and so are societies. This is not to say that the Lord is happy with what every individual or society is doing. That’s not an area that David is delving into yet. He’s simply letting our minds run over all the things that belong to the Lord.

So, survey all that is the Lord’s.

And then remember the awesome fact that he dwells in you. Treasure the fact that as we gather together for our worship services today that this one to whom belong all things is the same one who walks amidst his churches. He’s the one who promised to be with us always as we pursue Great Commission work together as the church.

How powerful is this one whose presence we enjoy.

Well, a person might wonder why the earth is the Lord’s. What gives him the right to it? David addresses that in verse 2.

Psalm 24 Commetary
Verse 2

Well, a person might wonder why the earth is the Lord’s. What gives him the right to it? David addresses that in verse 2.

2 For he [hath founded it/set its foundation] upon the seas,
and established it upon the [floods/rivers/ocean currents].

Forhe hath founded itupon the seas
andestablished itupon the floods

Because he upon the seas established it, and upon the rivers established it.

Everything in the world belongs to the Lord because everything in the world was made by the Lord. The very earth, he founded and established.

And the pronoun he is emphasized in the Hebrew. He himself founded and established the earth.

Now, the way this is translated in our version almost makes it sound like the dry ground that we live on is somehow moving upon the seas – as if you could dig down deep enough into the earth and find that the inner part of the earth is water. I don’t think that’s what David is saying.

That word translated “upon” is al in Hebrew. And it often means “higher than.” So, David is just expressing the fact that dry ground is higher than the seas and floods. Why? Because that’s how God established it.

Think about it. A being who is powerful enough to found dry ground higher than the massive waters in the seas. And this is the God whose presence we enjoy.

Psalm 24 Commentary
Verse 3

So, with the awesome power of the Lord in our mind, the Psalmist now turns our attention to the character of the kind of person who is allowed into God’s Presence in verses 3 through 6.

Read Psalm 24 3-5 Meaning.

3 Who [shall/may] ascend [into the hill/the mountain] of the LORD?
or who [shall/may] [stand in/go up to] his holy [place/dwelling place]?

Who shall ascendinto the hill of the Lord?
or who shall standin his holy place?

Who may go up the mountain of the Lord? And who may stand in the holy place (not the same as the area of the Tabernacle which was just qodesh) of him?

So, here David is picturing his ascending with all Israel up to Jerusalem where he would put the Ark of the Covenant into the holy place that he had built to house the representation of God’s presence.

And now his thoughts turn to what kind of person might be allowed into God’s presence. We know this God is powerful from verses 1 and 2. And here in verse 3 it’s hinted at that this God is also holy. The place in which his presence will reside is holy and therefore the people who enjoy his presence must themselves be holy.

Psalm 24 Commentary
Verse 4

And so, in verse 4 David answers his own question and says that those who enjoy God’s presence must be holy like he is holy.

Read Psalm 24 4 Meaning.


4 [He that hath clean hands/The one whose deeds are blameless],
and [a pure heart/whose motives are pure];

He that hathclean hands
anda pure heart

Clean hands and pure heart who does not lift up to emptiness his soul and he does not swear according to deceit.

Hands and heart are the topic under discussion here.

Hands represent actions. You do things with your hands.

The heart represents the inner man and the thoughts and feelings associated with it. You feel and think things with your heart.

So, who is allowed into God’s presence? What is this kind of person like? The things he does and the way he thinks are clean. Not defiled. Not filthy. They don’t leave him feeling dirty. The characteristic actions and thoughts of one who will enjoy God’s presence are clean and pure.

What else is such a person like?

who hath not lifted up his soul [unto vanity/to falsehood] [i.e., doesn’t lie (but, idols?)…],
nor sworn deceitfully [i.e., makes promised but doesn’t intend to keep them…].

whohath not lifted up his soulunto vanity

So, the person who enjoys God’s presence is also one who speaks the truth. Not only are his actions and thoughts right, but his speech is as well.

He doesn’t speak empty words. When he promises something, he does it. He imitates his God in these ways.

Verse 5

And this kind of person is rewarded by the Lord according to verse 5.

Read Psalm 24 5 Meaning.


5 [He shall receive the blessing from/Such godly people are rewarded by] the LORD,
and [righteousness from/vindicated by] the God [of his salvation/who delivers them].

He shall receivethe blessingfrom the Lord
andrighteousnessfrom the God of his salvation

He will lift a blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Perhaps here David is thinking of Obed-Edom. Remember him? He’s the man who had the Ark of the Covenant in his home after the Philistines returned it to Israel. David before this psalm tried to bring the Ark to his place in Jerusalem but you remember that the Lord – it says – broke out against Uzzah because he touched the cart. So, for that whole time God’s presence was blessing the house of Obed-Edom. It’s that kind of blessing that is probably in David’s mind as he writes these words.

But in what sense is David saying God gives righteousness to people who enjoy his presence? He’s not saying that a person is counted righteous by God by having clean hands and a pure heart and honest speech. That happens by faith alone and always has.

Instead, the word righteousness is best understood as blameless behavior or honesty. That’s a way that word tsedeqah is translated in the Old Testament. And I think that’s really interesting. A person who enjoys God’s presence will be characterized by purity in deed, thought, and speech. And do you know who grants this person these qualities of a blameless character? Well, it’s the one in whose presence this person dwells – the God of his salvation is the one who bestows the blessing of a blameless character upon the one who enjoys God’s presence.

And you can think of Paul’s statements in 2 Corinthians 3:18 regarding the fact that Christians are changed into Christ’s image by beholding him. We are having developed in us blameless character – the character of Christ – by enjoying his presence – by looking into his glory. And that’s very similar to what David is saying here in Psalm 24.

Psalm 24 Commentary
Verse 6

And surely a great blessing for David was that there were a number of these people who enjoyed God’s presence in David’s day, as he says in verse 6.

Read Psalm 24 6 Commentary.


6 [This is the generation of them that/Such purity characterizes the people who] seek [him/his favor],
[that seek thy face/who pray to him], [O/even] Jacob [i.e., his descendants…].


This isthe generation of themthat seek him
Jacobthat seek thy face

This is the generation that seeks him, the ones seeking your face Jacob. Selah.

And what that’s saying is that the Israelites who sought God’s face in the time of David were examples of this kind of behavior, thought, and speech. They seek the Lord’s face – his presence. Being descendants of Jacob, David refers to them poetically by the name of their common ancestor.

So, we’ve seen David reviewing the awesome power of the God whose presence we enjoy. That was Psalm 24 1 Meaning and verse 2.

Then we just got through seeing the characteristics of those who enjoy God’s presence in Psalm 24 3-5 Meaning and here in verse 6.

Psalm 24 Commentary
Verse 7

And so, last in verses 7 through 10 we have this climactic identification of the one who is entering through these gates and doors.

Read Psalm 24 7 Meaning

7 [Lift up your heads/Look up], O ye gates;
and be [ye lift/lifted] [i.e., rise…] up, ye [everlasting/ancient] doors;

[and/that] the [King of glory/majestic king] [shall/may/will] [come in/enter].

Lift up your headsO ye gates
And be ye lift upye everlasting doorsand the King of glory shall come in

Lift, gates, your heads. Be lifted, ancient doorways. And he will go in, the king of glory.

So, the gates and doors are summoned to pay attention. No common ordinary person is drawing near. It is the King of Glory coming and entering into the building of which they’re a part.

Psalm 24 Commentary
Verse 8

Then the question is posed in verse 8 as to the identity of this king.

Read Psalm 24 8 Commentary

8 Who is this [King of glory/majestic king]?


The LORD [who is…] strong and mighty,
the LORD [who is…] mighty in battle.

Who is this King of glory?The Lordstrong and mighty
The Lordmighty in battle

Who this the king of the glory? Yahweh powerful and strong. Yahweh strong battle.

So, it’s Yahweh who is entering into the place that David prepared for him.

And he’s strong and mighty. He’s like a warrior. In both accounts of the Ark entering Jerusalem – in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 15 – in the chapters that precede those chapters we see David defeating all of his military enemies. And surely David would have attributed that success to the Lord whose presence he enjoyed. And so, I think that’s why David mentions the Lord’s military might and power here in this song.

Psalm 24 Commentary
Verse 9

Then we see repetition in verses 9 and 10 that mirrors verses 7 and 8. This repetition, no doubt, is to emphasize what’s being said and heighten the excitement surrounding the entering of the Ark into Jerusalem.

Read Psalm 24 9 Meaning

9 [Lift up your heads/Look up], O ye gates;
[even/and] [lift them/rise] up, ye [everlasting/ancient/eternal] doors;

[and/that/then] the [King of glory/majestic king] [shall/may/will] [come in/enter].

Lift upyour headsO ye gates
even lift upye everlasting doorsand the King of glory shall come in

Lift, gates, your heads. And lift, ancient doorways. And he will come in, the king of the glory.

10 Who is this [King of glory/majestic king]?

The LORD [of hosts/who commands armies],
he is the [King of glory/majestic king].



And folks, David had a box that represented God’s presence. And notice how excited he and all Israel were to receive God’s presence in the form of the Ark.

But you and I actually have God’s presence within us. We received the Holy Spirit when we believed in Jesus Christ. And he dwells with us and will be with us forever.

And so, as we continue to fellowship with other God-indwelt believers and worship the Lord in the context of this Temple of the Holy Spirit known as the New Testament church – let’s consider God’s power. Let’s consider our own behavior and thoughts and words – and see if they’re worthy of such a calling. And let’s in our hearts call for even the furniture and architecture in this building, as it were, to welcome God’s Presence among us.


  1. Elvamae Johnson says:

    great teaching; help us some more

    it will help you to build your sermon, whit out having to do much research,very useful to those of us who are begining, and even some of them who have been in ministry for a while..keep up the good job, you are obedient to your calling.


  2. Denise says:

    This has been a great help to my research i found all the right answers n deeper revelation for me to be obedient to the spirit of god.


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