A Psalm of David

Another psalm by the great shepherd-king of Israel.  This psalm was perhaps written for the occasion of the procession of the Ark of the Covenant to its new resting place on Mount Zion.  If so, it would have been appropriate for the procession’s ascent of the hill of Mount Zion itself.  Yet it also speaks prophetically of the future Kingdom of God and the “hill of the LORD” speaks figuratively of His future government (“hill” standing for “government” in figurative language.)

1.  The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness,

What a true statement this is!  This planet that we live on belongs to the LORD.  He created it “in the beginning” (Genesis 1:1,) and thus it belongs to Him.  Not only the planet, but also all that fills it is His.  He is the owner of all that exists on earth.

The world and those who dwell therein.

The world is not the same thing as the earth.  The world is something that exists on the surface of the earth.  In this case the Hebrew word is tebel, and indicates the inhabited world of men.  Anywhere on earth where men dwell and live out their lives is a part of the world, and this world belongs to the LORD.

2.  For He has founded it upon the seas,

This speaks of the landmasses themselves when they were created.  There is still water far down under the earth, but much of it came to the surface at the time of Noah’s flood.  (See Genesis 7:11 “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up.”)  When the LORD first created the landmasses they were founded on top of water.  It is in losing this fact and that of the great Flood of Noah’s day that many scientists today go astray in attributing to “millions of years” that which was wrought in a very short amount of time by the loosing of the seas from under the earth.

And established it upon the waters.

The world of men was first established upon continents that floated on the waters.  Now these waters have come to the surface and fill the great ocean chasms.  Yet this is not how the LORD originally created it.

3.  Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?

This is practically the same question as that which was asked in Psalm 15.  Although it was literally appropriate for the ascension of the Ark of the Covenant to the hill of Zion, in its fullness it speaks of the great future “hill” of the LORD, God’s government.  It asks who will be thought worthy to be a part of the ruling body when His government takes control of the earth at last.

Or who may stand in His holy place?

The holy place being the tabernacle or temple where the Ark was then being taken.  “Stand” here indicates not just entering and standing there for a time, but rather dwelling there for an extended period.  David himself may do this, as we read in Ezekiel 45:7.  But who else will get to dwell there, and what is the character of people who will be chosen for that great privilege?

4.  He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

The one who ascends into His hill and stands in His holy place must have hands clean from working evil deeds and a heart pure from all corruption.  Is there any who could claim to be like this today?  Certainly David himself did not always have clean hands or a pure heart!  We know that the only way any of the race of Adam could ever be a part of God’s holy government is if He removed the stain of Adam’s sin from us.  Only then could any of us be worthy of a place in His great Kingdom.

Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,

The word for “idol” means “vanity” or “emptiness,” which is a common figure of speech used to denote an idol, for idols are empty, worthless things and not gods.  This is not a requirement for the future, as clean hands and a pure heart are, but a requirement that must have been met in this life.  No one who has turned his back on God and worshipped worthless idols will have a place in His great government of the future.

Nor sworn deceitfully.

The LORD wants those who can keep their word, as we learned in Psalm 15.  Yet worse than changing your mind later about something you swore to do would be swearing deceitfully in the first place, never intending to fulfill your word.  Someone who would do such a thing is not someone God would want as part of His government or dwelling in His holy place.

5.  He shall receive blessing from the LORD,

Ascending the hill of the LORD and standing in His holy place are great blessings to receive indeed!  Who could ask for greater favor?

And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

This speaks of imputed righteousness.  We know that none are righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10.)  Yet through faith God credits righteousness to us.  This crediting of righteousness is what accompanies and completes our salvation.  This receiving of righteousness from God is the only thing that will make any of us worthy of having a place in God’s great future.

6.  This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,

The word translated “generation” means “class” or “circle.”  It spoke in the past of the Kohathites who were purified to carry up the Ark to Zion.  Yet in our future application it refers to that class which shall be counted worthy of ascending His hill and standing in His temple.

Who seek Your face.

Not just His face, but the approval that would appear on it.  They desire the praise of the LORD more than the praise of men.


Connecting the first part of the Psalm, which spoke of the people who are worthy to ascend the hill of the LORD, with the second part, which speaks of the entrance of the LORD Himself.  This would have been the climax of the song as the Ark reached the top of the hill and the tabernacle.  In a future sense, it refers to the coming of the King, Jesus Christ, to dwell in His temple and among His people for a thousand years.

7.  Lift up your heads, O you gates!

The city gate was the place where business was transacted in that day.  Thus, it was where judges and politicians would ply their trade.  These rulers are the ones referred to here as “gates,” which speaks figuratively of those who govern from them.  These rulers are to lift up their heads and behold as the glorious King enters the city.

And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!

This speaks of the doors of the city, which were ever opening and closing.  “Everlasting” would be better translated “ever-flowing” with the idea both of the doors ever being opened and closed and of people ever flowing through them.  Now these doors are to stand open in welcome as the great King passes through them.

And the King of glory shall come in.

In the past in the form of His Ark, and in the future as Jesus Christ Himself coming to reign over His people for a thousand years.  How much more glorious will the celebration be then!

8.  Who is this King of glory?

This may be the words of the puzzled rulers in the gates.  This may also refer Matthew 21:10, where we read at Christ’s triumphal entry, “And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, ‘Who is this?’”  They did not know Who this glorious King was Who had come to them.

The LORD strong and mighty,

At His first coming and the entry then He did not show forth His strength and His might.  That waits for His future entrance at His second coming and second, far-more-triumphal entry into Jerusalem, His city.

The LORD mighty in battle.

He will have just personally defeated the anti-Christ and the dragon himself who gave him his power.  Thus He will have proved indeed His might in battle!

9.  Lift up your heads, O you gates!

Now that they know Who this is Who is coming through the gates, those rulers who do business there are again urged to lift up their heads, this time in knowledge and praise.  These verses are repeated for the greatest emphasis.

And lift them up, you everlasting doors!

Again the doors that constantly flow with people are to stand wide and clear in welcome as the King Himself passes through them.

And the King of glory shall come in.

“The King of glory” is a figure of speech meaning “the glorious King.”  Again our attention is drawn to Him passing through the gates at last to take His promised place among His people.

10.  Who is this King of glory?

This time this is asked not in puzzlement, but in settled assurance of the wonderful truth.

The LORD of hosts,

This is Yahweh Sabaioth, the LORD of hosts.  It is He Himself Who is entering the hill of Zion to bless God’s people from there forever.  What a great time of praise this will be!

He is the King of glory.

This answers for all time the question of Who the Messiah is.  He is not a man like us, but rather He is Yahweh Himself.  And surely there is no other King as glorious as He!  He is indeed the King of glory.


This word connects this psalm with psalm 25.  Psalm 24 sets forth the entrance of the LORD into His holy hill, whereas psalm 25 gives us the results of it, as the LORD works from there to give direction and true judgment to His people.