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Psalm 24

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The King of Glory Enters The King of Glory and His Kingdom A Liturgy On Entering the Sanctuary The Great King For a Solemn Entry Into the Sanctuary
MT Intro
A Psalm of David.
       
24:1-6  24:1-2 24:1-2 24:1-2 24:1-2
  24:3-6 24:3-6 24:3-6 24:3
        24:4
        24:5-6
24:7-10 24:7-10 24:7-10 24:7-8 24:7
        24:8
      24:9-10 24:9
        24:10

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This is a psalm about

1. YHWH as creator (Ps. 24:1-2) and warrior (Ps. 24:8)

2. those who can approach Him to worship Him (Ps. 24:3-6)

 

B. Notice the consistent use of synonymous parallelism

 

C. Notice the vocatives

1. O gates, Ps. 24:7,9

2. O ancient doors, Ps. 24:7,9

3. Jacob, Ps. 24:6 may be "O Jacob"

 

D. Notice the titles and descriptive phrases

1. the God of his salvation, Ps. 24:5 (cf. Ps. 18:46; 25:5; 51:14; 79:9)

2. the King of glory, Ps. 24:7,8,10 (twice)

3. YHWH strong and mighty, Ps. 24:8

4. YHWH mighty in battle, Ps. 24:8

5. YHWH of hosts, Ps. 24:10

Numbers 3,4,5 have a military connotation.

 

E. Notice how those allowed to approach YHWH in worship (cf. Psalm 15) at His tabernacle/temple are characterized.

1. he who has clean hands, cf. Job 17:9; 22:30

2. he who has a pure heart, cf. Ps. 73:1

3. he who has not lifted his soul to falsehood, cf. Ezek. 18:15

4. he who has not sworn deceitfully

5. those who seek Him, cf. Ps. 9:10; 24:4,8; 27:8; 34:4; 69:32

This may have been a liturgical chant by Levites as worshipers came on a set feast day.

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 24:1-6
 1The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains,
 The world, and those who dwell in it.
 2For He has founded it upon the seas
 And established it upon the rivers.
 3Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
 And who may stand in His holy place?
 4He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
 Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
 And has not sworn deceitfully.
 5He shall receive a blessing from the Lord
 And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
 6This is the generation of those who seek Him,
 Who seek Your face—even Jacob.  Selah.

24:1-2 These verses emphasize YHWH as creator (cf. Genesis 1-2; Exod. 9:29; 19:5; Ps. 50:12; 89:11; Psalm 104), both inanimate and animate, both animals and humans (cf. Ps. 146:6; Jer. 27:5; 51:15).

In verse 2 the figurative imagery is of the earth founded as water (cf. Ps. 104:3,5; 136:6). Water (both fresh [i.e., rivers] and salty [i.e. seas]) is not said to have been created in Genesis 1. In ANE mythology water referred to a chaos monster. For more information see

1. notes on Gen. 1:2 in Genesis 1-11 online free at www.freebiblecommentary.org

2. NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 545-549, "Divine Warrior"). In the Bible God controls water (cf. Amos 9:6).

He, not the fertility gods, uses it for His purposes.

1. creation and judgment

2. sustain plant and animal life (i.e., annual rains)

 

24:1 "earth. . .world" The first word (BDB 75) is very common and has a wide semantic field, see Special Topic at Ps. 1:2. The second word (BDB 385) is a poetic synonym used mostly in Psalms and Isaiah.

24:2 "founded. . .established" These two verbs (cf. Pro. 3:19)

1. BDB 413, KB 417, Qal perfect

2. BDB 465, KB 414, Polel imperfect

are in a parallel relationship. They both assert that YHWH, the creator God, firmly founded the dry land on pillars (cf. 1 Sam.2:8; Job 9:6; Ps. 75:3), which reached to the ocean floor and mountain roots (cf. Job 38:4-6; Ps. 18:7,15; Jonah 2:6).

This is not a modern scientific description but pre-scientific poetic imagery! The Bible was not written to answer or inform modern western science. It is an Ancient Near Eastern book, written in phenomenological language (i.e., as things appear to the five human senses).

24:3-6 This may be a separate strophe (see first page of English translation's literary units). It discusses those who seek to worship the God of creation (cf. Ps. 24:6 and Contextual Insights, E).

The place to worship Him is in His tabernacle/temple in Jerusalem (Ps. 24:3). The temple is a symbol of the whole world (cf. Jewish Study Bible, p. 1308, Ps. 24:1-2 and NASB Study Bible, p. 762, Ps. 24:2). A new book that has helped me understand Genesis 1-2 as YHWH building His temple is John Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One. I hope you will look at it. It has the potential to solve, or at least reduce, the conflict over

1. the age of the earth

2. evolution

3. purpose of Genesis 1-2

4. how Genesis relates to other ANE creation accounts

In order to do this, covenant obedience (cf. Psalm 15) is required (cf. Ps. 24:4). The ones who are obedient will receive

1. a blessing from YHWH, Ps. 24:5

2. righteousness (i.e., vindication, cf. Isa. 54:17) from the God of his salvation, Ps. 24:5

Verses 4-6 answer the two questions posed in verse 3. This strophe seems to be ascension liturgy, sung by Levites as worshipers climb to the tabernacle/temple on Mt. Moriah.

24:4 "lift up" This verb (BDB 669, KB 724) is used several times in this Psalm.

1. v. 4 — who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood (Qal perfect)

2. v. 5 — he shall receive (lit. "carry away") blessing (Qal imperfect)

3. vv. 7,9 — lift up your heads, O gates (Qal imperative)

4. vv. 7,9 — be lifted up, O ancient doors (Qal imperative)

5. how Genesis relates or does not relate to modern science

 

▣ "soul" This is the Hebrew term nephesh (BDB 659). See note at Ps. 3:2 and 23:3.

NASB"to falsehood"
NKJV"to an idol"
NRSV, REB"to what is false"
TEV"worship idols"
NJB"vanities"
JPSOA"false oath"

The word (BDB 996) basically means "empty," "vain," or "nothingness." It is used in several senses (see Special Topic below).

SPECIAL TOPIC: EMPTY, VAIN, FALSE, NOTHINGNESS (BDB 996)

If Ps. 24:4 has four characteristics of a true faithful follower, and if the second line is parallel to the third, then they both must refer to true testimony in court, instead of Ps. 24:4b referring to idolatry. The use of "righteousness" in a judicial sense (cf. Ps. 24:5b) gives credence to this. Also note NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 153, where "clean hands" are imagery of a judicial acquittal.

24:6 "seek. . .seek" These translate two different but parallel Hebrew roots.

1. BDB 205, KB 233, Qal participle (MT — singular, Qere — plural), cf. Ps. 78:34

2. BDB 134, KB 152, Piel participle, cf. Deut. 4:29; 1 Chr. 16:11; 2 Chr. 7:14; Ps. 27:8; 105:4; Hos. 3:5; 5:15; Zeph. 1:6; 2:3

 

▣ "—even Jacob" This could be understood in more than one way.

1. the God of Jacob (LXX)

2. seek God as Jacob sought Him

3. another name for the covenant people (like "generations"); Jacob = Israel

 

▣ "Selah" See note at Ps. 3:2 and in Introduction to Psalms, VII.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 24:7-10
 7Lift up your heads, O gates,
 And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
 That the King of glory may come in!
 8Who is the King of glory?
 The Lord strong and mighty,
 The Lord mighty in battle.
 9Lift up your heads, O gates,
 And lift them up, O ancient doors,
 That the King of glory may come in!
 10Who is this King of glory?
 The Lord of hosts,
 He is the King of glory.  Selah.

24:7-10 The gates/ancient doors must refer to the gates of Jerusalem at the temple (Ps. 24:3). They are personified so as to greet the King of glory, YHWH, as He comes to His house/temple after a victory (cf. Exod. 14:14; 15:3; Deut. 1:30; 3:22, i.e., holy war). It is probable that a procession with the ark of the covenant symbolized YHWH's coming back to the temple. Notice all the commands.

1. lift up your heads — BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperative

2. be lifted up — BDB 669, KB 724, Niphal imperative

3. that the King of glory may come in — BDB 97, KB 112, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

4. lift up your head — same as #1

5. be lifted up — same as #2, but Qal imperative

6. same as #3

The UBS Handbook (p. 241) suggests that verse 7 is the liturgical cry of the pilgrims coming to worship. If so, then verses 8 and 10 might be a liturgical Levitical response. I think verses 1-6 comprise a Levitical liturgy spoken by the gatekeepers of the temple.

24:10 There is no verbal in this verse. The "to be" verb is supplied for English readers as it was by ancient Hebrew readers.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. How are Psalm 15 and Psalm 24 related?

2. Define "falsehood" in its OT sense.

3. What does it mean to "seek Your face"?

4. To what event do verses 7-10 seem to be a liturgical mantra?