A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
The reply which the Spirit makes to His own question shows clearly whom He had in His mind when He proposed it. He who would ascend indeed must be a man whose life has never had a spot, in whose heart there is nothing to soil his life, and who has kept all his covenant engagements. When we speak of any Christian making a true ascension, we believe he can only make it as he is in Christ Jesus; we believe that none but One ever did, or ever will, or ever can ascend. But then we believe that One ascended, not alone, but as the Head of a whole mystical body; that all of us, as many as believe it, did actually ascend with Him and in Him.
Subject then to this great truth, and involved in it, we proceed to ask, Who are the ascending ones? What is an ascension indeed?
I. Life is the ascension. The actual step on to the throne is only the last of a series of steps which all lead up to it, and of which it is the obvious and necessary climax. The soul of a man is to refine itself, little by little, until at length it is so fine that it cannot stay in this grosser air, but it mounts, as by an obligation which is inherent to it, to its own proper and congenial atmosphere.
II. In these real ascendings we all know that there are some strange paradoxes. The way down is always the way up. Christ's life was one ever-deepening, consecutive abasement, lower and lower still, and so He ascended.
III. If God is love, he is going up the fastest who makes the best progress in love; for the top is love.
IV. One of the most beautiful characteristics of our Lord's ascension was simplicity. Simplicity is a very great height.
V. There will be no ascension if Christ Himself be not growing higher and higher to you, more felt, more precious, more all to your heart. For it is Christ rising in us that makes our rising. Every honour you heap upon Jesus is sending you higher and higher, closer and closer, to the bosom of God.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 6th series, p. 233.
References: Psalm 24:3.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii., No. 396. Psalm 24:3, Psalm 24:4.—H. Thompson, Concionalia: Outlines for Parochial Use, 2nd series, p. 242; J. E. Vaux, Sermon Notes, 3rd series, p. 100.
Psalm 24:3-6I. The men who approach a holy God must be holy. Reason and common-sense proclaim, "Like draws to like." The loftiest form of worship is always imitation. "Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children," is the inmost meaning of all religion; and as imitation is the truest worship, so some spiritual and moral kindred is an absolute necessity for all men that would draw near to their God.
II. The men who are pure receive purity as a gift from God. God will give righteousness. That means here outward and inner purity, or in effect the sum of the qualifications already insisted on. God demands absolute purity, and He gives a perfect righteousness.
III. The men who receive righteousness are the men who seek it from God. "This is the generation of them that seek Him, that seek Thy face," and, as the last words ought to be rendered, "This is Jacob, the true Israel." To desire is to have; to seek is to possess; to wish is to be enriched with all this purity.
A. Maclaren, Christian Commonwealth, December 11th, 1884.
Psalm 24:4Our hands are the instruments by which we accomplish anything and make ourselves useful, and hence to have "clean hands" means to do honest and good things. I shall tell you about several sorts of hands.
I. Dishonest hands. There is every reason why Christians of every rank in life should respond devoutly when the Eighth Commandment is read in church, "Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law."
II. Meddlesome and mischievous hands. The habit which many children and grown people have of touching every curious thing they see is sometimes followed by serious consequences.
III. Cruel hands. You could not begin to count the birds' nests which cruel hands destroy nor the barbarous acts committed by them in a single day. To tease or torture dumb animals, which can do nothing to defend themselves, is always the sign of a coward.
IV. Murderous hands. "Murder will out," is an old proverb, and it generally proves a true one.
V. Beautiful and useful hands. We should often think of one of the directions given us by God Himself: "Wash you; make you clean." It is the Holy Spirit who alone can do this for us. The highest kind of strength is the strength to do right, and this strength must come from God. The more often and the more earnestly that we ask Him for it, the stronger we shall be.
J. N. Norton, The King's Ferry Boat, p. 41.
References: Psalm 24:4.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 187. Psalm 24:6.—Expositor, 3rd series, vol. v., p. 310. Psalm 24:7.—A. Watson, Sermons for Sundays, Festivals, and Fasts, 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 255.
Psalm 24:7-8I. The primary reference of the words of the text is to the bringing up of the ark from the house of Obed-edom into the tent prepared for its reception within the precincts of the city of David.
II. As in the Old Testament we read of the typical ark being borne along in procession unto the city of God's solemnities, the scene of sacrifice and burnt-offering, so in the New Testament are similar things recorded of the true and spiritual ark. David's procession was the solemn inauguration of the ark of God's covenant, amid songs of melody and the smoke of burnt-offerings and peace-offerings. Christ's procession was the inauguration of Himself in the sacrificial work which a few short days after He was to accomplish.
III. These two scenes suggest the spiritual passage of Christ by faith into the stronghold of the heart of man.
E. M. Goulburn, Sermons Preached in the Parish Church of Holywell, p. 353.
Psalm 24:7-10I. Notice the historical and original application of these words to the King who dwelt with Israel. The thought of God in these words is mainly that of a God of strong and victorious energy, a Warrior-God, a conquering King, One whose word is power, who rules amidst the armies of heaven and amidst the inhabitants of earth.
II. These words speak to us not only of the God that dwelt in Zion in outward and symbolical form, by means of a material presence which was an emblem of the true nearness of Israel's God, but yet more distinctly, as I take it, of the Christ that dwells with men. Christ is all, and more than all, that this Psalm proclaimed the Jehovah of the old covenant to be. (1) He is the highest manifestation of the Divine rule and authority. (2) He is the highest raying out of the Divine light, or, as the Epistle to the Hebrews calls it, "the effluence of His glory." (3) He is the mightiest exhibition of the Divine power.
III. Look at the application of these words to the Christ Who will dwell in your hearts. The very central idea of the Gospel is this, that if you will open the gates of your hearts, He will come in, in all the plenitude of His victorious power, and dwell in your hearts, their Conqueror and their King.
A. Maclaren, Christian Commonwealth, December 18th, 1884.
References: Psalm 24:7, Psalm 24:8.—E. M. Goulburn, Sermons in Holywell, p. 353. Psalm 24:7-10.—J. E. Vaux, Sermon Notes, 4th series, p. 50; G. Huntington, Sermons for Holy Seasons, p. 227. Psalm 24:8.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 340. Psalm 24:9.—Ibid., Sermons, vol. xiii., No. 750. Psalm 24:10.—Outline Sermons to Children, p. 58. Psalm 24—A. Maclaren, Life of David, p. 174; I. Williams, The Psalms Interpreted of Christ, p. 429. Psalm 25:5.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 191. Psalm 25:6.—F. E. Paget, Helps and Hindrances to the Christian Life, vol. ii., p. 53. Psalm 25:6, Psalm 25:7.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 243.
For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.