Psalm 24:1


There seems to be no very great difficulty in finding the occasion on which this magnificent psalm was originally composed. In all probability it was written by David, and sung on the occasion of bringing up the ark of God to Mount Zion (2 Samuel 6:2, 18; 2 Samuel 17:25, 26). Some regard it as prophetic, and call it "the Song of Advent," others "the Song of the Ascension." Others again apply it individually, and look upon it as appropriate for one who would open his heart to God, and let the King of glory enter therein. There are, however, so many Scriptures bearing more manifestly on these three latter applications, and there is such a fulness of instruction in dealing with the truths which are immediately suggested by the song as prepared for the historic occasion above referred to, that we shall simply invite the reader to follow the course of thought suggested thereby. All the historic information needed may be gathered from the writers referred to below; especially from the brilliant and inspiring description of Dean Stanley. The psalm discloses to us the grand revelation of God which the Hebrews possessed, and the joy which they felt at his making his dwelling-place among them. From the Hebrew standpoint we are bound to move forward to that of the Christian. Remembering this, let us note -

I. THE NAME AND DOMAIN OF JEHOVAH ARE IMMEASURABLY VAST; while the greatness of his attributes, as disclosed to his people of the olden time, is correspondingly august. The various names given to him in this psalm show us how far removed were the Hebrews' thoughts of God from those to which other nations of the earth had attained. The various expressions for the Name of God which are found here remove us very far from anything like anthropomorphism.

1. Jehovah; pure being - he who is, was, and will ever be.

2. The God of salvation.

3. The God of Jacob (LXX.), who can note the individual while watching over all.

4. The King of glory in whom the highest glory centres, and from whom all created glory proceeds, of every kind.

5. The Lord of the whole earth. The wide difference in this respect between the thoughts of the heathen and those of Israel is seen in 1 Kings 20:23; Daniel 2:11. The idea of local and tutelary deities is common enough among pagan nations. But that of one God supreme and alone is taught by revelation (Deuteronomy 6:4).

6. The Lord of hosts; Lord of all the hosts of heaven, whether the hosts of stars that roll at his command, or the hosts of seraphim and cherubim who wait upon his word. All these names of God are now a joy to the believer. He sees more in each of them than the saints of old could possibly do; and seeing God as revealed in Christ, he can add yet other names, and say:

7. "God is Spirit;" "God is light;" "God is love," adding to the latter the touching words, "He loved me, and gave himself for me." Thus while the universe is no tax on his power, the humblest child may nestle in his love.

"His greatness makes us brave as children are
When those they love are near."

II. NEVERTHELESS, THERE ARE SOME SPOTS WHERE HIS PRESENCE IS SPECIALLY SEEN. "The hill of the Lord" (ver. 3); "His holy place" (ver. 3). A careful student of the Scriptures may find matter of absorbing interest in two disclosed facts:

(1) that the great aim of God's revelation is to bring about the dwelling of man with God, and of God with man (cf. Exodus 25:8);

(2) that this is one of the thoughts of God unfolded in its different stages in the Scriptures.

1. There was the patriarchal period, when each holy man might commune with God, or erect his altar or his Bethel anywhere.

2. There was the Mosaic and prophetic period, during which there was one place that the Lord chose to put his Name there.

3. There is the present Christian period, of which it is said

(1) in prophecy (Malachi 1:11);

(2) in promise (Matthew 18:20), that wherever God's people meet in his name, he will be with them.

4. There will be the heavenly state (Revelation 21:3, 22, 23). We have not yet come to the rest and inheritance which the Lord hath promised to give us. The fourth stage is yet ahead. The second is past. The third is ours. To the believer, any room where but two or three meet in their Saviour's name may be as really a house of worship as the proudest cathedral. Such worship-rooms were common in the early Christian age. The worship itself consecrates the place. And the presence of God is in it, because it is with those who worship there. No Church has any monopoly of this Real -Presence. To all believers the Living One has said, "Go! teach, baptize, and lo! I am with you all the days, to the end of the age!"

III. THE LIVING PRESENCE OF GOD, WHEREVER REALIZED, SHEDS A RADIANCY OF GLORY. The ark was to the Hebrews the symbol, sign, and token of the Divine presence, and when it was conveyed to the Hill of Zion, that hill at once attained a proud preeminence, before which hills of far greater height became quite insignificant. Hence Psalm 68:16. And whether in earlier or later days, in tabernacle or temple, God's "way" was "in the sanctuary." Note: The tokens of God's presence, and these alone, will light up any place of worship with glory. That presence is realized:

1. In the blest fellowship the saints have in their worship, with all the redeemed on earth and in heaven, as well as with the Lord.

2. In the concert of prayer, as they plead for each other and for all men.

3. In the messages of love that come to them from their Father's Word.

4. In partaking of the tokens of love which are given in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

5. And in the reception of new blessing and power for life's service through the energy of the Holy Ghost, who in his blest fellowship quickens and inspires. Surely, any place where all these boons are enjoyed is indeed radiant with light and blessing!

IV. ALTHOUGH THIS PRESENCE MAY FILL THE HOUSE OF WORSHIP, NOT ALL THEREIN WILL BE EQUALLY CONSCIOUS OF IT. Surely this must be the deep meaning of vers. 3-6. The question in ver. 3 is unintelligible. As a matter of fact, any one could ascend the hill of the Lord, and even take up his abode in the sacred precincts. But physical proximity to the ark of God, and spiritual nearness to the God of the ark, are two very different things. It is easy to be where God is blessing his people; it is another thing to be one of those who get the blessing. Moral and spiritual receptivity is needful if we would enjoy the fulness of that blessing. Mechanism is not inspiration. Posture is not devotion. The Real Presence cannot be had through the bread and wine of the sacrament. It will not come to any through a line of officiating priests. While no one may limit the extent of the blessing so as to shut out any true worshipper, on the other hand, not even the holiest place will ensure the blessing to any except the worshipper is true. "He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; he shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation."

V. BY SUCH AS WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH THE SACRED GATES MAY BE OPENED WITH JOYOUS ACCLAIM, TO RECEIVE THE KING OF GLORY. (Vers. 7-10.) Yea, "the King of glory shall come in." He will. There is no doubt of it. The gates will not be opened in vain. The joyous host of devout souls wending their way thither will not be doomed to disappointment (Psalm 26:8; Psalm 27:4-6; Psalm 42:4; Psalm 43:3, 4; Psalm 48:9; Psalm 66:13-19; Psalm 73:16, 17; Psalm 77:13; Psalm 84; Psalm 87; Psalm 116:14-19; Psalm 118:19-27; Psalm 132:13-16). They may take up the grand choral song of this psalm, and make it their own. That they and God thus may meet is the only reason why these houses of worship are erected. That they do thus meet, the experience of the saints declares. That they will thus meet, the promises of God's Word ensure. Note: The dignity of God's worshippers. Not only do they go to speak to the King, but the King of heaven comes to meet them! - C.







The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof.
So the Psalmist in this place speaks of the Divine sovereignty and of the Divine purpose and programme. The Divine sovereignty — the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. God stretches out His sceptre over all places, all peoples, all events. However you parcel the earth out, He is the great Landlord and the Sovereign Ruler doing according to His will amongst the inhabitants of the earth. And the Psalmist tells us in this place on what this rests. God created it, and He sustains it. What a great deal you see in the world that your ancestors did not see, and what a great deal your children will see in it that you do not see! It is a mysterious world, with the fulness thereof. How there is wrapped up in the world unknown possibilities to be manifested in due season. When God created the world He did not leave it; He lives in the midst of the splendour He first created. He is evermore active in all the things of nature and of history. You build a palace, and it comes to ruin, but the earth never comes to ruin. You never have to put an iron band round the firmament to hold up the dome as they have put an iron band upon the dome of St. Peter's at Rome. Now, the Psalmist here tells how God seeks to accomplish His great purpose in the world that He created, the world that He maintains, the world that He redeemed. He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. What is that? That God, who is the Sovereign of this world, has a great purpose in its government, and He seeks to accomplish that purpose through endless mutability and conflict. Now, you see the very same thing when you look into nature. God has made this world in exactly the same way, and the tangible world, the planet itself, how has it come to pass? He called forth His Spirit, and His Spirit moved on the face of the waters. Movement, you see. So it was in that strange old world, out of movement, mutability, catastrophe, out of these seas and floods, that this lovely earth arose, as the Greeks fabled that Venus arose out of the foam of the sea. Why, you know the history of your planet now pretty well. You know, your fathers, when they wanted to explain the configuration of this planet, always used to talk about the flood and the deluge. Oh! the deluge explained a lot. But you know a great deal better. You have studied geology since then. Nowadays you do not talk about Noah's deluge having made the planet what it is. You push it a great deal further back than that. For all that went on in these revolutions have left their signs on the rocks. What terrific floods, what mighty deluges, what burnings, what ages of frost and glaciers, and through all that God never lost sight of His final purpose to make this planet into what you see it today — music, colour, fragrance — a great and delightful theatre of intellectual and spiritual life. He hath founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods, and out of movement, unsettlement, change, it arose, the lovely planet that you see it today. And mind, it is always going on just the same today. One would think some. times, to look at the earth, that it was asleep. But make no mistake about that. The one thing nature never will stand is immovability. She won't tolerate stagnation. They say that sometimes in the Pacific they have periods of absolute calm, and in a few days the very sea begins to rot, and the stench is insufferable. Nature won't stand it, she is full of unsettlement, full of movement, full of catastrophe. That is the way you keep the ocean pure, the atmosphere sweet, and the earth full of vitality. Now, I want to say to you that that is all just as true in the history of ourselves. If you will look down the history you will find that God has ever been active in the midst of the nations, always overturning that He may introduce a civilisation that is a shade better than the civilisation that preceded it. You never can make a nation fixed and permanent. The world from the beginning amongst the nations has been in a state of unrestfulness and changefulness. But I believe there never has been a change in this world but it has been for the better. Mind you, it often seems to a careless eye as if the world were going back, but whenever the critical period comes the best is always on the top. You go back in history to the great conflict, say, between the Greeks and Orientals, when there seemed a time that the Oriental world was likely to swamp Europe, when it was likely to destroy the civilisation of Greece, which was the promise of all future civilisations. But when the critical battle came the Greek was master of the situation. It was just the same again when you come to the great conflicts between the Romans and the Phoenicians. As you know perfectly well, there seemed a day when the Phoenician, with his dark superstitions, his terrible practices, was going to triumph; but when the ultimate time came, when the final battle was fought, the Roman was at the top, with his wiser, healthier, and nobler conceptions, ideals, and strivings. It was just the same again a little later when Mohammedanism came into contact with Europe, and the Moor was at the very gate of Vienna. It seemed as if the inferior civilisation was going to swamp the nobler, but God, who sat upon the face of the waters, said, "Hitherto and no further," and Mohammedanism was turned back, and it has been going back ever since. It has stopped a bit at Constantinople, but it will have to go. God has not made this world to go backwards. He has made it on the principle of a sure but ofttimes obscure development. Mind, I confess it looks as if it were not so. It seems sometimes as if we made a great deal of movement for positive retrogression. It looks so until we think about it. The world keeps going to pieces continually, and you never get anything fixed. But I am not going to lose sight of the fact that in the midst of instabilities and revolutions God is always quietly present. Always His end is to make men and nations pure and perfect. He has done it in the past; He will do it still. Why, you know well enough, in the fifth century — was it in the fifth or sixth? — a few fishermen laid the foundations of Venice in the slime of the lagoons. These men, with a few sticks and stones, began the creation, and as time went on there grew out of this slender and rude beginning the city of solemn temples, gorgeous palaces, the city of great painters, sculptors, and poets. And they built it out of the seas and established it upon the floods — the ideal city, the city dear to all lovers of the perfect. A few fishermen, in the first century, under the direction of the Master Builder, laid the foundations of a new world in the modern rottenness of the old civilisations, and now for 1900 years another building has been going on, the Church of Christ, the City of God, the Spiritual Venice. And mind, there is not a single movement in this world but aids it. There is no revolution but puts another bit of marble into it. He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods, and I can stand sad see the whole world going to pieces with the utmost tranquillity, because I know that the destructive is also the constructive, and God never destroys unless He is going to build in its place something that is larger and more rational and more perfect. And all this is true of the individual life. Prepare yourselves for it. Just look at your lives. They have been one course of unsettlement, and it will be so until that man in white comes and reads over you that we never continue in one state. That is the way with us here. People imagine sometimes that they have got things pretty fairly square, that they have got things on a good basis, and that they are going to have a nice, tranquil time of it. Not a bit of it. He has built it upon the seas and founded it upon the floods. He will turn it over directly. You may be sure of that. When people marry and settle down, you sometimes hear people say, "Oh! they are, married and settled now." You fancy you have got things into shape. You don't know where the next change is to come from. But it will come. There is no settlement; but mind this, every time God unsettles you it is for a great moral end. There ought to be no change in your life which does not leave you stronger and purer. So look up, the world is not purposeless: no man's life is a chaos. With endless variation, contrast, conflict, and catastrophe God is with us, and He will bring it out well at last, because when I get to the last page of the Book I read, "And there shall be no more sea."

(W. L. Watkinson.)

I. HIS PROPERTY.

1. Its extent. The earth and its fulness (ver. 1).

2. Its foundation — creatorship. "He hath founded it," etc. (ver. 2).

II. MAN'S MORAL OBLIGATION.

1. It urges him to be just. "Will a man rob God?"

2. To be humble.

3. To be thankful. It is God that has given us ourselves, with all our capacities and means of improvement and of pleasure.

4. To be acquiescent. God has a right to do what He likes with His own.Let the text be written on our hearts. It is engraved on the front of the Royal Exchange, but how few pause to read it, and fewer still ponder it in their hearts.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

There was a time when every separate department of nature was supposed to have a separate deity ruling over it. Every nation, every district, every sphere of life, every profession, every trade had a god of its own. There was a time when each race and tribe acknowledged no god but one. Then there comes the conviction that the Power which all are in some form seeking after is one and the same everywhere. We never can pass from His dominions.

I. THE DIVINE PRESENCE IN THE WORLD. It is His power and His presence which we behold around us. He hath created and preserveth all. The universe is itself a manifestation of Him; it is His garment, it is illuminated and aglow with the Divine presence. As with the earth, so with its fulness. Its products are irradiated With a heavenly glory. They, too, come from Him who is wise in counsel and excellent in working. The earth is given to the sons of men, that it may be subdued and cultivated, that its boundless treasures may be sought out and developed. There is no doubt a wrong way as well as a right way of availing ourselves of them.

II. ALL THINGS GOD'S GOOD GIFTS. If this can be said of meats and drinks, how much more may it be said of the manifold gifts with which the earth is ripe; the means placed at our disposal for the amelioration of human suffering, the lessening of toil, the advancement of knowledge, the increase of well-being in every shape and form. There was recently brought to light in Cornwall an old picture of our blessed Lord, in which His precious blood is represented as flowing over the various implements of industry — the reaping hook, the scythe, the shuttle, the cart — implying that by His incarnation all human labour has been sanctified, that everything wherewith we carry on the work of the home, or of the world, is cleansed and consecrated through the life and death of Christ; that in Him all things are gathered together in one, and are made meet to be laid upon the altar of God.

(P. M'Adam Muir, D. D.)

There is a strong tendency in the present day to forget the immanence of God in creation. We do well to emphasise the constant dependence of the universe upon the preserving power of God. The Psalmist was wiser than the wisest atheistical philosopher when he declared that the earth is the Lord s, for He hath founded it. The more we learn of the Creator and His works the more must we realise His infinite wisdom and almighty power. They tell us that the propositions of the evolutionist, if true, obviate all necessity for a personal Creator. But there must have been a great creative plan or this universe could not have come into being, and behind that plan there must have been an Omniscient Personal Intelligence. To what extent have men realised, and do men realise today, the conception of the text? How far have they grasped the thought that the earth is the Lord's and they are His stewards? The Jew was vividly reminded of the truth by that strange institution, the "Year of Jubilee." It served to remind the whole nation that "Jehovah was the Supreme Landlord under whom their tenure was held." The Psalmist goes a step further when he declares not only that the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof, but also "the world and they that dwell therein." Not merely because we are created beings do we belong to God. We have realised an immeasurably higher claim upon our service. It is created by His "inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ," — in a word, by the mercies of Calvary. How many of you thus recognise God's claim upon you in this definite manner?

(Henry S. Lunn, M. D.)

The best of God's gifts are often those which are least valued. It is the same with truths as it is with things. Whenever a truth becomes very common, whenever, that is to say, it is put by Divine Providence into the minds of all, we begin to neglect it, and to forget that God should be praised for it. To one of these old and familiar, yet preeminently useful, truths attention is now directed. From the earliest dawn of our reason we were taught that God made us, that a Wise and Holy Being who loves us was our Creator and the Author of all that exists, and what we were taught we believed, and still believe. But while we may both know and believe this truth, nothing is more likely than that, owing to its very commonness and our familiarity with it, we may realise most inadequately the worth of it, and feel very little of that gratitude to God for the revelation of it which we ought to feel. It is not yet a truth known to all the peoples of the earth. It is not a truth which any man, if left to himself, would be sure or even likely to find out. Great men, giants in the intellectual world, have failed to attain to a clear knowledge of God as the alone Creator and Lord of nature. He who believes in God as the Creator and Ruler of the universe can be neither atheist, materialist, or pantheist. The faith in God as the Creator is the necessary basis of all higher spiritual faith.

1. The world being recognised as the work and manifestation of God is thereby invested with a deep religious awe, a solemn religious significance.

2. It is a source of pure and holy joy from which we may draw whenever we look upon anything in nature that is fair and well-fitted to fulfil the end of its creation.

3. By thus sending men to nature as well as Scripture for their religion our text tends to give breadth and freedom to the religious character.

4. Only through realising our relation to nature can we realise our relation to God Himself. We owe all to God, and nothing is our own.

(Robert Flint, D. D.)

1. Though this is generally acknowledged in principle, it is departed from in practice. Only casual and transient thought is given to the never-ceasing care and kindness of Divine providence.

2. All the children of God have, in successive ages, proclaimed and deeply felt the truth of the providence of God. Many instances might be adduced from the lives and declarations of the patriarchs to prove that whether in prosperity or adversity the sense of God's providence was ever present, and His right of possession and disposal ever uppermost in their minds.

3. Practical reflections. The business of commercial life tends to corrupt the mind and the affections, to withdraw them from the Creator and to concentrate them on the creature. We learn the duty of gratitude for all those blessings which out of that fulness He has showered on us. Since the world and its fulness is God's and not ours, as He can give so He can take away. As God has distributed to us some part of the world's fulness, for the use and abuse of our trust we are responsible to Him. The text further declares that not only the "earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof," but also "they that dwell therein." "All souls are Mine," saith the Lord.

(Henry Clissold, M. A.)

I. OF THE ADVANTAGES OF COMMERCE.

1. How vast it is. Its standard is planted upon the Andes and the Himalayas. The great Pacific and Atlantic seas are beaten white by our ships. From the ghauts of Malabar to the sands of Coromandel, from the steppes of the Cossack to the wilds of the Arab, from the Thames and the Mersey to the Mississippi and the Missouri, the commerce of Britain has extended its influence.

2. This great commercial power has done some good. It has opened up new channels of intercourse with mankind. It has created links of sympathy and bonds of union where all was severance and estrangement before.

3. It has gathered round it great homage and eclat.

4. It is very successful.

5. Of great importance to the State.

6. Must ever be associated with agricultural power.

7. Is one of the greatest securities against war.

II. ITS PERILS.

1. Avarice.

2. Considering everything from the trade point of view.

3. Absorbing care.

4. Reckless speculation.

5. Pride.

6. Forgetfulness of God.

III. ITS RESPONSIBILITIES.

1. Merchants should acknowledge God.

2. Seek to extend His kingdom.

3. Remember they are but stewards of their wealth.

4. Pity the poor.

5. Spread the Gospel.

(J. Cumming, D. D.)

This title is not a happy one. "Religiousness" seems to indicate, according to the conventional usage, a flimsy, fussy attention to the externals of religion, rather than a participation in the essential spirit of it. By the use of the adjective "secular" you might suppose I draw the usual broad distinction between things sacred and profane. My question is this, What of religion of the religious spirit — is there about that which is usually called secular learning? By all other kinds of knowledge than the theological? When a man is studying languages, literature, or science, what is the attitude of the soul towards God? My doctrine is founded upon the principle asserted in the text. "The fulness," that is, all which makes it up, every particle and grain of which it is composed. All things are directly related to God as effects are to their cause, as phenomena to their basis, substance, or reality. They exist in Him and by Him.

1. All secular learning is directly or indirectly religious, because it directly or indirectly brings us into contact with the mind of God as manifested in His works. When you have learned a fact in nature you have learned a thought of God.

2. Secular learning is directly religious in its tendencies, because it trains and educates the mind for the clearer and fuller comprehension of theological truth.

(J. Cranbrook.)

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