The Christian life involves a continual struggle for balance. Just think about that for a moment. Christians are both fleshly and spiritual beings, and our carnality wants to be dominant. But we can’t let that happen. To put it another way, we live in the world, but we are exhorted to “set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” There must be a balance. Our study of I Thessalonians reminds us that many tend to emphasize scriptural doctrine, and yet Paul praises those saints – NOT for their theological exactitude – but for their love and faith. He never mentions the word “doctrine” in either of those epistles. He doesn’t bring up any serious doctrinal subjects until the fourth chapter of I Thessalonians. But by then he has spent verse after verse praising those saints for their faith, love and hope in Christ. Apparently doctrine should not be the Christian’s primary focus. But it is still very important, so there needs to be a balance. Another area where we often fail to find scriptural equilibrium is between worship and service. We praise Mary, the sister Lazarus, for her worship of Christ and point our fingers at Martha for her busy Christian activity, but we are more like Martha ourselves. Despite the fact that our service is less than ideal, we are not as worshipful as we picture ourselves. We are far less worshipful than our God wants us to be. “One thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Wednesday I began thinking about Psalm 24 as a means of looking at Christ Jesus. I was considering a doctrinal subject which I could develop into a gospel message. But after jotting down a few notes, the Lord planted another thought in my mind. And comparing the two, I was once again struck with my own lack of balance. In verses 8 and 10 we have an important question: “Who is the King of Glory.” This Psalm answers that question and then explains the answer. We have a nice concise three point doctrinal message.
But then, quite out of the blue, the Holy Spirit suggested, “Don’t forget the worship aspect of this Psalm.” Christians shouldn’t spend all their time LEARNING about Christ; they must also WORSHIP Him. And HOW should we worship the Lord – the King of Glory? This Psalm shows us. We must worship in AWE. “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” A study of God’s creation should put us all in our humble and insignificant place. How should we worship the Lord who is such a mighty God? In absolute awe.
David goes on to tell us – the only proper way to worship Jehovah is with HOLINESS. “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.” “O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.” Only those who have been born again – those with imputed righteousness can worship Him. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” All of us, by birth are spiritually dead; but only the spiritually living can worship the Lord. “Ye must be born again.” And as David tells us here “Righteousness from the God of his salvation.”
We also need to worship with some recognition and appreciation of WHO He is. As the Lord Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “Ye worship ye know not what.” “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Or as David suggests, “Ask yourself, who is the King of glory?” There will always be the necessity of faith in our worship, but that faith is based on revelation, much of which is understandable if we have been born again.
And something else taught here about worship is the essential element of complete and humble SUBMISSION. “WHO is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.” Our God is no bureaucrat or pencil pusher, from whom we are begging a little alms. Only a fool walks into the throne room of THIS King with foolish demands – or even requests. We are talking about the omnipotent Sovereign of the universe.
There needs to be a BALANCE between doctrine and worship. When our doctrine is sound and practical, our worship will be acceptable. This Psalm gives us an opportunity to work on our spiritual stability.
But let’s go back to my original outline.
Who is the King of Glory?
This is an important question, because there may be eight billion incorrect answers. The truth is, everyone wants to be king of his own little fiefdom. If nothing else, we want to be the governor of our lives, making all major decisions on our own. But there is no one who is not subject to someone else – at least sometime. We are like the two cats living at our house. Both of them want to be boss. And as a result there are continual squabbles. But actually neither one is king – I am in their case, and Judy is my queen.. People are no different. Do you remember when President Obama visited England and met Queen Elizabeth. Even on foreign soil he wanted to be king – but it didn’t go very well. He will never be invited back to Buckingham Palace.
There once was a day when earthly kings were monarchs of the first degree. Their words were obeyed as if they were God’s own. Their wishes were treated as if they were commands. They enjoyed luxuries unimagined by the average person. They ate delicacies from the four corners of the world off plates of gold. Their palaces were filed with ivory, gold, diamonds other gems. And if you asked Louis XIV, Charlemagne, Belshazzar or Nero the question of this verse, they might have the gall to answer with their own name. “Who is the king of glory?” I am of course. But there is always someone willing to debate the answer. Every Belshazzar has his Darius; every Zimri has his Omri; every Caesar has his Brutus. But this scripture drives us far beyond the White House, Buckingham Palace or the Vatican city. “WHO is the king of glory?”
Clearly the King of glory is the Lord Jehovah, the King of Kings, the God of heaven and earth. The One described here is the owner and possessor of the universe and every creature it contains. Every beast of the forest is His and the cattle upon a thousand hills – or a thousand WORLDS. “The earth is the LORD’S and the fulness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein.” The earth is the Lord’s because He created it according to His perfect will. Like the tabernacle in the wilderness, it was put together according to his design and plan. The central figure of this Psalm is the Creator of every stick, every rock, every deer, every thing.
And the New Testament boldly declares – Christ Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” He is the sovereign God of all “they that dwell therein” – you, me, the Queen of England and the President of the United States. As God, Christ has the authority to do with us whatsoever He chooses.
David says “the King of glory IS the Lord of hosts.” Jehovah is the king of glory. But that was 3,000 years ago in a land far, far away. Is Christ Jesus, Jehovah, still the King of glory? Yes, He is.
I hope you’ve noticed in your Bible study how closely connected creation and salvation are. We find it here. Verse 1 declares that the earth is the Lord’s. Verse 2 says th it is the Lord’s because He created it. Verses 3 and 4 declare that unholy people are barred from the presence of the Creator. But apparently some may and do stand before Him. And verse 5 teaches that access is a gift from our Creator. Notice how verse 5 is worded – “He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” The only sinner who shall ascend into the Hill of the Lord is the one receiving God’s blessing. There are thousands of blessing given by God on a daily basis. But there is one that stands head and shoulders above all others. It is THE blessing, the blessing of righteousness from the God of Salvation. “Who is the king of glory?” He is the One who deals in the everlasting; not just in time and temporaries. He is above and beyond news cycles and military coups and ta four year elections.
“Who is the king of glory?” This is one of the most important of all questions. It rivals the question of Matthew 22:42 – “What think ye of Christ; whose son is He?” It rivals the question of Acts 16:30 – “What must I do to be saved?” It rivals the question of Pilate – “What is truth?” This question will eventually be answered by every child of Adam, when every knee is bowed before Him. The Bible says that “every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” What think ye? What saith the scripture?
The King of glory is the LORD.
Every student needs to learn and discern the difference ways that the word “Lord” is found of the Bible. Between English, Greek and Hebrew, the word “Lord” might say a dozen different things. In English it speaks of “God,” “Lord,” “Creator,” “Saviour,” “Christ” and others. And in our Bibles it refers back to several different Hebrew and Greek words. Confusion begins when different Greek or Hebrew words are translated with the same English word. In Psalm 35:23 the word “adoni” is translated “Lord” Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.” But in Isaiah 16:8 the word “baal” is translated the same way. Baal was an
idol; a false god. And in Genesis 27:37 it comes from “gebir” which speaks of someone who is very strong. And in Joshua 13:3, “Lord” comes form “sherim” which refers to a prince. All of these are different from the “LORD” which is spelled in all capital letters. That word is the Hebrew “Jehovah.” The God of this Psalm is Jehovah. It refers to the one true and living God, often pointing particularly to the Second Person of the Trinity.
“Who is the king of glory?” Jehovah is the one and only King of glory. He is the Creator of the universe. “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” He is the Lord of the heavenly host – the King of the armies of heaven.
Notice specifically how David answers his own question. “Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.” It is helpful sometimes to know the background of various Psalms – but we get no help here. Was this penned during a time when David’s throne was in jeopardy? Was he in personal danger? We aren’t told. But does that matter? The Psalmist’s question is a simple “Who“? “Who is the King of glory?’ The simple answer is “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. He is always strong and mighty. The Lord hosts, he is the King of glory.”
Is it necessary to explain this answer?
Perhaps it isn’t necessary, but it is at the very least instructive. Answer this: “Against whom or what is the Lord interested in doing battle?” Does the Lord take sides when it comes to wars between nations? Against whom did strong and mighty Jehovah stand during the Vietnam War? The Korean conflict? Why didn’t the Lord of hosts step in and stop either of the two “World Wars” before so many millions of people were blown into eternity unsaved? Clearly, there were occasions in the Bible, when God defended His chosen people Israel, but there were occasions when Israel was not protected and when it seemed that their God was against them.
In our pride and prejudice we like to picture the United States as defended by the God of the Bible. But in reality the Lord is above petty squabbles between nations even our own. And in the battles described in God’s Word, such as Israel against the Egyptians or Israel against the Philistines, the warfare was not as much military as it was spiritual. It was not nation against nation, but God against heresy and idolatry. On Mount Carmel, the battle was not between Elijah and the prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth. The battle was between the Lord, strong and mighty and the idolatry behind those false prophets. It might appear that Jehovah took sides with Noah against the rest of the world. But that is only perception. The Lord was showing Himself to be strong against the wicked sinfulness of humanity.
“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.” Here is David’s comment about the battle for which the Lord Jesus is strong and mighty.
There shall never be an unrighteous soul invited into the King’s holy presence. There is an unbalanced war between God and the sinner – which the sinner always loses. No self-righteous man with sin on his hands and blasphemy in his lips will be given an audience with the King of Kings. As long as we think we are sufficiently good to enter into His presence, we will never enter. The requirement is a “pure heart.” Who, in himself, has a pure heart? Who has never stained his soul with pride? Who has never been unjustly angry? Has any human heart ever been without jealousy or has never lusted after something which was not his? Let’s not make comparisons – “my heart is more pure than yours.” Even if it were true It doesn’t matter, because “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Every heart has “gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” The “Lord strong and mighty” will never permit that impure soul into His glorious presence. And He doesn’t count offences as much as He looks at the natural condition of that soul.
“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall STAND in his holy place?” Actually there will be an occasion when the wicked and impure shall stand before God. But they will not be there of their own accord. They will not invite themselves into His presence. They will not have “ascended into the hill of the Lord.” They will have been summoned. The Apostle John, looking into the future said, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Who shall stand in God’s holy place when the sins are exposed? None. Even those summoned will be there for only a short time, before being cast into the Lake of fire.
And yet there is a generation who seek the face of the Lord, verse 6. Most commentaries interpret “O Jacob” of verse 6 to be speaking about the Saviour, the Lord Jesus. As exceptions, there are a few who shall be invited to stand before this holy God. Those who have received the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. They shall be prepared for that audience with the King, enrobed in the Lord’s own righteousness.
“The earth is the Lord’s …. and they that dwell therein.” The King of glory may bestow His grace upon whomever He chooses. Who is to say that He hasn’t chosen you? Why not find out? Why not ask Him? Why not repent before Him, emptying yourself of every evil thing even every good thing in your life? Cast aside all your self-righteousness, your good works, your kindnesses, your generosity and everything else you might consider to be positive in you. We know to repent of our evils, but God wants the sacrifice of our personal righteousness as well. Only God’s own righteousness is accepted in His palace. So repent before God and “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”