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Psalm 24:7-10

7. Lift up your heads, O ye gates! and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors! and the King of glory shall enter in. 8. Who is this King of glory? Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle. 9. Lift up your heads, O ye gates! Be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors! and the King of glory shall enter in. 10. Who is this King of glory? Jehovah of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

 

7. Lift up your heads, O ye gates! The magnificent and splendid structure of the temple, in which there was more outward majesty than in the tabernacle, not being yet erected, David here speaks of the future building of it. By doing this, he encourages the pious Israelites to employ themselves more willingly, and with greater confidence, in the ceremonial observances of the law. It was no ordinary token of the goodness of God that he condescended to dwell in the midst of them by a visible symbol of his presence, and was willing that his heavenly dwelling-place should be seen upon earth. This doctrine ought to be of use to us at this day; for it is an instance of the inestimable grace of God, that so far as the infirmity of our flesh will permit, we are lifted up even to God by the exercises of religion. What is the design of the preaching of the word, the sacraments, the holy assemblies, and the whole external government of the church, but that we may be united to God? It is not, therefore, without good reason that David extols so highly the service of God appointed in the law, seeing God exhibited himself to his saints in the ark of the covenant, and thereby gave them a certain pledge of speedy succor whenever they should invoke him for aid. God, it is true, “dwelleth not in temples made with hands,” nor does he take delight in outward pomp; but as it was useful, and as it was also the pleasure of God, that his ancient people, who were rude, and still in their infancy, should be lifted up to him by earthly elements, David does not here hesitate to set forth to them, for the confirmation of their faith, the sumptuous building of the temple, to assure them that it was not a useless theater; but that when they rightly worshipped God in it, according to the appointment of his word, they stood as it were in his presence, and would actually experience that he was near them. The amount of what is stated is, that in proportion as the temple which God had commanded to be built to him upon mount Sion, surpassed the tabernacle in magnificence, it would be so much the brighter a mirror of the glory and power of God dwelling among the Jews. In the meantime, as David himself burned with intense desire for the erection of the temple, so he wished to inflame the hearts of all the godly with the same ardent desire, that, aided by the rudiments of the law, they might make more and more progress in the fear of God. He terms the gates, everlasting, because the promise of God secured their continual stability. The temple excelled in materials and in workmanship, but its chief excellence consisted in this, that the promise of God was engraven upon it, as we shall see in Psalm 132:14, “This is my rest for ever.” In terming the gates everlasting, the Psalmist, at the same time, I have no doubt, makes a tacit contrast between the tabernacle and the temple. The tabernacle never had any certain abiding place, but being from time to time transported from one place to another, was like a wayfaring man. When, however, mount Sion was chosen, and the temple built, God then began to have there a certain and fixed place of abode. By the coming of Christ, that visible shadow vanished, and it is therefore not wonderful that the temple is no longer to be seen upon mount Sion, seeing it is now so great as to occupy the whole world. If it is objected, that at the time of the Babylonish captivity the gates which Solomon had built were demolished, I answer, God’s decree stood fast, notwithstanding that temporary overthrow; and by virtue of it, the temple was soon after rebuilt; which was the same as if it had always continued entire. The Septuagint has from ignorance corrupted this passage. 550550     The Septuagint reads, Αρατε πύλὰς οἱ ἄρχοντες ὑμῶν, which may be rendered, “Ye princes, lift up your gates.” The reading of the Vulgate is similar: “Attollite portas principes vestras“ and so is that of the Arabic and Ethiopic. But that rendering, as Calvin justly observes, inadmissible; for in the Hebrew text, the affix כם, kem, your, is joined to ראשי, roshey, heads, and not to שערים, shearim, gates. Although, however the reading of the Septuagint may be translated as above, “Ye princes, lift up your gates,” Hammond thinks it more probable, that the translators intended οἱ ἄρχοντες ὑμῶν, your princes, to represent ראשיכם, rashekem, as myertin, by mistake, the construction of the sentence, so your heads, as to give this reading, “Your heads, or princes, lift up the gates, instead of, “Ye gates, lift up your heads.” The Hebrew word ראשים, rashim, which we have rendered heads, is no doubt sometimes taken metaphorically for princes; but the word your, which is here annexed to it, sufficiently shows that we cannot draw from it another sense than this — that the gates lift up their heads, otherwise we must say, Your princes. Some, therefore, think that kings and magistrates are here admonished of their duty, which is to open up the way, and give entrance to God. This is a plausible interpretation, but it is too much removed from the design and words of the prophet. Above all, from the natural sense of the words, we may perceive how foolishly and basely the Papists have abused this passage for the confirmation of the gross and ridiculous notion by which they introduce Christ as knocking at the gate of the infernal regions, in order to obtain admission. 551551     “Par lesquels ils introduissent Christ frappant a la porte pour entrer les enfers.” — Fr. Let us, therefore, learn from this, to handle the holy word of God with sobriety and reverence, and to hold Papists in detestation, who, as it were, make sport of corrupting and falsifying it in this manner, by their execrable impieties. 552552     “Qui comme sacrileges execrables tienent pour jeu de la corrompre et falsifier en ceste sorte.” — Fr.

8. Who is this King of glory? etc The praises by which the power of God is here magnified are intended to tell the Jews that he did not sit idle in his temple, but took up his abode in it, in order to show himself ready to succor his people. It is to be observed, that there is great weight both in the interrogation, and in the repetition of the same sentence. The prophet assumes the person of one who wonders thereby to express with greater effect that God comes armed with invincible power to maintain and save his people, and to keep the faithful in safety under his shadow. We have already said, that when God is spoken of as dwelling in the temple, it is not to be understood as if his infinite and incomprehensible essence had been shut up or confined within it; but that he was present there by his power and grace, as is implied in the promise which he made to Moses,

“In all places where I record my name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee,” (Exodus 20:24.)

That this was no vain and empty promise, but that God truly dwelt in the midst of the people, is what the faithful experienced who sought him not superstitiously, as if he had been fixed to the temple, but made use of the temple and of the service which was performed in it for elevating their hearts to heaven. The amount of what is stated is, that whenever the people should call upon God in the temple, it would manifestly appear, from the effect which would follow, that the ark of the covenant was not a vain and an illusory symbol of the presence of God, because he would always stretch forth his omnipotent arm for the defense and protection of his people. The repetition teaches us that true believers cannot be too constant and diligent in meditation on this subject. The Son of God, clothed with our flesh, has now shown himself to be King of glory and Lord of hosts, and he is not entered into his temple only by shadows and figures, but really and in very deed, that he may dwell in the midst of us. There is, therefore, nothing to hinder us from boasting that we shall be invincible by his power. Mount Sion, it is true, is not at this day the place appointed for the sanctuary, and the ark of the covenant is no longer the image or representation of God dwelling between the cherubim; but as we have this privilege in common with the fathers, that, by the preaching of the word and the sacraments, we may be united to God, it becomes us to use these helps with reverence; for if we despise them by a detestable pride, God cannot but at length utterly withdraw himself from us.


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