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Psalm 23

The Divine Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

1

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

2

He makes me lie down in green pastures;

he leads me beside still waters;

3

he restores my soul.

He leads me in right paths

for his name’s sake.

 

4

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,

I fear no evil;

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff—

they comfort me.

 

5

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

6

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

my whole life long.

Psalm 24

Entrance into the Temple

Of David. A Psalm.

1

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,

the world, and those who live in it;

2

for he has founded it on the seas,

and established it on the rivers.

 

3

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?

And who shall stand in his holy place?

4

Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,

who do not lift up their souls to what is false,

and do not swear deceitfully.

5

They will receive blessing from the Lord,

and vindication from the God of their salvation.

6

Such is the company of those who seek him,

who seek the face of the God of Jacob.Selah

 

7

Lift up your heads, O gates!

and be lifted up, O ancient doors!

that the King of glory may come in.

8

Who is the King of glory?

The Lord, strong and mighty,

the Lord, mighty in battle.

9

Lift up your heads, O gates!

and be lifted up, O ancient doors!

that the King of glory may come in.

10

Who is this King of glory?

The Lord of hosts,

he is the King of glory.Selah


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The Divine Shepherd.

A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.   2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.   3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.   4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.   5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.   6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

From three very comfortable premises David, in this psalm, draws three very comfortable conclusions, and teaches us to do so too. We are saved by hope, and that hope will not make us ashamed, because it is well grounded. It is the duty of Christians to encourage themselves in the Lord their God; and we are here directed to take that encouragement both from the relation wherein he stands to us and from the experience we have had of his goodness according to that relation.

I. From God's being his shepherd he infers that he shall not want anything that is good for him, v. 1. See here, 1. The great care that God takes of believers. He is their shepherd, and they may call him so. Time was when David was himself a shepherd; he was taken from following the ewes great with young (Ps. lxxviii. 70, 71), and so he knew by experience the cares and tender affections of a good shepherd towards his flock. He remembered what need they had of a shepherd, and what a kindness it was to them to have one that was skilful and faithful; he once ventured his life to rescue a lamb. By this therefore he illustrates God's care of his people; and to this our Saviour seems to refer when he says, I am the shepherd of the sheep; the good shepherd, John x. 11. He that is the shepherd of Israel, of the whole church in general (Ps. lxxx. 1), is the shepherd of every particular believer; the meanest is not below his cognizance, Isa. xl. 11. He takes them into his fold, and then takes care of them, protects them, and provides for them, with more care and constancy than a shepherd can, that makes it his business to keep the flock. If God be as a shepherd to us, we must be as sheep, inoffensive, meek, and quiet, silent before the shearers, nay, and before the butcher too, useful and sociable; we must know the shepherd's voice, and follow him. 2. The great confidence which believers have in God: "If the Lord is my shepherd, my feeder, I may conclude I shall not want any thing that is really necessary and good for me." If David penned this psalm before his coming to the crown, though destined to it, he had as much reason to fear wanting as any man. Once he sent his men a begging for him to Nabal, and another time went himself a begging to Ahimelech; and yet, when he considers that God is his shepherd, he can boldly say, I shall not want. Let not those fear starving that are at God's finding and have him for their feeder. More is implied than is expressed, not only, I shall not want, but, "I shall be supplied with whatever I need; and, if I have not every thing I desire, I may conclude it is either not fit for me or not good for me or I shall have it in due time."

II. From his performing the office of a good shepherd to him he infers that he needs not fear any evil in the greatest dangers and difficulties he could be in, v. 2-4. He experiences the benefit of God's presence with him and care of him now, and therefore expects the benefit of them when he most needs it. See here,

1. The comforts of a living saint. God is his shepherd and his God—a God all-sufficient to all intents and purposes. David found him so, and so have we. See the happiness of the saints as the sheep of God's pasture. (1.) They are well placed, well laid: He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. We have the supports and comforts of this life from God's good hand, our daily bread from him as our Father. The greatest abundance is but a dry pasture to a wicked man, who relishes that only in it which pleases the senses; but to a godly man, who tastes the goodness of God in all his enjoyments, and by faith relishes that, though he has but little of the world, it is a green pasture, Ps. xxxvii. 16; Prov. xv. 16, 17. God's ordinances are the green pastures in which food is provided for all believers; the word of life is the nourishment of the new man. It is milk for babes, pasture for sheep, never barren, never eaten bare, never parched, but always a green pasture for faith to feed in. God makes his saints to lie down; he gives them quiet and contentment in their own minds, what ever their lot is; their souls dwell at ease in him, and that makes every pasture green. Are we blessed with the green pastures of the ordinances? Let us not think it enough to pass through them, but let us lie down in them, abide in them; this is my rest for ever. It is by a constancy of the means of grace that the soul is fed. (2.) They are well guided, well led. The shepherd of Israel guides Joseph like a flock; and every believer is under the same guidance: He leadeth me beside the still waters. Those that feed on God's goodness must follow his direction; he leads them by his providence, by his word, by his Spirit, disposes of their affairs for the best, according to his counsel, disposes their affections and actions according to his command, directs their eye, their way, and their heart, into his love. The still waters by which he leads them yield them, not only a pleasant prospect, but many a cooling draught, many a reviving cordial, when they are thirsty and weary. God provides for his people not only food and rest, but refreshment also and pleasure. The consolations of God, the joys of the Holy Ghost, are these still waters, by which the saints are led, streams which flow from the fountain of living waters and make glad the city of our God. God leads his people, not to the standing waters which corrupt and gather filth, not to the troubled sea, nor to the rapid rolling floods, but to the silent purling waters; for the still but running waters agree best with those spirits that flow out towards God and yet do it silently. The divine guidance they are under is stripped of its metaphor (v. 3): He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness, in the way of my duty; in that he instructs me by his word and directs me by conscience and providence. Theses are the paths in which all the saints desire to be led and kept, and never to turn aside out of them. And those only are led by the still waters of comfort that walk in the paths of righteousness. The way of duty is the truly pleasant way. It is the work of righteousness that is peace. In these paths we cannot walk unless God both lead us into them and lead us in them. (3.) They are well helped when any thing ails them: He restoreth my soul. [1.] "He restores me when I wander." No creature will lose itself sooner than a sheep, so apt is it to go astray, and then so unapt to find the way back. The best saints are sensible of their proneness to go astray like lost sheep (Ps. cxix. 176); they miss their way, and turn aside into by-paths; but when God shows them their error, gives them repentance, and brings them back to their duty again, he restores the soul; and, if he did not do so, they would wander endlessly and be undone. When, after one sin, David's heart smote him, and, after another, Nathan was sent to tell him, Thou art the man, God restored his soul. Though God may suffer his people to fall into sin, he will not suffer them to lie still in it. [2.] "He recovers me when I am sick, and revives me when I am faint, and so restores the soul which was ready to depart." He is the Lord our God that heals us, Exod. xv. 26. Many a time we should have fainted unless we had believed; and it was the good shepherd that kept us from fainting.

2. See here the courage of a dying saint (v. 4): "Having had such experience of God's goodness to me all my days, in six troubles and in seven, I will never distrust him, no, not in the last extremity; the rather because all he has done for me hitherto was not for any merit or desert of mine, but purely for his name's sake, in pursuance of his word, in performance of his promise, and for the glory of his own attributes and relations to his people. That name therefore shall still be my strong tower, and shall assure me that he who has led me, and fed me, all my life long, will not leave me at last." Here is,

(1.) Imminent danger supposed: "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, that is, though I am in peril of death, though in the midst of dangers, deep as a valley, dark as a shadow, and dreadful as death itself," or rather, "though I am under the arrests of death, have received the sentence of death within myself, and have all the reason in the world to look upon myself as a dying man, yet I am easy." Those that are sick, those that are old, have reason to look upon themselves as in the valley of the shadow of death. Here is one word indeed which sounds terrible; it is death, which we must all count upon; there is no discharge in that war. But, even in the supposition of the distress, there are four words which lessen the terror:—It is death indeed that is before us; but, [1.] It is but the shadow of death; there is no substantial evil in it; the shadow of a serpent will not sting nor the shadow of a sword kill. [2.] It is the valley of the shadow, deep indeed, and dark, and dirty; but the valleys are fruitful, and so is death itself fruitful of comforts to God's people. [3.] It is but a walk in this valley, a gentle pleasant walk. The wicked are chased out of the world, and their souls are required; but the saints take a walk to another world as cheerfully as they take their leave of this. [4.] It is a walk through it; they shall not be lost in this valley, but get safely to the mountain of spices on the other side of it.

(2.) This danger made light of, and triumphed over, upon good grounds. Death is a king of terrors, but not to the sheep of Christ; they tremble at it no more than sheep do that are appointed for the slaughter. "Even in the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil. None of these things move me." Note, A child of God may meet the messengers of death, and receive its summons with a holy security and serenity of mind. The sucking child may play upon the hole of this asp; and the weaned child, that, through grace, is weaned from this world, may put his hand upon this cockatrice's den, bidding a holy defiance to death, as Paul, O death! where is thy sting? And there is ground enough for this confidence, [1.] Because there is no evil in it to a child of God; death cannot separate us from the love of God, and therefore it can do us no real harm; it kills the body, but cannot touch the soul. Why should it be dreadful when there is nothing in it hurtful? [2.] Because the saints have God's gracious presence with them in their dying moments; he is then at their right hand, and therefore why should they be moved? The good shepherd will not only conduct, but convoy, his sheep through the valley, where they are in danger of being set upon by the beasts of prey, the ravening wolves; he will not only convoy them, but comfort then when they most need comfort. His presence shall comfort them: Thou art with me. His word and Spirit shall comfort them—his rod and staff, alluding to the shepherd's crook, or the rod under which the sheep passed when they were counted (Lev. xxvii. 32), or the staff with which the shepherds drove away the dogs that would scatter or worry the sheep. It is a comfort to the saints, when they come to die, that God takes cognizance of them (he knows those that are his), that he will rebuke the enemy, that he will guide them with his rod and sustain them with his staff. The gospel is called the rod of Christ's strength (Ps. cx. 2), and there is enough in that to comfort the saints when they come to die, and underneath them are the everlasting arms.

III. From the good gifts of God's bounty to him now he infers the constancy and perpetuity of his mercy, v. 5, 6. Here we may observe,

1. How highly he magnifies God's gracious vouchsafements to him (v. 5): "Thou preparest a table before me; thou hast provided for me all things pertaining both to life and godliness, all things requisite both for body and soul, for time and eternity:" such a bountiful benefactor is God to all his people; and it becomes them abundantly to utter his great goodness, as David here, who acknowledges, (1.) That he had food convenient, a table spread, a cup filled, meat for his hunger, drink for his thirst. (2.) That he had it carefully and readily provided for him. His table was not spread with any thing that came next to hand, but prepared, and prepared before him. (3.) That he was not stinted, was not straitened, but had abundance: "My cup runs over, enough for myself and my friends too." (4.) That he had not only for necessity, but for ornament and delight: Thou anointest my head with oil. Samuel anointed him king, which was a certain pledge of further favor; but this is rather an instance of the plenty with which God had blessed him, or an allusion to the extraordinary entertainment of special friends, whose heads they anointed with oil, Luke vii. 46. Nay, some think he still looks upon himself as a sheep, but such a one as the poor man's ewe-lamb (2 Sam. xii. 3), that did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom; not only thus nobly, but thus tenderly, are the children of God looked after. Plentiful provision is made for their bodies, for their souls, for the life that now is and for that which is to come. If Providence do not bestow upon us thus plentifully for our natural life, it is our own fault if it be not made up to us in spiritual blessings.

2. How confidently he counts upon the continuance of God's favours, v. 6. He had said (v. 1), I shall not want; but now he speaks more positively, more comprehensively: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. His hope rises, and his faith is strengthened, by being exercised. Observe, (1.) What he promises himself—goodness and mercy, all the streams of mercy flowing from the fountain, pardoning mercy, protecting mercy, sustaining mercy, supplying mercy. (2.) The manner of the conveyance of it: It shall follow me, as the water out of the rock followed the camp of Israel through the wilderness; it shall follow into all places and all conditions, shall be always ready. (3.) The continuance of it: It shall follow me all my life long, even to the last; for whom God loves he loves to the end. (4.) The constancy of it: All the days of my life, as duly as the day comes; it shall be new every morning (Lam. iii. 22, 23) like the manna that was given to the Israelites daily. (5.) The certainty of it: Surely it shall. It is as sure as the promise of the God of truth can make it; and we know whom we have believed. (6.) Here is a prospect of the perfection of bliss in the future state. So some take the latter clause: "Goodness and mercy having followed me all the days of my life on this earth, when that is ended I shall remove to a better world, to dwell in the house of the Lord for ever, in our Father's house above, where there are many mansions. With what I have I am pleased much; with what I hope for I am pleased more." All this, and heaven too! Then we serve a good Master.

3. How resolutely he determines to cleave to God and to his duty. We read the last clause as David's covenant with God: "I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever (as long as I live), and I will praise him while I have any being." We must dwell in his house as servants, that desired to have their ears bored to the door-post, to serve him for ever. If God's goodness to us be like the morning light, which shines more and more to the perfect day, let not ours to him be like the morning cloud and the early dew that passeth away. Those that would be satisfied with the fatness of God's house must keep close to the duties of it.

God's Absolute Propriety.

A psalm of David.

1 The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.   2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

Here is, I. God's absolute propriety in this part of the creation where our lot is cast, v. 1. We are not to think that the heavens, even the heavens only, are the Lord's, and the numerous and bright inhabitants of the upper world, and that this earth, being so small and inconsiderable a part of the creation, and at such a distance from the royal palace above, is neglected, and that he claims no interest in it. No, even the earth is his, and this lower world; and, though he has prepared the throne of his glory in the heavens, yet his kingdom rules over all, and even the worms of this earth are not below his cognizance, nor from under his dominion. 1. When God gave the earth to the children of men he still reserved to himself the property, and only let it out to them as tenants, or usufructuaries: The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof. The mines that are lodged in the bowels of it, even the richest, the fruits it produces, all the beasts of the forest and the cattle upon a thousand hills, our lands and houses, and all the improvements that are made of this earth by the skill and industry of man, are all his. These indeed, in the kingdom of grace, are justly looked upon as emptiness; for they are vanity of vanities, nothing to a soul; but, in the kingdom of providence, they are fulness. The earth is full of God's riches, so is the great and wide sea also. All the parts and regions of the earth are the Lord's, all under his eye, all in his hand: so that, wherever a child of God goes, he may comfort himself with this, that he does not go off his Father's ground. That which falls to our share of the earth and its productions is but lent to us; it is the Lord's; what is our own against all the world is not so against his claims. That which is most remote from us, as that which passes through the paths of the sea, or is hidden in the bottom of it, is the Lord's and he knows where to find it. 2. The habitable part of this earth (Prov. viii. 31) is his in a special manner—the world and those that dwell therein. We ourselves are not our own, our bodies, our souls, are not. All souls are mine, says God; for he is the former of our bodies and the Father of our spirits. Our tongues are not our own; they are to be at his service. Even those of the children of men that know him not, nor own their relation to him, are his. Now this comes in here to show that, though God is graciously pleased to accept the devotions and services of his peculiar chosen people (v. 3-5), it is not because he needs them, or can be benefited by them, for the earth is his and all in it, Exod. xix. 5; Ps. l. 12. It is likewise to be applied to the dominion Christ has, as Mediator, over the utmost parts of the earth, which are given him for his possession: the Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into his hand, power over all flesh. The apostle quotes this scripture twice together in his discourse about things offered to idols, 1 Cor. x. 26, 28. "If it be sold in the shambles, eat it, and ask no questions; for the earth is the Lord's; it is God's good creature, and you have a right to it. But, if one tell you it was offered to an idol, forbear, for the earth is the Lord's, and there is enough besides." This is a good reason why we should be content with our allotment in this world, and not envy others theirs; the earth is the Lord's, and may he not do what he will with his own, and give to some more of it, to others less, as it pleases him?

II. The ground of this propriety. The earth is his by an indisputable title, for he hath founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods, v. 2. It is his; for, 1. He made it, formed it, founded it, and fitted it for the use of man. The matter is his, for he made it out of nothing; the form is his, for he made it according to the eternal counsels and ideas of his own mind. He made it himself, he made it for himself; so that he is sole, entire, and absolute owner, and none can let us a title to any part, but by, from, and under him; see Ps. lxxxix. 11, 12. 2. He made it so as no one else could. It is the creature of omnipotence, for it is founded upon the seas, upon the floods, a weak and unstable foundation (one would think) to build the earth upon, and yet, if almighty power please, it shall serve to bear the weight of this earth. The waters which at first covered the earth, and rendered it unfit to be a habitation for man, were ordered under it, that the dry land might appear, and so they are as a foundation to it; see Ps. civ. 8, 9. 3. He continues it, he has established it, fixed it, so that, though one generation passes and another comes, the earth abides, Eccl. i. 4. And his providence is a continued creation, Ps. cxix. 90. The founding of the earth upon the floods should remind us how slippery and uncertain all earthly things are; their foundation is not only sand, but water; it is therefore our folly to build upon them.

The Character of True Israelites.

3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?   4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.   5 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.   6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.

From this world, and the fulness thereof, the psalmist's meditations rise, of a sudden to the great things of another world, the foundation of which is not on the seas, nor on the floods. The things of this world God has given to the children of men and we are much indebted to his providence for them; but they will not make a portion for us. And therefore,

I. Here is an enquiry after better things, v. 3. This earth is God's footstool; but, if we had ever so much of it, we must be here but a while, must shortly go hence, and Who then shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Who shall go to heaven hereafter, and, as an earnest of that, shall have communion with God in holy ordinances now? A soul that knows and considers its own nature, origin, and immortality, when it has viewed the earth and the fulness thereof, will sit down unsatisfied; there is not found among all the creatures a help meet for man, and therefore it will think of ascending towards God, towards heaven, will ask, "What shall I do to rise to that high place, that hill, where the Lord dwells and manifests himself, that I may be acquainted with him, and to abide in that happy holy place where he meets his people and makes them holy and happy? What shall I do that I may be of those whom God owns for his peculiar people and who are his in another manner than the earth is his and its fulness?" This question is much the same with that, Ps. xv. 1. The hill of Zion on which the temple was built typified the church, both visible and invisible. When the people attended the ark to its holy place David puts them in mind that these were but patterns of heavenly things, and therefore that by them they should be led to consider the heavenly things themselves.

II. An answer to this enquiry, in which we have,

1. The properties of God's peculiar people, who shall have communion with him in grace and glory. (1.) They are such as keep themselves from all the gross acts of sin. They have clean hands; not spotted with the pollutions of the world and the flesh. None that were ceremonially unclean might enter into the mountain of the temple, which signified that cleanness of conversation which is required in all those that have fellowship with God. The hands lifted up in prayer must be pure hands, no blot of unjust gain cleaving to them, nor any thing else that defiles the man and is offensive to the holy God. (2.) They are such as make conscience of being really (that is, of being inwardly) as good as they seem to be outwardly. They have pure hearts. We make nothing of our religion if we do not make heart-work of it. It is not enough that our hands be clean before men, but we must also wash our hearts from wickedness, and not allow ourselves in any secret heart-impurities, which are open before the eye of God. Yet in vain do those pretend to have pure and good hearts whose hands are defiled with the acts of sin. That is a pure heart which is sincere and without guile in covenanting with God, which is carefully guarded, that the wicked one, the uncle an spirit, touch it not, which is purified by faith, and conformed to the image and will of God; see Matt. v. 8. (3.) They are such as do not set their affections upon the things of this world, do not lift up their souls unto vanity, whose hearts are not carried out inordinately towards the wealth of this world, the praise of men, or the delights of sense, who do not choose these things for their portion, nor reach forth after them, because they believe them to be vanity, uncertain and unsatisfying. (4.) They are such as deal honestly both with God and man. In their covenant with God, and their contracts with men, they have not sworn deceitfully, nor broken their promises, violated their engagements, nor taken any false oath. Those that have no regard to the obligations of truth or the honour of God's name are unfit for a place in God's holy hill. (5.) They are a praying people (v. 6): This is the generation of those that seek him. In every age there is a remnant of such as these, men of this character, who are accounted to the Lord for a generation, Ps. xxii. 30. And they are such as seek God, that seek they face, O Jacob! [1.] They join themselves to God, to seek him, not only in earnest prayer, but in serious endeavours to obtain his favour and keep themselves in his love. Having made it the summit of their happiness, they make it the summit of their ambition to be accepted of him, and therefore take care and pains to approve themselves to him. It is to the hill of the Lord that we must ascend, and, the way being up-hill, we have need to put forth ourselves to the utmost, as those that seek diligently. [2.] They join themselves to the people of God, to seek God with them. Being brought into communion with God, they come into communion of saints; conforming to the patterns of the saints that have gone before (so some understand this), they seek God's face, as Jacob (so some), who was therefore surnamed Israel, because he wrestled with God and prevailed, sought him and found him; and, associating with the saints of their own day, they shall court the favour of God's church (Rev. iii. 9), shall be glad of an acquaintance with God's people (Zech. viii. 23), shall incorporate themselves with them, and, when they subscribe with their hands to the Lord, shall call themselves by the name of Jacob, Isa. xliv. 5. As soon as ever Paul was converted he joined himself to the disciples, Acts ix. 26. They shall seek God's face in Jacob (so some), that is, in the assemblies of his people. Thy face, O God of Jacob! so our margin supplies it, and makes it easy. As all believers are the spiritual seed of Abraham, so all that strive in prayer are the spiritual seed of Jacob, to whom God never said, Seek you me in vain.

2. The privileges of God's peculiar people, v. 5. They shall be made truly and for ever happy. (1.) They shall be blessed: they shall receive the blessing from the Lord, all the fruits and gifts of God's favour, according to his promise; and those whom God blesses are blessed indeed, for it is his prerogative to command the blessing. (2.) They shall be justified and sanctified. These are the spiritual blessings in heavenly things which they shall receive, even righteousness, the very thing they hunger and thirst after, Matt. v. 6. Righteousness is blessedness, and it is from God only that we must expect it, for we have no righteousness of our own. They shall receive the reward of their righteousness (so some), the crown of righteousness which the righteous Judge shall give, 2 Tim. iv. 8. (3.) They shall be saved; for God himself will be the God of their salvation. Note, Where God gives righteousness he certainly designs salvation. Those that are made meet for heaven shall be brought safely to heaven, and then they will find what they have been seeking, to their endless satisfaction.

The King of Glory.

7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.   8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.   9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.   10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

What is spoken once is spoken a second time in these verses; such repetitions are usual in songs, and have much beauty in them. Here is, 1. Entrance once and again demanded for the King of glory; the doors and gates are to be thrown open, thrown wide open, to give him admission, for behold he stands at the door and knocks, ready to come in. 2. Enquiry once and again made concerning this mighty prince, in whose name entrance is demanded: Who is this King of glory? As, when any knock at our door, it is common to ask, Who is there? 3. Satisfaction once and again given concerning the royal person that makes the demand: It is the Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle, the Lord of hosts, v. 8, 10. Now,

I. This splendid entry here described it is probable refers to the solemn bringing in of the ark into the tent David pitched for it or the temple Solomon built for it; for, when David prepared materials for the building of it, it was proper for him to prepare a psalm for the dedication of it. The porters are called upon to open the doors, and they are called everlasting doors, because much more durable than the door of the tabernacle, which was but a curtain. They are taught to ask, Who is this King of glory? And those that bore the ark are taught to answer in the language before us, and very fitly, because the ark was a symbol or token of God's presence, Josh. iii. 11. Or it may be taken as a poetical figure designed to represent the subject more affectingly. God, in his word and ordinances, is thus to be welcomed by us, 1. With great readiness: the doors and gates must be thrown open to him. Let the word of the Lord come into the innermost and uppermost place in our souls; and, if we had 600 necks, we should bow them all to the authority of it. 2. With all reverence, remembering how great a God he is with whom we have to do, in all our approaches to him.

II. Doubtless it points at Christ, of whom the ark, with the mercy-seat, was a type. 1. We may apply it to the ascension of Christ into heaven and the welcome given to him there. When he had finished his work on earth he ascended in the clouds of heaven, Dan. vii. 13, 14. The gates of heaven must then be opened to him, those doors that may be truly called everlasting, which had been shut against us, to keep the way of the tree of life, Gen. iii. 24. Our Redeemer found them shut, but, having by his blood made atonement for sin and gained a title to enter into the holy place (Heb. ix. 12), as one having authority, he demanded entrance, not for himself only, but for us; for, as the forerunner, he has for us entered and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. The keys not only of hell and death, but of heaven and life, must be put into his hand. His approach being very magnificent, the angels are brought in asking, Who is this King of glory? For angels keep the gates of the New Jerusalem, Rev. xxi. 12. When the first-begotten was brought into the upper world the angels were to worship him (Heb. i. 6); and accordingly, they here ask with wonder, "Who is he?—this that cometh with dyed garments from Bozrah? (Isa. lxiii. 1-3), for he appears in that world as a Lamb that had been slain." It is answered that he is strong and mighty, mighty in battle, to save his people and subdue his and their enemies. 2. We may apply it to Christ's entrance into the souls of men by his word and Spirit, that they may be his temples. Christ's presence in them is like that of the ark in the temple; it sanctifies them. Behold, he stands at the door and knocks, Rev. iii. 20. It is required that the gates and doors of the heart be opened to him, not only as admission is given to a guest, but as possession is delivered to the rightful owner, after the title has been contested. This is the gospel call and demand, that we let Jesus Christ, the King of glory, come into our souls, and welcome him with hosannas, Blessed is he that cometh. That we may do this aright we are concerned to ask, Who is this King of glory?—to acquaint ourselves with him, whom we are to believe in, and to love above all. And the answer is ready: He is Jehovah, and will be Jehovah our righteousness, an all-sufficient Saviour to us, if we give him entrance and entertainment. He is strong and mighty, and the Lord of hosts; and therefore it is at our peril if we deny him entrance; for he is able to avenge the affront; he can force his way, and can break those in pieces with his iron rod that will not submit to his golden sceptre.

In singing this let our hearts cheerfully answer to this call, as it is in the first words of the next psalm, Unto thee, O Lord! do I lift up my soul.




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