Summary: Christ is the King of Glory. He is the One who ascends into the Presence of the Lord. Only He has perfectly fulfilled the Law in perfect righteousness. Christ, who went to the cross and defeated our two greatest enemies: Sin and death!
It’s funny how things go sometimes. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have started out preaching by making a political disclaimer but, given what’s going on today with the government shut down and caravans, I feel the need to be perfectly clear that what I am about to say is not political in any way, shape, or form. So … having cleared that up … I[m going to start out talking about walls this morning. Your see, for hundreds of centuries it has been a military and architectural truth that good walls make good neighbors … or at least protects you from the more hostile ones.
A city without a wall was … well, it was just unthinkable … insane. It left you vulnerable … exposed to your enemies and marauders. Walls were a symbol of strength. You were safe … protected … behind the wall until … well, until the enemy or attackers came over the wall or through the wall. And the easiest way to breach a wall or break through a wall was? Can you guess? Picture battering rams or burning bales of tar-soaked hay or wood. Yeah … the gate! So, an open gate signified “welcome” and a closed gate signified protection from danger, attack, or hostility.
In Psalm 24, the call to fling open the gates of the city heralds the arrival of the King of glory. Likewise, in Georg Weissel’s hymn, “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates,” the call to fling open the gates of your heart heralds the arrival of the King of kings. An open gate … the sign of welcome and the sing of vulnerability.
After David was anointed king in 2nd Samuel 5, David defeated the Philistines and captured the city of Jerusalem. And David … now a king … does a curious and beautiful thing. When a city like Jerusalem was defeated, the conquering king would put on a big show of victory by riding through the main gate into the captured city amongst a great deal of music and praise and fanfare. King David, however, gives God the victory and signifies that by bringing the Ark of the Covenant into the city with music and praises and great fanfare. The Ark was a testimony of God’s Presence with His people … and it served as a reminder to Israel that God is the One who saved them from their enemies, established them, and provided all that they needed. But the Ark and the Tabernacle … with all its sacrifices and celebrations and festival … were always pointing to something much greater. They gave God’s people a glimpse of what God would one day do through Jesus on the Cross.
In Psalm 24, King David is calling upon the people of Jerusalem to prepare for the coming of the Ark of the Covenant into the city … the Ark that was destined to reside in the Holy of Holies … the holiest part of the Temple … the Ark that represented the Presence of the Lord among the people. David is calling is people to open the gates of the city so that the Lord can enter in victorious … so that God can dwell among them and be the Lord of their lives.
In the same way, Weissel’s hymn, “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates,” is calling us to open the gates of our hearts so that the Lord can enter in like a victorious King. Weissel is calling us to make our hearts a temple … a holy place fit for the Lord’s Presence … a place “adorned with prayer and love and joy” (stanza 2).
David begins his psalm by answering the questions: “Who is God?” and “Why should we serve Him?” To begin with, says David, the earth is God’s possession. Not just Jerusalem … not just Israel … but the whole earth! “The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” Not just the whole earth belongs to God but its fullness. All that is in it. All that it produces. All that it will ever produce. All of it belongs to God.
Our God not only owns the land, the water, the air, the animals, the plants, and the birds. He also owns and is sovereign over all the people … every man, woman, and child. His sovereignty is not just over Jerusalem … not just over Israel … but over the whole world. The world for “earth” and “world” in verse 1 are two different words in Hebrew. The word David uses for “earth” refers to the actual planet … the dirt under our feet. The word he uses for “world” refers to those who live on the earth … the inhabited regions of this planet. Everywhere that God has been pleased to allow people to dwell, He is to be acknowledged as Lord and Sovereign Rule of the heavens and the earth.