Summary: End of year sermon to encourage and inspire
“The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. 3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face—even 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 lift them 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.”
Despite my shameless pilfering of Tolkien’s book title for the title of my sermon, and although I probably shouldn’t even bring that fact to your attention, by the time we are done today I think you will be able to see that I could hardly have picked any other name. I did, in fact struggle with several choices, more than any other sermon in recent memory. In the end though, it kept coming back to this – we have before us a Psalm that deals with the coming of the Chief Shepherd of our souls; the King of Glory Himself, and there is much more to be said about it than what sits on the surface.
So let’s go in now, forgiving the preacher for his heavy-handed title, and listen to the voice, not of a man, but of the One exalted in this song of David.
THE RETURN OF THE KING FROM THE HOUSE OF OBED-EDOM –History
2 Sam 6:12-15, 1 Chron 15:25-28
Jewish tradition holds that this psalm was written in commemoration of the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. The Ark had been captured by the Philistines more than 100 years previously, then returned to Israelite control when misfortune began to befall the Philistines. Now that is a humorous story in itself, which we haven’t the time to pursue here, but since there was no place for the Ark in Jerusalem it was basically put in storage for many, many years, until David took control of Jerusalem and built a tent there so that tabernacle worship could resume and the Ark could be brought home.
There are a couple of places to go in Scripture to read about this.
1 Chronicles, chapters 13-15 give the detailed account, and 2 Samuel 6 is the shorter reading. Verses 12-15 there tell us:
“Now it was told King David, saying, “The LORD has blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, on account of the ark of God.” David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness. 13 And so it was, that when the bearers of the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. 14 And David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouting and the sound of the trumpet.”
Commentators tell us that this psalm would probably have been sung by soloists and choirs of people responding to one another.
The soloist, for example, might sing verses 1 and two, then the choir would respond with verse 3 as a question, then another voice would answer with verse 4 and the choir would then respond with verses 5 and 6, and so on.
What made this such a joyous occasion was that the Ark had always symbolized the presence of Jehovah with His people. In fact, when the Ark was in its rightful place in the Holy of Holies, the presence of the Lord was indeed present there with His people and to receive the offerings of incense and the blood of sacrifice from the High Priest, who came there representing the nation.
It is noteworthy that throughout the entire reign of King Saul, no thought was apparently given to the reinstitution of tabernacle worship or to bringing the Ark back to Jerusalem. Finally, King David, this man after God’s own heart, following a great victory by God’s own blessing and help against the Philistines, brings the Ark back to its rightful place, and there is much joy in the holy city as it comes in the gates, its very presence a portent of Jehovah’s further blessing and closeness to His people.