The Ascent of the King of Glory.
An Exposition of Psalm xxiv.
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."
In allusion to the time when the earth was covered with water, God said, "Let the waters be gathered together," and they were so. And the gathering together of the waters called He seas, and let the dry land appear. It was then as if He had founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods.
3. "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place?"
There was a special place on the earth which God chose for Himself—"the hill of Zion." The earth is the Lord’s, but there is a part of the earth which is peculiarly His. Who shall ascend into that place? On Mount Sinai, no one could ascend with Moses. If a beast touched the mountain, he was stoned, or pierced through with a dart. "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of His saints." He is a holy God, and only holiness can approach Him. Light has communion with light, truth with truth, holiness with holiness. "Be ye holy, for I am holy." "Who shall ascend?" Not everybody. "Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.
4. "He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully."
Here you have holiness. Clean without and clean within; sanctified, spirit, soul, and body. "Lift up holy hands," says Paul. Hands clean, and heart pure. "I will wash my hands in innocency, and so will I compass thine altar, O Lord of Hosts." "Who hath not lifted up his soul to vanity"—hath not worshipped the creature. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart," &c. "Hear, O Israel: the Lord thy God is one Lord," &c. If there be any division of heart, there is, so far, a defect in holiness. Everything, beside God, which is an object of worship is vanity. "Nor sworn deceitfully." Not made a false vow or made a promise without keeping it.
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 God of Jacob."
All the saints of God seek Him. All the saints of God aspire to stand in His holy place, to ascend into His holy hill; and all the saints of God are holy in principle, and desire to be holy in practice. Then we have a wonderful proclamation, which seems very abrupt, but which is closely connected with what precedes.
7. "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in."
We cannot get up to the holy hill of God as we can walk on a plain. We have to make an ascent, and, when made, there are gates. These gates don’t open with hinges. "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and the King of Glory shall come in." He is the only one that is fit to go in. But how came the King of Glory outside? George Herbert says:
"Hast thou not heard how my Lord Jesus died?
Then let me tell thee a strange story.
The God of power, as He did ride
In His majestic robes of glory,
Resolved to ’light, and so one day
He did descend, undressing all the way.
"The stars His tire of light, and rings obtained,
The cloud His bow, the fire His spear,
The sky His azure mantle gained.
And when they asked what He would wear,
He smiled, and said, as He did go,
He had new clothes a-making here below."
"When Thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man, Thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb."
His clothing was humanity. He divested Himself of His glory and came down here to be clothed with humanity. But being found outside, in this earth, He must find entrance again. How? On the ground of His own merits. He is the only One who could present clean hands, and a pure heart. And therefore, when He arose from the dead, He went, not to the literal hill of God, but to the Heaven of heavens, the anti-type of the hill of Zion.
The angels who escorted Him shouted, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in." That man Jesus Christ, that lowly man, was in truth, the King of Glory. The angels knew it and demanded admission on the ground of His perfections.
But there is a response within the gates—"Who is this King of Glory?" He has conquered in the fight with our enemies. Don’t you remember that passage in Isaiah? He is called there "the mighty God." He is the One who has obtained victory for us in the battle against sin and Satan. He stooped to conquer; His death was the death of Death. He was strong and mighty, as He proved Himself to be by the resurrection.
But still there is a delay, notwithstanding His claim.
The escort says again, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates."
But was there an escort? Oh, yes. When He ascended, two of them remained behind to comfort the disciples. But there was an infinite number who were not seen.
A second time comes the question, "Who is this King of Glory?" "The Lord of Hosts." There cannot be a mightier title than this title of that man Christ Jesus. Oh, how wonderful! He is the King of Glory. Compare with this, Philippians, chap. ii: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being [or, rather, subsisting] in the form of God," did not grasp at that equality which He had eternally with the Father, but He emptied Himself. How? By taking upon Himself the form of a servant. He became the Servant of His Father, not of man, as is sometimes erroneously supposed. Of course, He served man, but He was not in the position of a slave—one who was bound to serve his master.
"Being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself." That is more than emptying Himself. He became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.
Now what is the recompense for that? "Wherefore God also," &c., &c., "that IN (not AT) the name of Jesus." "At" is a monstrous mistranslation. And yet, what hundreds of thousands go on bowing "at" the name of Jesus, because of this mistranslation! It should be "in the name." That is, there should be no worship except through Him. "And every tongue confess," &c.; which is equivalent to this, that on account of His voluntary humiliation, He claims admission to Heaven, and receives the titles "King of Glory" and "Lord of Hosts."
"Footsteps of Truth" 1887.