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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 24



Verse 1

Psalms 24.

God's lordship in the world. The citizens of his spiritual kingdom. An exhortation to receive him.

A Psalm of David.

Title. מזמור לדוד ledavid mizmor. David composed this psalm upon his bringing the ark of God to Mount Sion, where it continued till Solomon had built his temple. By this ascent of the ark of God to the place of his peculiar residence, Mount Sion, the ascension of our Lord into heaven was prefigured, and, by the interpretation of the Jews themselves, the seventh and following verses do prophetically relate to Christ. Dr. Hammond observes, that this psalm, from the composition of it, seems to have been contrived so as to be performed by two companies or choirs; the one answering to the other, pretty much like the usual way in our cathedrals. To strengthen his conjecture that this psalm was actually performed so, he observes, that, upon very solemn occasions, (and such was this,) it was usual for the Jews to separate themselves in that manner, and divide into two companies, or choirs, one standing on one side, and the other on the other. Thus, so long ago as Moses's time, six tribes went up to Mount Gerizim, and the other six tribes to Ebal, the opposite mountain; when, from one of these mountains the blessings were read, and from the other the curses of the law. Deuteronomy 27:12. And when Nehemiah set up the walls of Jerusalem, he says, Nehemiah 12:31. I appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks, whereof one went to the right hand (Nehemiah 12:38.), and the other company of them that gave thanks went over against them; and (Nehemiah 12:40.) so stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God. In like manner, probably, the two choirs might stand, one on one side of the tabernacle, and the other on the other side, at the solemn placing of the ark in Sion, and thus repeat this psalm. If we attend to the psalm itself, this conjecture becomes more probable; and it seems very well to account for the sudden repetition, Psalms 24:7; Psalms 24:9.

Psalms 24:1. The earth is the Lord's The Psalmist begins with a representation of God's dominion over this world in general, and his providential presence in every part of it. After which follows a declaration of his special presence in his tabernacle. St. Paul applies these words to Christ, 1 Corinthians 10:26; 1 Corinthians 10:28 as intimating, according to the prophetical sense, that all the earth was, under the gospel, to become the land of God; because God was then to be known, and Christ would plant his church throughout the whole earth; whereas, under the Mosaical dispensation, it was only Judea that was called his land.

Dr. Delaney, supposing this ode to be written upon the removal of the ark, imagines that this first verse was sung by the king, with a solemn and sonorous recitative; that the chorus was then divided, each singing in turn, and both joining in the close, For he hath founded it upon the seas, and prepared it upon the floods. Let this part of the music, says he, be supposed to have lasted till the procession reached the foot of the hill of Sion, or near it; then let the king be presumed to have stepped forth, and begun again in a sweet and solemn tone, Who shall ascend, &c. Psalms 24:2. Then the singers, first chorus, Even he that hath clean hands and a pure heart; second chorus, who hath not lift up, &c. to the end of the 6th verse: let this part of the music be supposed to have lasted till they reached the gates of the city, and then the king to have begun again, in that most sublime and heavenly strain, Lift up your heads, O ye gates, &c. which all repeated in chorus. Lifting up the head, is an image adapted to a portcullis, the head of which, as it is lifted, rises conspicuous above the gates. Mr. Johnson observes well, that everlasting doors means only, as to the first use of the psalm, doors made of very durable materials; but when applied to our Saviour's entering heaven, the word is to be taken in its most proper sense. The King of Glory signifies him who resided in the shechinah, or glory, over the ark, the symbol of the divine presence. The persons appointed to keep the gates, or perhaps the matrons of Jerusalem, meeting David here, as they did Saul upon his return from the conquest of the Philistines, 1 Samuel 18., may be supposed next to have sung, Who is the King of Glory? and the first and second chorus in turn, It is the Lord, strong and mighty, &c. And now let us suppose the instruments to take up the same airs, (the king, the princes, and the matrons moving to the measure) and continue with them to the gates of the court of the tabernacle; then let the king again begin, Lift up your heads, O ye gates, &c. and be followed and answered as before: all closing,—instruments sounding, chorus singing, people shouting,—He is the King of Glory. How others, says he, may think upon the point, I cannot say, nor pretend to prescribe; but for my own part, I have no notion of hearing, or of any man's having ever seen or heard, any thing so great, so solemn, so celestial, on this side the gates of heaven! Life of David, b. ii. c. 10.


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 24:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

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