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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
Preached At:Langley Canadian Reformed Church
 Langley, B.C.
Title:God Revealed as the Mighty and Majestic King of Glory
Text:Psalms 24 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 145:1-3
Hymn 62:3
Psalm 15
Psalm 24
Psalm 145:4 (after offertory)
Psalm 145:5

Reading & Text: Psalm 24
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of Christ,


Royalty demands to be taken seriously.  Just take the example of weddings in the royal family.  Not just any one can attend a royal wedding in person.  You need an invitation.  And when the royal bridal couple enters, it’s always accompanied by an extraordinary measure of fanfare.  So, on an earthly level we recognize that there’s something different about royalty, something that goes far beyond the every day experiences of the hoi polloi. 


If that’s true with earthly royalty, how much more so with Yahweh, the King of glory?  That’s what this psalm is about.  This Psalm is about impressing us with God’s transcendence, his glory that goes far beyond us.  Our thoughts of God are often too small and our grasp of his glory is too fleeting.  This Psalm comes to God’s people in every age and place and reminds them, reminds us that God is the mighty and majestic King of glory. 


We have three stanzas in this Psalm and you can see this reflected in our Bible translation and in the way it’s set up.  The first stanza consists of verses 1 and 2.  Here David draws our attention to the sovereign rule of Yahweh, the King of glory.


“The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”  Notice that LORD here is in all capital letters.  That means that this is Yahweh in Hebrew, God’s personal Name.  The earth belongs to Yahweh – it is his possession.  Not only the planet, but everything on it, and all who live on it.  Why?  Because he created it all.  Verse 2 sends our thoughts back to the first chapter of Genesis.  First the waters were set in place and then God caused dry ground to appear. 


Right from the start of this Psalm, God’s people are reminded that God is a king unlike any other.  Earthly kings may conquer a kingdom for themselves, but they never have and never will create a kingdom for themselves out of nothing.  This is only something that Yahweh has done.  And his kingdom encompasses absolutely everything.  He is not just a king in Israel, but a King over the entire globe. 


Notice the way this challenges human thinking about God.  In the ancient world, deities were always local deities.  There was never a thought that these local deities or gods were sovereign over the whole earth.  Babylon’s gods were for Babylon.  Egypt’s gods were for Egypt.  The gods of the Philistines were for the Philistines, and so on.  But here in Psalm 24, that whole notion is challenged and undermined.  Yahweh is the King of glory over the entire earth!


And this challenged ancient human thinking about God, but it also challenges ways of thinking about God in our day.  In our day, the thinking about God is often that this is a very personal matter.  You have your ideas about God and I have my ideas about God, and who knows who’s right?  A while back there was a news story about a minister in Ontario who was arguing that people should get rid of talking about God altogether.  She felt that what she calls God-talk is just too divisive and not helpful.  She believes we would be better off talking about love, mercy and kindness.  So, today instead of having Babylon’s gods for Babylon, we’ve reduced it to the individual level.  John’s god for John, Susan’s god for Susan, and so forth.  This Psalm challenges that thinking.  It does that by telling us that the earth and everything in it belongs to Yahweh.  He is the king over all the earth and as the King he has royal prerogatives.  He has the right to demand obedience.  He has the right to demand the acknowledgement of his rule.  God is not just a king for Christians, he is the king over all.  So, when we talk with unbelieving friends, neighbours, co-workers, whoever, let’s be careful that we never give any ground to this idea that there is no public objective truth about God, that everything in the realm of religion is purely subjective and individual.  We should be respectful of our unbelieving friends, but that doesn’t mean we give in to their ways of thinking about these sorts of things.   


The first stanza of this Psalm also challenges us on another level.  We’re reminded here that the earth belongs to Yahweh.  For the people of Israel, that was realized in all the different commands that God gave with respect to the land.  For instance, in Leviticus 25, we find that the people were to let agricultural land lie fallow during the Sabbath Year, once every seven years.  The land was to have a rest. 


As Christians, we also have the New Testament that informs our attitude to the earth and everything in it.  We discover in Romans 8 that the redemption of Christ also has something to do with the entire earth.  Christ is concerned with delivering not only his people, but also his creation from the bondage of corruption.  As believers who are united to Christ by faith, this Psalm leads us to that important concept of stewardship.  It all belongs to God, but it has been entrusted to us for our care and management.  I’m not going to go into all the details of what that looks like, but I just ask you to note the basic principle:  the earth and everything in it belongs to Yahweh, it is included in the redemptive work of Christ, therefore we are to manage it well and take care of it. 


As we come to the second stanza, we encounter a question.  A similar question is posed by Psalm 15.  In that Psalm, the question was with respect to who can permanently live in God’s presence, in his sanctuary, on his holy hill.  Here the question is:  who may ascend the hill of Yahweh, who can climb Mount Zion and stand in the holy place?  The holy place here bears some further reflection.  The tabernacle and the temple consisted of three main portions.  Starting from the outside, there were the inner courts where you could find the altar of burnt offering and the bronze laver.  Any Israelite could enter these courts and bring an offering for Yahweh.  Then there was a tent or building in the center where you would find the two other portions.  In the most restricted area was the Holy of holies or Most Holy Place.  Only the High Priest could enter there and only once per year, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  But there was a less restricted area known as the holy place.  Priests would enter there on a daily basis, but the regular Israelites could not.  The holy place was only for the priests.  There they would tend to the altar of incense, to the table of showbread, and the golden lampstand. 


So, when David asks the question of who may stand in Yahweh’s holy place, the expected answer would be:  the Levitical priests!  Of course, they’re the ones who have been appointed by God for this service.  But the answer of this Psalm is something different, something surprising. 


Verse 4 says that admission to the holy place depends on four things.  First of all, one has to have clean hands.  This refers to pureness and cleanliness in one’s actions.  The person who would come into God’s presence has to be walking in a holy way, living according to his law. 


Second, he must have a pure heart.  The external actions are often easy enough, it’s the heart that’s hard to tame.  A pure heart refers to having a steadfast spirit, a soul set entirely on serving God, not turning to the right hand or to the left.  The person who would come into the presence of the King of glory has to be entirely motivated by holy attitudes, his life directed by a holy will, he must love only that which God loves.


Next, we find that he does not lift up his soul to an idol.  Literally, the Hebrew says that he does not lift up his soul to vanity.  Notice again that this has to do with what goes on in the heart, in the interior life of a person.  We would never prostrate ourselves before the Allah of the Muslims.  We would never worship Hindu gods.  But there are plenty of other idols that reside in our hearts: money, material things, sex, vanity, food, alcohol, gambling, other people – I could go on and on.  Someone once rightly said that we are idol factories.  But the person who would come into the palace of the King of glory has no such factory within him.  The idol factory is idle, abandoned, shut down for good.


Finally, the one who comes before Yahweh does not swear by what is false.  In other words, he loves the truth and speaks the truth in every circumstance of his life.  There is no falsehood in him.  The person who would come into the King’s house must be a truth-speaker. 


Being such a person, and being welcomed into God’s house, he will receive blessing from Yahweh.  Yahweh will look upon him with favour and gift him with good things.  Not only that, but he also receives vindication or righteousness from the God who saves him.  The people who seek the God of Jacob, who follow him, this is what they look like, according to David.


But all of this raises a question.  When we go through the admission standards for this holy place of Yahweh, are you thinking that this is easy?  That we can do this?  Quite frankly, if you’re thinking that, please think again.  The standards go to what we do, think and say.  They go to the externals, but more importantly, to what lives inside us.  Who can claim to have clean hands and a pure heart?  Who can claim that she doesn’t have a busy little idol factory inside her?  Who can claim that he loves the truth consistently and that there is no falsehood in him?  I can’t and I don’t think you can either.


The priests before, during and after the days of David couldn’t make these claims either.  When I mentioned the temple and tabernacle a moment ago, I mentioned that there was a bronze laver in the courts.  This is also sometimes called the bronze basin.  It was essentially a giant tub of water.  In Exodus 30 we read that the priests had to wash themselves at the bronze laver before entering the holy place.  If they did not, they would surely die.  Even the holiest priest had to wash himself.  Moreover, burnt offerings had to be made, not only for the people, but also for the priests.  Without washing and without sacrifice, they could not stand in the holy place of Yahweh.  They could not receive blessings and vindication.


Loved ones, those washings and sacrifices all pointed ahead to Jesus Christ and his redeeming work.  We are washed and cleansed with his blood.  His sacrifice of atonement has been made for us.  He lived a perfect life for us and in our place and we are united to him through faith.  He has clean hands and a pure heart.  Jesus Christ does not lift up his soul to idols.  Jesus Christ never swears by what is false, rather he is the truth incarnate.  Looking to him in faith, you are joined, united to him.  What is true of him becomes true of you.  As God looks at you with your faith fixed on Christ, he sees people who have clean hands and a pure heart.  He sees people whose idol factories are shut down and who love the truth and never communicate with falsehood.  He opens the doors of his holy place!  In fact, he makes his holy place within you and there you may stand.  Yes, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit, looking to Christ in faith, you are standing in the holy place.  You will be blessed and you will receive vindication from God your Saviour.


Our response to all that is then also outlined here in this stanza of Psalm 24.  Because we’re united to Christ and we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the holy place of Yahweh, we will, we must endeavour to have clean hands and a pure heart.  Because God is our Saviour through Jesus Christ, the idol factory that’s closed in principle must also become closed in practice.  We have to wage a holy war on our idols.  Because God has blessed us so richly in Christ who is the truth, we must love the truth, confess it, and speak with honesty and integrity.  That’s what the lives of believers begin to look like, the lives of those who seek the face of the God of Jacob.  They begin to look like that now, and when the day of their glorification arrives, they will perfectly look like that, they will stand in God’s holy place in perfection.   


That brings us to the last stanza, a glorious portrayal of God’s entrance into his holy place.  David calls out for the gates to lift up their heads, for the ancient doors to be lifted up.  This call goes out, not just once but twice.  The repetition drives home the emphatic and joyful character of this call.  Where we would put bold, italics, underlined, 14 pt. font, the Hebrew poets put repetition.       


“Lift up your heads, O you gates”  -- this is a figure of speech where the gates are personified, they’re called upon to give honour and praise to Yahweh.  Yahweh is the King of glory waiting to come in.  Now, why is he called the King of glory?  Because, as verse 8 puts it, he is strong and mighty, mighty in battle.  He is victorious over all his enemies.  Not only does his kingdom stretch over all the earth, but there is no one who can stand up against him.  The word “glory” literally means that he is weighty, he is to be taken very seriously.  God is not a light-weight King.  He is a mighty warrior and he has a mighty army behind him.  In verse 10, the NIV says that he is the LORD Almighty.  Literally, the Hebrew reads that he is Yahweh Sabaoth, Yahweh of Hosts, Yahweh who has mighty armies behind him and in his service.


These words are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  He is often portrayed in the New Testament as the Divine Warrior-King.  For instance, in Revelation 1:16, John sees him as one who has a sharp double-edged sword coming out of his mouth.  In Revelation 5:5, he is the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  And in Revelation 19, we see all these images come to a climax.  One whose name is the Word of God is judging with justice and making war.  There Christ is the King of glory, King of kings and Lord of lords, treading the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God almighty.  If you want to see Yahweh the King of glory, mighty in battle, read the last book of the Bible!


In Jesus Christ, God has the victory over sin and death.  He has conquered the curse of sin, he is conquering the power of sin in our lives with his Word and Spirit.  Not only that, but he promises to bring his victory to completion.  Some of you still remember how the Second World War came to an end.  First of all, there was a D-Day, Decision Day.  That was the day that the Allies came across the English channel and stormed the beaches of Normandy.  On that day, victory was sealed for the Allied forces in Europe.  That happened on June 6, 1944.  But V-Day, Victory Day, didn’t come until May of 1945.  The war had been decided on June 6, 1944, but victory wasn’t a reality until the following year.  So it is with Christ and his victory.  D-Day has come and gone.  D-Day was Good Friday at Golgotha.  But V-Day is coming and come it will.  At the last day, Christ will have the complete victory, it’s guaranteed, it was decided 2000 years ago at the cross.  Yahweh is mighty in battle and always victorious! 


Now what is our response to be to this?  Loved ones, just soak it in.  Just revel and delight in your God.  Be impressed with him and his works.  He is Yahweh, a mighty king of majestic glory.  Think about all his mighty victories in Scripture.  Think of him, the one who defeated the Midianites with a mere three hundred men under the leadership of Gideon.  Think of him, the one who sent a random arrow into the chest of the disguised Ahab.  Think of him, the one who struck the Arameans with blindness in the days of Elisha.  Your God, Yahweh strong and mighty, Yahweh mighty in battle.  Your God who has crushed the head of the serpent at the cross of Jesus Christ, who is victorious for you.  


Now I think you can see it clearly, no earthly royalty can compare to our God.  Psalm 24 lays it clearly before our eyes.  We serve a King who owns the world, who allows us into his presence, who is victorious in battle.  There is none like him.


Let us pray:


Yahweh of hosts, O King of glory,


You are the One who is strong and mighty, mighty in battle.  You are the one to whom everything belongs and to whom everyone owes obedience.  There is none like you and we thank you for this Psalm which again draws our hearts upwards in contemplation of you.  Help us with your Word to know you rightly.  We thank you also for how this Psalm witnesses to us about what you have done for us in Christ.  Thank you for his victory over sin and death.  Thank you for his holiness, his perfect obedience.  Thank you that through him we can come into your presence, that you make your home with us through your Holy Spirit.  Father, we deserve nothing and we have received everything.  Help us to recognize how richly we are blessed and to respond accordingly.  Help us to love you and thank you with how we take care of your creation.  Help us to love you and thank you by pursuing holiness in our deeds, our hearts, and our communication.  Please help us in all this with your Holy Spirit.  We pray through Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, AMEN.         

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

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