PSALM 24—CHRIST IN HIS COMING BACK
Psalm 24 is one of the deepest of all the Psalms, and it is rather difficult to understand. It opens by saying, “The earth is the Lord’s.” Psalm 8 speaks of the excellence of the Lord’s name in all the earth. But this Psalm goes beyond that: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the habitable earth, and they that dwell therein.” This means that the Lord has the right, the title, to this earth. “For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the ocean currents.” He has established it, so it is His. Apparently, the earth today is not the Lord’s. Even when this Psalm was written the earth was apparently not the Lord’s. But have you realized that on this earth there was at least a hill, which was called the hill of His holiness, and at least that hill was His? Thus, verse 3 says, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?” The earth is the Lord’s, but actually today the earth is not the Lord’s. Yet on this earth there is at least a hill, at least a spot, which is the Lord’s.
Let me illustrate. Is Los Angeles today the Lord’s? No. But do you realize that today in Los Angeles there is a hill? Praise the Lord! In typology, Zion at that time was the hill. The hill of Zion was one hundred percent possessed by the Lord, though the entire earth was not. We may express it this way: the earth is the Lord’s, yet only the hill of Zion was actually possessed by the Lord. Likewise, Los Angeles is the Lord’s, but only the hill of the local church is possessed today by the Lord. Is California the Lord’s? No. But in California there are some hills, there are some local churches, and these places are possessed by the Lord.
Verse 3 asks, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?” The answer is, Christ and His brethren. The church is a hill which is occupied by the Lord today as the very stepping-stone, the beachhead, for the Lord to come back. The earth is the Lord’s, but today the earth is usurped; yet in this usurped earth there is a spot, a hill, which is the stepping-stone for the Lord to return to take the whole earth.
Verse 7: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye ancient doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” As the hill of Zion we must have our doors open that Christ may come. According to an article which I believe to be accurate, this Psalm was written at the occasion of David’s returning the ark to Zion. It was in that kind of situation, with that kind of background, that David wrote Psalm 24. Zion was there, and the gates and doors were there. Then David said, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye ancient doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” This is Christ. The ark was the type of Christ. The ark coming in typified Christ coming in.
In Revelation 3:20 the Lord said to the church in Laodicea, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.” This verse indicates that even some of the local churches shut the Lord Jesus outside. Do not imagine that as long as we are the local church, the Lord Jesus is among us. In a sense He is, but in another sense He may be shut out. Even today, while we are enjoying the Lord’s presence so much, we still must say, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye ancient doors.” We all must be so open to the Lord. If Christ could not come in to the church today in an adequate and fuller way, how could Christ come back to the earth? If the church, if Zion, is not absolutely open to Him, how can we expect the earth to be open to Him? So today we must respond and say, “Yes, open the doors, let us all open widely to Him. Come in, O come in, Lord! Before You come back to the earth, come in to the church, come in to fully possess this little hill, the hill of Zion.”
In the background of Psalm 24, the hill of Zion was there, but the ark was missing. Now the ark is coming in; Christ is coming in. And while the ark was entering, David said, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye ancient doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” We may be the hill of Zion, we may be the local church, but the King of glory is not so absolutely within. We need to be open, we need to be lifted up, to let the King of glory come in all the way. Then the church will be the stepping-stone, the beachhead, for the Lord to return and possess the earth.
In the latter part of King David’s life, he was chased out of Jerusalem by his rebellious son, Absalom. His kingdom was threatened; his place was usurped. But the Lord vindicated David, and after a short time Absalom perished. During that time David sent some to Jerusalem to prepare the way for his return. They became the stepping-stone for King David to come back (2 Sam. 15:25-29; 19:11-15). Today we are the ones sent by Christ into this rebellious, usurped world. We are here as the stepping-stone for His return to regain the earth. In this usurped world there is a hill as the very beachhead which the Lord must possess. If He can fully possess this area, He can return to take over the whole earth. This is the thought, the deep thought, of Psalm 24. Praise the Lord!
Now let us put all these three Psalms together. Psalm 22 tells us that Christ was put to death; He was crucified for our sake. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” We all must answer, “Lord, because of me, for my sake!” He suffered death to accomplish redemption for us. Then He was resurrected, and by His resurrection He brought so many brethren into being. These brethren became His flock, His church, His Body; and now He is shepherding this flock, He is caring for the church, He is building up His Body. For what purpose? That He may have a spot on this earth, a hill in this usurped earth, as a stepping-stone for Him to come back to regain the entire earth. At that time He will be the returning King. In Psalm 22 He is the Redeemer and Regenerator. In Psalm 23 He is the Shepherd; and in Psalm 24 He is the coming King, the King who will regain the entire earth through the people He is shepherding today. He died for us, and He was resurrected with us and made us His brethren that we may be His flock under His shepherding, that we may be His church under His building. Then through us, by us and with us, He will come back to be the King of glory. Could we have all this in the New Testament? We need the Psalms.
We may say that Psalms 22 through 24 tell us how Christ makes the saints to partake of Him. He does it by five steps: (1) By accomplishing redemption for them through His suffering death (Psa. 22:1-21); (2) By making them His brethren through His resurrection (Psa. 22:22-26); (3) By being preached to the uttermost part of the earth that all the people may turn to Him, worship Him, and serve Him (Psa. 22:27-31); (4) By being their Shepherd in the resurrection life, leading them to dwell in the house of God (Psa. 23); (5) By coming back to the earth to be the King of glory for them (Psa. 24). It is wonderful!
(Christ and the Church Revealed and Typified in the Psalms, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)