“Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting 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. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:7-10)
I’m writing this on September 19, after watching the funeral for Queen Elizabeth II. It’s fascinating to watch all the pomp and ceremony for the longest-reigning monarch in England. One can only imagine the far greater pomp and celebration that will accompany the coronation of King Charles III.
With that imagery in mind, the reality of Psalm 24 is all the more striking and wonderful. This Psalm calls upon the gates of Jerusalem to lift up their heads to let The King of Glory enter and begin His reign. The people ask with anticipation and excitement, “Who is this King of Glory?” (verse 8) The answer indicates power and great pomp: “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” (verse 8) Again the question and the answer rings through the streets: “The Lord of hosts [armies], He is the King of Glory.” (verse 10)
What grand procession would you expect as the Lord, Jehovah Himself, enters the royal city?
You look for yourself, and what do you see? A tiny baby in the most lowly place, wrapped in swaddling cloths. Behold, look closely, this is your King of Glory! This is the Mighty One who fights for you to defeat the fierce enemies of mankind: Satan and all his demons, sin and corruption, death, and hell itself.
Who would expect the King of Glory to look like this? Who would expect the King of Glory to live a life of lowliness and humility with nowhere even to lay His head, and to die an ignominious death on the cross? Yet that is where we see His true glory—not in lavish robes, scepters, and crowns. No, His glory is seen in His service to His creation.
The opening verses of this Psalm describe Him: “ The earth is the Lord’s , and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters.” (Psalm 24:1-2) He possesses and rules the entire universe He made, far above all other monarchs. Truly He is the King of all other kings!
Then comes the tragic reality: “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord ? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.” (Psalm 24:3-4) We have just been left out. We cannot ascend God ’ s holy hill to view His glory or worship before Him. None of us have clean hands; they are filthy with sin. We certainly do not have a pure heart without evil thoughts and intentions. We are sinners through and through. Yet we see the King of Glory in the manger. He has come to take our place. Throughout His lowly life of trial and hardship, even in His bitter suffering and death, Jesus kept h is hands clean and His heart one hundred percent pure of even the slightest thought of sin. Jesus ascends the hill of the Lord into the presence of God, and the beautiful thing is, He takes us along. He cleanses our hands and purifies our hearts with His own perfection so we can enter into His presence to worship. As you look into the manger once again this Christmas, behold your King of Glory. Rejoice and worship Him with all your heart!
1. Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates! Behold, the King of Glory waits; The King of kings is drawing near, The Savior of the world is here. Life and salvation He doth bring, Wherefore rejoice and gladly sing: We praise Thee, Father, now, Creator, wise art Thou! 4. Fling wide the portals of your heart; Make it a temple set apart From earthly use for Heaven's employ, Adorned with prayer and love and joy. So shall your Sovereign enter in And new and nobler life begin. To Thee, O God, be praise For word and deed and grace! (TLH 73:1, 4)