Enter the King of Glory

Scripture Reading

The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.

Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.

He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.

(Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6)

Scripture Study

24:1–2. This first stanza (recording perhaps the words of a Levite or a temple servant on seeing the approach of pilgrims) echoes Genesis 1:1–10: God is the lord of all things because he created them (cf. Ex 9:29; Deut 10:14) and he set the earth upon the seas (in line with ancient eastern cosmogony: cf. Job 38:4–6; Ps 104:5); yet, at the same time God has made himself accessible in the temple. St Paul appeals to the opening words of this psalm, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it”, to show that there are no unclean foods, contrary to the view of some Christians of Jewish bent (cf. 1 Cor 10:25–26). These words show that all created things are good.

24:3–6. These verses would have come from an entrance rite at the temple: to a question put by visitors (v. 3), a Levite or porter replies by stating the conditions to be met if one is to receive the Lord’s blessing there (vv. 4–5). Unlike Psalm 15, where there is mention only of proper respect for one’s neighbor (referred to in a condensed way here), there is the additional requirement about not worshipping idols (“what is false”: v. 4). Verse 6 may come from a reply made by incoming pilgrims—identifying themselves as worshippers of the God of Israel.[1]

Scripture Reflection

The three parts of the psalm concern the central elements of faith, life, and worship. The psalm gives the inhabitants of the world a confession with which we may acknowledge how the world came to exist and whose we are. Existence in the world is possible because of the existence of the world. The world exists because the will and the work of the LORD have prevailed against the chaos of nonexistence to bring forth a benevolent and life-sustaining order.

The psalm also announces that the LORD “comes” to us. The LORD stands at the door and knocks (Rev. 3:20). He has come to be present with us and for us. He comes as the victor who has prevailed against the chaos of unbeing and so is able to prevail against the chaos of evil. That is good news. Unless he were there for us with his blessing and righteousness, we would have nowhere to go to find help to sustain and set right our lives. Our existence depends on his creation; our blessing and righteousness depend on his coming.

This theme of advent has prompted the location and use of the psalm in the Christian year on the Sunday of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. On these occasions the psalm discloses the mystery of Mary’s child. The babe born in a stable is the king of glory. The man who enters the holy city only to be rejected and executed is the hidden king of glory. In him God comes to us and for us to bring blessing and righteousness.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 



[1] James Gavigan, Brian McCarthy, and Thomas McGovern, eds., Psalms and the Song of Solomon, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2003), 99–100.