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Monday, May 27th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 24

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & PsalmsHengstenberg's Commentary

Introduction

Psalms 24

Most interpreters suppose that the Psalm was composed by David at the time when he brought the ark of the covenant to Mount Zion. Compare 2 Samuel 6:1; 1 Chronicles 15 Chron. 15. Several Jewish interpreters, on the other hand, to whom Stier may be added, have supposed that David composed this Psalm for future use, at the dedication of the temple, after he had received the revelation as to its site. De Wette has proposed an extension of this idea, viz. that the Psalm was composed at the dedication of the new temple under Solomon. But against this view, and in favour of the one first mentioned, the following weighty reasons may be urged:—1. The superscription assigns the Psalm to David. 2. If the Psalm be supposed to have reference to the dedication of the temple under Solomon, by the everlasting gates we can understand nothing else than the gates of the temple, for into none other did the ark of the covenant at that time enter. But the gates of the newly built temple could not possibly be called everlasting gates. It is only an evasion to suppose that the everlasting refers to the future continuance of the gates. But no one would apply, simpliciter, the term everlasting to new gates which it was hoped would last for ever; the hope of everlasting endurance which Solomon ( 1 Kings 8:13) expresses in reference to the whole temple, cannot be thus simpliciter referred to any particular part of it; the connection requires that the predicate denote an already existing, a generally acknowledged excellence. As soon, however, as we refer the Psalm to the entrance of the ark of the covenant under David, every difficulty vanishes. The gates are then those of Mount Zion. These might correctly be called ancient; for Jerusalem, with its strong Mount Zion, was already in the time of Abraham a city of the Canaanites. With the Psalmist, however, whose object it was to extol the worth of the gates, for the purpose of enhancing the glory of the entrant, of whom, after all, the gates were unworthy, the idea of antiquity would easily expand in feeling into that of eternity. 3. In the appellations given to God, the Lord strong and a hero, the Lord a warlike hero, we clearly discern the voice of the warrior and the conqueror, David, who had so often, in the heat of battle, sought and obtained help from the Lord. Solomon would have chosen some other mode of expression, inasmuch as God had stood prominently forth on his behalf under other aspects. 4. The (Psalms 15) fifteenth Psalm is so strikingly allied to the one before us, that the grounds which were there sufficient to establish, without a doubt, the authorship as that of David, particularly the expression, “in Thy tabernacle,” are of equal weight here. The (Psalms 19) nineteenth Psalm also, which was composed by David, is allied to the one before us. There, as here, the greatness of God, as the Lord of the world, serves in the introduction only as the groundwork of what forms the peculiar object of the Psalmist. Lastly, the idea, that this Psalm is to be considered as a song of victory for the return of the ark of the covenant from a battle, is to be utterly rejected. This view would scarcely harmonize even with the second part; for there the language employed refers to the coming, not to the returning of the Lord; and the call to the gates to open, proceeds on the supposition that the Lord is entering in through them for the first time, and appears unsuitableif He had frequently gone out and in on former occasions. But the first part is wholly unintelligible on this supposition. The question, Who will ascend to the hill of the Lord, and who will stand in his holy place? would, on such an occasion, be altogether out of place; while, on the occasion which we have supposed, it would be highly suitable. It served at the commencement of a new state of things to determine the nature thereof, and to bring it before the minds of the people; it served to furnish a counterpoise to the outward pomp which accompanied the bringing in of the ark of the covenant; it served to indicate that real, not mere outward, fellowship with a God such as this, the Lord of the whole earth, and participation in His blessings, are to be obtained only in one way, that of true righteousness; it served to indicate to the people the high seriousness of the claims upon the subjects, as seen in connection with the glory of the King who is entering in. This Psalm, which, according to Psalms 24:7-10, must have been sung at the entrance itself, is the first, in point of date, of the sacred songs which were composed with this view. The fifteenth followed at a later period.

The contents are as follows: Jehovah is God in the full sense, the Lord, because the Creator, of the whole earth, Psalms 24:1-2. Who then will, in truth, ascend the hill of the Lord, and stand in His holy place? Who will dwell spiritually beside Him, in the newly-erected holy place, and receive from Him blessing, salvation, and righteousness? Not the posterity of Jacob according to the flesh, as such,—this would be a wretched family for such a King and God,—but only he who, in thought, word, and deed, is pure and without spot. It is only those, who bear this character, that constitute Jacob,—the true people of the Lord,—and not the rude crowd who falsely make their boast of this name, Psalms 24:3-6. The ark of the covenant has now approached the gates. These, poetically personified, are commanded to open, that the glorious King, that the Lord, rich in help for His people, that the God of the world, may enter in, Psalms 24:7-10.

Ewald has advanced the hypothesis, that the Psalm is made up of two odes originally distinct, Psalms 24:1-6, and Psalms 24:7-10. But the chief reason which led him to adopt this hypothesis, namely, the want of connection and unity between the two parts, disappears entirely on closer investigation. The glory of the approaching Lord is, in both parts of the Psalm, the fundamental idea. From this proceeds, in the first part, the demand for holiness, and, in the second, the command, addressed in form to the gates, but in reality to the hearts of His people, to open. The original connection of the two parts with each other is seen in this, that the Psalm concludes, as it began, with the praise of God as the God of the whole earth; and assuredly therefore in this, that the beginning and the conclusion mutually supplement each other

Psalms 24:1, Jehovah, the Lord of the whole earth, in Psalms 24:10, Jehovah, the Lord of the heavenly hosts.

The coming of the Lord of glory, the high demands upon His people originating therein, the absolute necessity to prepare worthily for His arrival, form the subject-matter of the Psalm. It admits of applications far beyond the special occasion which called it forth. The Lord may be conceived of as constantly coming, in relation both to His Church collectively, and to His people individually. And His people therefore ought to be continually preparing to give Him a suitable reception. Hence it follows that the Messianic interpretation, which in former times was so very prevalent, has an important element of truth in it. The coming of God to His kingdom took place in a manner infinitely more real at the appearance of Christ than it did at the entrance of the ark of the covenant. That lower occurrence was only the shadow, but the body was in Christ. At this truly real coming, which has different gradations,—the coming in humility, the coming in spirit, and the coming in glory,—the demands rise in proportion to the greater reality. The question, “Who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord, and who shall stand in His holy place?” becomes more solemn, and the command, “Lift up your heads, ye gates,” is given in a louder tone.

Venema saw clearly that the idea, that the Psalm was sung by alternate choruses, is altogether without foundation. The questions ( Psalms 24:7-10), on which alone this idea rests, like the question in Psalms 24:3, and in Psalms 15:1, are to be considered simply as interrogatory clauses.

The reason why this Psalm has been placed in immediate juxtaposition to the (Psalms 23) 23d, will appear on comparing Psalms 24:3 here, with Psalms 23:6 there. The (Psalms 23) 23d Psalm concludes with the hope of dwelling for ever in the house of the Lord, and the Psalm before us begins, after some clauses of a preparatory and introductory nature, with the question, “Who is qualified to dwell with God on His hill, and in His holy place?” The connection between the two Psalms is so interwoven with the sense, that their juxtaposition cannot be attributed to the collector. The probability is exceedingly strong, that David, from the beginning, united them as one pair; and that the (Psalms 23) 23d Psalm also was composed on the occasion of the removal of the ark of the covenant. For the purpose of preventing the hypocrites from appropriating to their use what does not belong to them, he follows up his expression of inward confidence in God, with a representation of those demands of a moral nature which God makes upon His people. The Shepherd of Israel is also the Almighty God. Wo to him who trusts in His grace without being holy as He is holy! We have already shown that the (Psalms 15) 15th Psalm, which is closely allied to the one before us, stands in a similar relation to the (Psalms 14) 14th.

Verse 1

Ver. 1. The earth, is the Lord’s, and that which fills it; the world, and those who dwell upon it. The God who is in a peculiar sense the God of Israel, is at the same time the Lord of the whole earth, and the sovereign proprietor of all things. With what holy reverence must the subjects of such a King be filled! What high demands must be made upon them! With other gods there may be an animal love and a favouritism for their own worshippers, without regard to their hearts and lives; but the God of Israel,—who is God in the true sense of the word,—cannot, without absurdity, be spoken of as having connection with any except with such as are of a pure heart. The exhortation in Deuteronomy 10:14, to circumcise the heart, is, like the one before us, enforced by the consideration, that Jehovah is the Lord of heaven and earth, and that He regardeth not persons, nor taketh rewards. ארץ denotes the earth in general; תבל , properly, the bearing,—the third Fut. of יבל , it bears,—the fruit-bearing part of the earth, the οἰ?κουμέ?νη . Hence the fulness is properly applied to the earth, and the inhabitants specially to תבל .

Verse 2

Ver. 2. For He has founded it above the seas, and made it fast above the floods. That the earth, with all that fills it, and with its inhabitants, is the Lord’s, is founded on the fact, that He alone has made it earth,—dry, fruitful, habitable, and that He preserves it such. Without Him, the waters would still or again cover it as they did at the beginning. “Above the seas,” “above the floods,” imply that it stands at a higher level, so that it is not immersed below the sea. Compare the examples of על in similar connections in Ges. Thes. p. 1026. Many expositors apply “the seas,” and “the floods,” to the great subterraneous cavities which stand in connection with the mundane sea,—to the great deep, which, according to Genesis 7:11, was broken up at the deluge. “Nothing but the almighty power of God could found the earth on such weak materials.” But these interpreters overlook, that at Psalms 24:1 it is only the inhabited and cultivated earth that is spoken of; and, consequently, that it can only be such an act of God as has made and preserves the earth fruitful and habitable, that can be referred to here: the earth, with its fulness and its inhabitants, belongs to the Lord; for He has made it habitable and fruitful, and He preserves it in this condition. The reference to an occult doctrine of a physical character, to which allusion is made only in one single passage of Scripture, and that, too, in a very obscure and doubtful manner, would not be at all suitable in this passage. The Psalmist evidently refers to some act of God, generally known, and frequently spoken of in Scripture. Further, it may be objected to this view, that ימים is seas, and נהרות , floods; and that, though the singular My might denote the subterraneous water, the plural, as even Luther observed, cannot. Finally, it will not do to tear the passage from its connection with the fundamental passage, Genesis 1:9, Genesis 1:11, to which it manifestly refers, and from the parallel passages, Psalms 136:6, “Who stretches out the earth above the waters,” where everything preceding and following stands in obvious reference to Genesis 1; Psalms 106, where, in like manner, the dividing between the land and the sea comes in, in exact accordance with Genesis and Job 38:8, where it is mentioned as one of the most wonderful works of God, that “He hath set for the sea bars and doors, and path shut it in within firm bounds.” These observations will, we think, be sufficient to set aside for ever the idea of the subterranean waters.

The change of the mood is not unworthy of notice: יסדה , refers to the creation, יכוננה to the preservation. Luther: “For it proceeds from the great power of God, that those cities and countries which are situated on seas and rivers, are not destroyed and torn to pieces.” He has founded it above the seas and floods, and He keeps it fast above them.

Verse 3

Ver. 3. Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord, and who shall abide in His holy place? This question has for its foundation the statements of Psalms 24:1 and Psalms 24:2, and the sense is correctly given by several interpreters: “Who, then, shall ascend?” “Is the Lord such a mighty One?” “Who, then, can well be admitted into His holy and glorious presence?” The common translation is, Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? who is worthy to do so? But, on comparing Psalms 15, it becomes obvious that we must keep to the usual sense of the Future. Zion is not for all the hill of the Lord; the temple is not for all His holy place. To Zion, to the outward temple, all might get who had good legs; but to the hill of the Lord, to His holy place, as sure as He is Lord of the whole earth, none get except those who are of a pure heart. These dwell there, always with Him, even when, in a bodily sense, they are absent. On the other hand, the ungodly, even though they can boast of being the seed of Abraham, even though they are indefatigable in their observance of the ceremonies, are, even when present, nevertheless absent:—they walk only on the earth and the stones; God shuts them out from His holy presence. That we must interpret the passage in this way, and that the ascending of the hill of the Lord, and the standing in His holy place, are only figurative expressions of gracious relationship to Him (Mich.: “As a true member of the holy Church, and a denizen of His kingdom”), is evident from the parallel, Psalms 24:5. The “Who shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation,” is expository of, “Who shall ascend?” To ascend the hill of God, is to begin to walk with God; to abide in His holy place, is constantly to remain in His presence. קום is not, “to stand” (that is עמד the passages which Gesenius adduces to prove this are not sufficient)—but “to abide.”

Luther “To this question the haughty self-righteous return answer at once, We, we are worthy, especially the Jews. For from the beginning of the world there have been two kinds of those who profess to be seeking after God; yea, there still are, and there will be till the end of time. The first are those who serve God without heart, without grace, without spirit, and only by external works, ordinances, sacrifices, and ceremonies. Thus Cain offered his gift, but kept back his heart and his person.” The design of the Psalmist, however, is to repel hypocrites, and to bring self-deceivers to serious thought, while he answers the above question, by declaring, that as sure as the God of Israel is the God of the whole earth, is God in the true and full sense of the word, so sure can only the pure in heart and conduct stand before Him. Luther, in the style of true theological exposition: “It is not he who sings so well or so many Psalms, nor he who fasts and watches so many days, nor he who divides his property among the poor, nor he who preaches to others, nor he who lives quietly, kindly, and friendly; nor, in fine, is it he who knows all sciences and all languages, nor he who works all virtuous and all good works that ever any man spoke or read of; but it is he alone who is pure within and without.”

Verses 4-5

Ver. 4. He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who draws not his soul unto falsehood, nor swears deceitfully, ver. 5. He shall draw the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from God his Saviour. The import is this: he, and he only, shall ascend the holy hill of the Lord, and abide in His holy place:—this is what is meant by, shall draw the blessing, etc.

The Psalmist unites cleanness of hands and purity of heart. The hands are the instruments of action, the heart the seat of feeling. God’s demands upon His people go beyond the domain of action. Those only see Him (and that is altogether the same as what is implied here, in ascending the hill of the Lord, and abiding in His holy place) who have a pure heart. The Psalmist in the first clause ascends from outward deeds to the heart, and in the second he descends from the heart to the tongue,— he who shuns sin in thought, word, and deed. We have here the same threefold division which obtains in the decalogue: deed, “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” “Thou shalt not steal;” word, “Thou shalt not bear false witness;” thought, “Thou shalt not covet.” But the heart is put here in the second place, for the purpose of showing that everything ultimately is dependent on it—that purity of hands and tongue has its root in purity of heart, and is important only in so far as it is rooted there. The expression נשא is not of rare occurrence: it occurs, for example, Deuteronomy 24:15; Proverbs 19:18; Psalms 25:1, Psalms 86:4, Psalms 143:8, with this difference, that it is construed in these passages with אל , and here with ל . The construction with ל here is of importance for determining the signification of the phrase. The common translation is, “to lift up the soul.” But for this sense the ל is not suitable. We cannot say, “to lift up his soul to falsehood.” ל rather demands the signification, to carry, to carry to,—“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also;” and on comparing Exodus 20:7 and the ישא in Psalms 24:5, it is evident that this is the true rendering of our passage,— he who does not bear his soul to falsehood, he shall bear away; and at the same time in all other passages. Several interpreters render שוא by “vanity” or “wickedness:” Meyer, “bad ways;” Stier, “everything which the heart makes an idol of instead of the true God;” and some, “idols,” in the proper sense. But if we observe the relation in which לשוא stands to למרמה , it will appear obvious that we can only translate, “to falsehood and deceit.” This translation also will be at once recognised as the correct one from Exodus 20:7: “Who hath no love for falsehood and deceit, and who, in consequence of this, does not swear deceitfully.”

After the example of Stange, many interpreters render, “who does not utter his person to a lie,” that is, “who does not misuse the name of God to confirm a lie,” and refer to Exodus 20:7, תשא את שם יהוה אלהיך לשוא לא , which they render, “Thou shalt not utter the name of the Lord thy God to confirm a lie.” But this interpretation depends upon the marginal reading, נפשי , my soul, which is decidedly to be rejected, as God is not introduced speaking throughout the whole Psalm. It is now, therefore, very easy to dispose of this view; and, on the other side, it may be observed that the soul of the Lord cannot stand for His person, nor this for His name; the phrase נשא נפש has constantly the sense of, “to carry the soul:” נשא here, from the ישא in Psalms 24:5, must signify, “to carry,” and never signifies, “to utter” (compare on Psalms 15:3); the connection between נפשו and לבב , and the obvious opposition between the soul and the tongue, render it impossible to refer נפשו to God. It is now more the time to point out the truth from which the false reading and exposition have proceeded. This is the position, that the words before us have a reference to Exodus 20:7. The resemblance is so striking, that any exposition which would tear asunder the connection between the two, cannot possibly be the correct one. According to our interpretation, however, this connection becomes most manifest as soon as the passage in Exodus is correctly translated. It must be translated, “Thou shalt not bear away the name of the Lord to a lie;” i.e. Thou shalt not mix up His name with what is false; thou shalt not utter it to confirm a lie. The Psalmist, by the verbal reference which he makes to this passage, indicates that this bearing of one’s soul to a lie—the having a pleasure in it—is the ground and fountain of bearing God’s name to a lie, and that this last sin is the natural consequence of the first. The only sure preservative against the fearful sin of perjury, is heart-abhorrence of deceit and falsehood.

In Psalms 24:5, he shall carry away the blessing, we may find, with Amyrald, a contradiction of the idea, that there is efficacy in the priestly and the royal benediction, apart from the moral condition of those upon whom that blessing was pronounced. When the ark of the covenant was brought in, David blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts ( 2 Samuel 6:18). The righteousness, parallel with the blessing, is the blessing itself, inasmuch as it is the clearing up of the character by facts, the answer of God to the subjective righteousness of the worshipper: compare 1 Kings 8:31-32. This righteousness, as the gift of God, is carefully to be distinguished from justification. The justification of a sinner before God goes before holiness; the righteousness here spoken of follows it. Finally, the purity which the Psalmist here speaks of as the indispensable condition of salvation, is not to be understood as a perfect, spotless holiness. It is enough that the innermost intent of the soul—the spiritual eye of Matthew 6:23—be pure. But, assuredly, as the condition of salvation is always imperfect in this life, so is the salvation itself in like manner imperfect.

Verse 6

Ver. 6. This is the generation which reverences Him: they who seek thy face, are Jacob. The Psalmist having defined those to whom access to God has been opened up, brings prominently forward once more the truth, that they, and they only, are real worshippers of God, and therefore partakers of His favour, members of His Church. The name, those who seek the Lord (the textual reading דְ?ֹ?רְ?שׁ?וֹ? being obviously a contraction for the marginal דּ?ֹ?רְ?שׁ?ָ?יו , which ought to be rejected), circulated, as it appears, like a coin, and the whole people were wont to apply to themselves this name. But the Psalmist claims it for those to whom it belongs. That man only deserves this name, who fulfils the law of God. That only can be called a reverencing of God, which is concerned about purity of heart.

To see the face of the Lord, is to be a sharer in His favour; and, therefore, to seek the face of the Lord, is to be concerned about His favour, sincerely to strive to please Him. And this striving manifests itself in earnest endeavours to obtain purity of heart, as the only means of seeing God, of pleasing Him. “Jacob,” stands for, “the generation of Jacob.” Jacob, and not Israel, is used, for the purpose of opposing the prevailing fancy of the times. The people laid great stress on their descent from Jacob, and supposed descent from Jacob according to the flesh, and incorporation with the people of the covenant, to be identical. In opposition to this, the Psalmist remarks, that only those who are earnest in their pursuit after holiness, according to the good pleasure of God, are the true posterity of Jacob, and form the people of the covenant, who are under the dominion of grace. The others, notwithstanding their descent from Jacob, belong not to Jacob, but are heathen, and thus children of wrath. We may compare, on this point, those passages in which the ungodly members of the Church, in contempt of their pretensions, founded on mere external relationship, are addressed as heathen, as uncircumcised, or specially as Canaanites, or by the name of some other heathen nation: Jeremiah 4:4, Jeremiah 9:25; Isaiah 1:10; Ezekiel 16:3; see also the Christol. Part 2, p. 398. In the New Testament, Romans 9:6-7 is exactly parallel: “For they are not all Israel which are of Israel.” The sudden address directed to God, who seek Thy face, gives additional emphasis to the declaration, which is uttered as it were in the presence of God.

According to Stier and others, the true Israel are here put in the room of those who are descended from Jacob according to the flesh:—”Whoever, among all nations, inquires after God, receives the blessing of Abraham, and belongs to Jacob.” But, in reality, we have here nothing more than a preliminary step to the idea, “among all nations, this is the generation,” etc.,—we have not yet that idea itself. The only distinction drawn, is one among the natural descendants of Jacob; and the only notion refuted, is the notion, that the grace of God is given along with descent from Jacob, and to every one of his lineal posterity.

The exposition which, to the destruction of the parallelism, understands “Jacob” as in apposition, is to be rejected as harsh and forced: “This, the generation of His worshippers, those who seek Thy face, Jacob; that is, the true descendants of Jacob:”—the address to God is, on this view, altogether intolerable. The same remark may be made on the interpretation, “who seek thy face, O Jacob, i.e. O God of Jacob;” as also, on the supposition that אלהי has dropped out of the text.

Verse 7

Ver. 7. The procession, with the ark of the covenant, has approached Mount Zion. The Psalmist addresses its gates, and commands them to open, that the glorious King may enter in. Lift up, ye gates, your heads; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, that the King of glory may come. The King of glory is the glorious, majestic King. What, in the first instance, is only a poetical figure, becomes, within the spiritual domain, a reality. What the external gates would have done if they had been endued with reason, will in reality be performed by hearts which are capable of comprehending the majesty and the glory of the approaching King. Here the doors and gates will in reality open. They will give to the King that wide and ready entrance, which formerly they gave to the world and to sin. This application, which indeed is more than an application,—is really an exposition,—becomes evident as soon as we refer back the command to open to the why given by the Psalmist himself.

Along with the ark of the covenant, the Lord also came in all the fulness of His glory, and with all the riches of His grace and justice: compare, in reference to the import of the ark of the covenant, Numbers 10:35-36; Christology, P. 3, p. 523, etc. It was not the mere change of place of a symbol that was then celebrated: it was the bringing in of a new era in the relationship of God to His people; and the Psalmist took occasion to exhort the people to know the time of their visitation. Long had the ark of the covenant been, as it were, resting in the grave: compare the Beitr. P. 3, p. 48. And now that it rose out of it, now that the Lord intended to make His habitation among His people, it was of great consequence for them to receive Him in a worthy manner, that so His arrival might bring upon them, not a curse, but a blessing.

Verse 8

Ver. 8. Who is He, the King of Glory? The Lord, strong and a hero; the Lord, mighty in battle. It is certainly more natural to suppose that a second chorus here falls in with the question, than, with others, that the Psalmist represents the gates as putting the question. Even this supposition, however, is unnecessary. The question is of the same kind with those in Psalms 24:3, and Psalms 15:1, and is equivalent to, “Askest thou who He is?” It is intended merely to awaken attention. Venema “The in habitants of Zion were thereby instructed to contemplate with deep seriousness the characteristics of the King.” The זה in the question has, according to several interpreters, the character of an adverb, “Who is there?” and therefore it stands without the article, and forward. Compare Ewald’s Small Grammar, § 446. Others again consider it as really the pronoun. In reference to the answer, Calvin has the following very important remark: “The glorious appellations by which the Psalmist extols the power of God, are intended to show to the people of the covenant that God does not sit idly in the temple, but that He is prepared to help His people, and to stretch out His strong hand to preserve and to save them.” Israel, surrounded by mighty nations, and as yet a small people, could found his hope of safety only on the help of his heavenly Hero-King. Compare Exodus 15:3; Numbers 10:35-36; and 1 Samuel 17:45, where David says to Goliath, “I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel;” and 1 Samuel 17:47, “The battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

Verse 9

Ver. 9. Lift up your heads, ye doors; and lift them up, ye everlasting gates, that the King of glory may come. The summons is repeated, with little alteration, for the purpose of connecting with it a second question, as the first answer had not been sufficient, had represented only imperfectly the majesty of the King of glory.

Verse 10

Ver. 10. Who is He, the King of glory? The Lord, the Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Several interpreters, and latterly Koester, interpret the Lord of hosts as equivalent to the God of battle. But the parallelism to which they appeal in favour of this entirely arbitrary exposition is decidedly against it. The expression, “Lord of hosts,” must necessarily have a fuller meaning than Psalms 24:8. For otherwise, no reason can be assigned for the repetition of the question. The new idea contained in Psalms 24:9 and Psalms 24:10 is, that the God who, in the 8th verse, is represented as the hero of the earth, as the God of the earthly hosts (Israel had been, even in the Pentateuch, spoken of as the host of God, צבאות יהוה , Exodus 12:41), is also the God of the heavenly hosts. He cannot be the first, in the right and full sense, unless He is also the second, just as He cannot in the full sense be the God of Israel, unless He is also the God of the world. What God is on earth, depends upon what He is in heaven. If He has any who are equal to Him there, He is not in the full sense the King of glory upon earth. The conclusion thus comes back to the opening strain of the Psalm, where the Lord, in like manner, had been praised as the God of the world: and the whole Psalm, which was intended to call forth in the Church a living view of the glory of her approaching God, concludes with that appellation of God which reflects this glory most clearly. Michaelis: Plus enim et majus et brevius quid dicere de eo vobis non possum.

The hosts are always heavenly, and not created things generally. For in the passage, Genesis 2:1, the heaven and the earth is to be regarded as equivalent to the universe; and the hosts belong to it, according to that passage, only in respect to one of its two parts. The phrase, heavens and the earth, is unquestionably used in the sense of the universe, in Genesis 2:4, where man is spoken of as the product of the heavens and the earth. Just as in the second passage we find attributed to the heavens what belongs exclusively to the earth, so in the first verse there is attributed to the earth what belongs only to the heavens. The heavenly hosts are divided into spiritual hosts—the angels, and material—the stars. No single passage represents the angels as standing in closer relation to the stars, than that they together make up the heavenly hosts; and the confident assertion of Gesenius, “Quippe quas (the stars) ab angelis geniisque coelestibus habitatas esse existimarent,” must be rejected as altogether without foundation. This appellation refers, throughout, principally and usually to the sun, moon, and stars, on account of the opposition implied to the prevailing Sabeanism,—which contributed very much to give the name Jehovah Sabaoth its importance.

We cannot translate, with Gesenius and others, Jehovah of hosts, but, Jehovah, of hosts: the general idea, God, must be derived from Jehovah, as has been adverted to in the Christology, P. 3, p. 218. The reasons are these: 1. יהוה cannot be used as a proper noun in the status constructus. 2. צבאות יהוה אלהים occurs in several passages, as Psalms 59:6, Psalms 80:5. 3. אדני occurs in Isaiah 10:16. 4. Κύ?ριος σαβαώ?θ occurs in the Septuagint, and in Romans 9:29, and James 5:4, which shows, that, to a certain extent, צבאות was regarded as standing by itself. On the other hand, those who would isolate Sabaoth completely, and maintain that it is to be considered just as a name of God, as Baumgarten has recently done, require to be reminded that it never occurs except in connection with one of the names of God.

In the Pentateuch ( Genesis 2:1) there is to be found the basis of the appellation, but not the appellation itself. That this is not to be attributed to design on the part of the author (as might be said in the case of Ezekiel and Job), but is to be explained by the assumption that the name had not yet been formed, is evident from the fact that it does not occur either in Joshua or Judges. It would certainly be a very singular circumstance that the word should be omitted designedly in the three most ancient historical books.

Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 24". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/heg/psalms-24.html.
 
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