The Word Made Fresh
(A psalm of David.)
1The earth and everything in it belongs to the LORD,
every living thing that dwells there.
2The LORD established it on the oceans,
and settled it around the rivers.
3Who may climb the LORD’s hill,
and stand in the LORD’s sacred place?
4Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who don’t take part in lies or make misleading promises.
5The LORD will reward them,
and they will be supported by the God who rescues them.
6That is the reward those who seek God’s face will receive –
the face of Jacob’s God.
7Let your gates raise their heads
and your ancient doors be lifted up,
and let the King of glory enter!
8Who is the King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty!
The LORD, mighty in battle!
9Let your gates raise their heads
and let your ancient doors be lifted,
so that the King of glory may enter!
10Who is the King of glory?
The LORD who is almighty!
The LORD is the King of glory!
Superscription: the 21st psalm ascribed to David.
1-2: The whole earth belongs to God, the psalmist declares, including its inhabitants. Ancient people looked at the earth through eyes unaided by scientific instruments and saw that the land rested on the oceans. That, to them, was the nature of the earth. As for its inhabitants, they knew that civilizations could only survive when established on a river because that was the surest source of fresh water.
3-6: Given that it all belongs to God (and specifically the LORD, the God of Israel), who is worthy to approach God’s dwelling place on earth? The answer echoes the sentiments we found in Psalm 1. Clean hands and pure hearts are necessary, and the key to that lies in being honest and true. Indeed, in verse 6 the psalmist affirms that only those with clean hands and pure hearts seek the LORD.
7-10: Verses 7-8 are repeated in verses 9-10. It is a call for the gates of the temple to be opened wide to receive the “King of glory,” the LORD, the creator and proprietor of the earth. Although David did not build the temple, he did make preparations for it, including the organization of the priests and Levites. He is therefore a popular candidate for the authorship of many of the psalms that have to do with the worship life of Israel.
The Psalms are poems, and in poetic imagery inanimate objects are often animated. “Let your gates raise their heads” is a poetic way of visualizing the miraculous entry of the Almighty into our city, and into our lives. Picture your door opening and the LORD walking into your home and into your day. And all will be well.