Psalms 24 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The impregnable stronghold of Zion had fallen. David was master of his future capital. But it was not in his own strength, not for his own glory, that the victory had been won. The city of David was to be “the city of the Lord of Hosts.” Its true owner and King must now enter and take possession. The Ark, which was the symbol of His Presence, must be solemnly brought up and installed in the tent which David had prepared for it. For that unique occasion, the greatest day in David’s life (see Stanley’s Jewish Church, Lect. xxiii.), this Psalm appears to have been written. Jehovah comes as a victorious warrior, fresh from the conquest of the impregnable fortress ( Psa 24:7-10). The opening assertion of His universal sovereignty as the Creator of the world offers a fitting caution not to suppose that because He has chosen one city for His special dwelling-place, His Presence and activity are limited to it ( Psa 24:1-2); the inquiry what must be the character of His worshippers ( Psa 24:3-6), appropriate in any case, gains fresh point in view of the disaster which had for a while deferred the ceremony (2Sa 6:9). The “ancient doors” are the gates of the venerable fortress, now opening to receive their true Lord.
No other occasion, such as the Dedication of the Temple, or the return of the Ark from some victory, explains the whole Psalm equally well.
Some commentators have questioned the original unity of the poem. On the ground of difference in tone and style, and supposed want of coherence, they have maintained that Psa 24:1-6 are taken from a poem of a didactic character, Psa 24:7-10, from a triumphal ode. The variety of style is not however greater than might be expected from the change of subject, and a clear sequence of thought can be traced in the three stanzas of the Psalm.
i. The introductory verses declare the Majesty of Him Who comes to take possession ( Psa 24:1-2).
ii. The conditions of access to His sanctuary are determined ( Psa 24:3-6).
iii. The ancient fortress is summoned to admit its true king, and the character of His sovereignty is proclaimed ( Psa 24:7-10).
The musical performance of the Psalm probably corresponded to its dramatic character, though the precise arrangement can only be conjectured.
Psa 24:1-6 were perhaps intended to be sung as the procession mounted the hill; Psa 24:1-2 by the full choir, the question of Psa 24:3 as a solo, the answer of Psa 24:4-5 as another solo, the response of Psa 24:6 in chorus. Psa 24:7-10 may have been sung as the procession halted before the venerable gates of the citadel; the summons of Psa 24:7 and Psa 24:9 by a single voice (or possibly by the choir), the challenge of Psa 24:8 a and Psa 24:10 a by a voice as from the gates, the triumphant response of Psa 24:8 b and Psa 24:10 b by the full choir.
According to the title in the LXX, which agrees with the liturgical use of the Jewish Church as prescribed in the Talmud, this was the Psalm for the first day of the week. See Introd. p. xxvii.
It is fitly used as a Proper Psalm for Ascension Day.
Psalms 15, 68 should be compared.
Consult other comments:
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".