The key to understanding Psalm 24 is to recognize why it was written – its background and context.
David wrote this psalm for a special occasion. Let’s turn our attention to the end of this psalm to discover why Psalm 24 was written.
Verse 7 in the KJV says,
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Verse 9 basically repeats verse 7 when it says,
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
And then there’s a question as to the identity of this King of Glory that is both asked and answered in verses 8 and 10.
Verse 8 says,
Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
And then verse 10 ends the psalm by again identifying the King of Glory where David says,
Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.
So, what’s happening in verses 7 through 10 is this. The gates and doorways of a certain building are, as it were, commanded to pay attention – to “look alive” as they say. And they’re commanded to stand at attention because a very special being is entering into the building of which they’re a part.
This individual is identified as the LORD – Yahweh, God’s covenant name. This is speaking of none other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God of Israel is going to enter into some sort of building.
So, then we ask ourselves when did the Lord ever enter into a building in the Old Testament? In particular, can we find a time when this happened during David’s lifetime?
And the answer to that question is yes, we do know of a time when the Lord entered into a building in David’s lifetime.
And for that incident, let’s turn to 1 Chronicles 15.
Let’s read of this incident of the Lord entering into a building made by David.
KJV 1 Chronicles 15:1 ¶ And David made him houses in the city of David, and prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched for it a tent.
So, there’s David making a building for the Ark.
Skip to verse 3.
3 And David gathered all Israel together to Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the LORD unto his place, which he had prepared for it.
There again is a mention of David preparing a place for the Ark.
Then verses 4 through 10 have the Chronicler stating the number of priests and Levites who helped in this process.
And verses 11 through 13 have David commanding these priests and Levites in how they should bring the ark of the Lord into the place he made for it.
We’ll continue reading in verse 14.
14 So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel. 15 And the children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders with the staves thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the LORD.
16 And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of musick, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy.
Then the Levites obey that command from David in verses 17 through 24 and the singers and musicians are appointed.
And we’ll continue reading in verse 25.
25 ¶ So David, and the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the house of Obededom with joy. 26 And it came to pass, when God helped the Levites that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that they offered seven bullocks and seven rams. 27 And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod of linen. 28 Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps.
And we’ll stop there. And by the way, this story is told also in 2 Samuel 6.
So, this scene could serve very well as the background behind Psalm 24. The Lord God of Israel – as represented by the Ark of the Covenant – is entering in to a tent with gates and doorways. It is the King of Glory, the Lord of hosts entering into a building with great joy and celebration.