While there may be some discussion as to whether certain Psalms should be considered Messianic, there is no doubt or disagreement that Psalm 24 is intensely Messianic in character and content. The six references to Jehovah and the five references to “the King of glory”1 silence the critics and ensure the Psalm has an eminent place among the Messianic Psalms. The prophetic element in this Psalm, anticipating the return of the King “with power and great glory” Matt.24.30; Lk.21.27, further reinforces its right to be included. It is encouraging also to note that “the Jews are unanimous in applying a Messianic interpretation to those Psalms which are generally accepted as such by Christians. It is a remarkable fact that of all the citations in the New Testament from the Old Testament which have a Messianic reference, nearly one half of them are made from the Psalms.”2
1. These are the only occurrences of this title in the Scriptures.
2. Hodgkin, A.M. “Christ in All the Scriptures”. Pickering and Inglis Ltd., 1976, p.111.
There is a close similarity between Psalm 24 and Revelation chapter 5, where search is made for One of sufficiently majestic character and moral calibre Who is qualified to reclaim earth for the glory of God and re-establish Divine standards upon earth. When it seemed that “no man was found worthy” v.4, attention is directed to “the Lion of the tribe of Juda” v.5, and the Lamb “in the midst of the throne” v.6, the former title being suggestive of His majesty and sovereignty, and the latter of His meekness and sacrifice. There is also a close correlation between this Psalm and Psalm 15, which alludes to the same event historically; the language throughout is strikingly similar.
It has often been pointed out that Psalm 24 is the third of the very precious trilogy of Psalms including Psalms 22 and 23, portraying Christ respectively as the suffering Saviour, the sufficient Shepherd and the supreme Sovereign. Psalm 22 looks back to His crucifixion, Psalm 23 focuses on His unfailing care and Psalm 24 cheers us with thoughts of His coming. Psalm 22 features the tree and His passion, Psalm 23 the table and His provision, and Psalm 24 the throne and His power. In Psalm 22 He met my deepest need when He died for me, and in Psalm 23 He meets my daily needs for He lives for me, proffering unchanging and unceasing care towards “the flock for which He bled”3. In the time considered in Psalm 24, we (the Church) will be beyond all the needs of this present life, and the delightful “no mores” of Rev.21.4 will already be our blessed portion, and will be so eternally.
3. From the hymn “There is a fold whence none can stray”, by John East.
The sequence of these Psalms indicates that His love did not die when He expired on the tree, nor did it remain in the tomb after He triumphantly vacated it but His love continues unabated in scenes of glory and will endure eternally. To the eleven men who stood with heavenward gaze on the Mount of Olives as Christ ascended back to heaven, He was described by angels as “this same Jesus” Acts 1.11, and how grateful we are that He has not changed; He is truly “… the same yesterday, and today, and for ever” Heb.13.8.
Behold Him there the once slain Lamb,
My perfect, spotless, righteousness,
The great unchangeable “I AM”,
The King of glory and of grace.
(Charitie L. Bancroft)
THE CONTRIBUTOR OF THE PSALM
The title of the Psalm leaves us in no doubt that the writer was King David but the theme features “great David’s greater Son”4, Whose Kingdom and reign will, in every aspect, be infinitely greater than that seen while “the son of Jesse” was on the throne. His kingdom came to an end and another reigned in his stead, but the Lord will never be superseded or succeeded. Just as He is “a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” Heb.7.17, even so “He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” Lk.1.33.
4. From the hymn “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed”, by James Montgomery.
We are introduced to His royalty at the very commencement of the New Testament: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David …” Matt.1.1. Of Him the angel Gabriel said to Mary, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the LORD God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David” Lk.1.32.
Perhaps David, more than any other of Israel’s monarchs, was best suited to write this Psalm as he particularly was greatly impressed by the majesty of the Lord. Even from the years of his youth as he tended his father’s flocks, he would gaze towards the star-spangled heavens and consider the mighty Creator of it all: “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth! Who hast set Thy glory above the heavens … When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained …” Ps.8.1,3. How great must He be Who “created the heaven and the earth” Gen.1.1, and keeps the stars in their unerring orbits, knowing their names and number! David wrote again, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork” Ps.19.1. Well could David, the son of Jesse, have sung the delightful words of that justly famous hymn:
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee,
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
(Stuart K. Hine)
THE COMPOSITION OF THE PSALM
Because of the joyous nature of the historical occasion alluded to in the Psalm (which will be discussed in the following section) and the glorious event referred to prophetically, when the Messiah will return to the gladsome acclamations of His people, the Psalm is celebratory, accompanied with music and triumphant singing, and was intended for a choir or two choirs. J.M. Flanigan points out that “the Psalm is written in what is known as an antiphonal style”, with two choirs singing alternate phrases, “each responding to the other in an orderly way, almost like an echo”.5
5. Flanigan, J.M. “What the Bible Teaches – Psalms”. John Ritchie Ltd., Kilmarnock, 2001.
Most commentators consider the Psalm to be divided into two parts by the “Selah” at the end of v.6, though others conclude that the first two verses form another section.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE PSALM
It is generally agreed that the historical background to the Psalm is the bringing of the Ark of God (the Ark of the Covenant) from the house of Obed-edom to Jerusalem. The Ark was a vital piece of sacred furniture to the nation as it betokened the indispensable presence of Jehovah amongst them. Without His presence they were just like the nations around in many respects but when the power and presence of their God was experienced and enjoyed they were invincible. It had long been a burden on the heart of King David to find a suitably majestic place wherein to store this most precious and significant object, so he brought it to Jerusalem, 2Sam.6.12, “and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it …” v.17; 1Chr.15.25-16.1.
Subsequently, King Solomon issued instructions for the Ark of the Covenant to be brought into “the most holy place” in the Temple, 1Kgs.6.16, and chapter 8 records the glad occasion when the Ark was finally placed in that inner sanctum: “And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims … And they drew out the staves …” 1Kgs.8.6,8. Unlike the Tabernacle, where the Ark was the first object to be placed within, Ex.40.17-21, it was the last item that was placed in Solomon’s Temple. The wilderness journeys were over, fighting and warring were finished, Israel’s enemies had been subjugated by their warrior-king David and a period of unprecedented peace and prosperity was now to be enjoyed under the benign reign of David’s son Solomon.
This is a very suggestive introduction to great David’s greater Son and sets the scene for the Messiah, Who will return to deliver the oppressed remnant of His people Israel, just when it seems that they are about to be totally destroyed by the encircling enemies who have assembled with their combined military might to carry out their infernal desires to rid the world once and for all of this ‘troublesome people’, whose presence they could not tolerate. With devastating power and unparalleled rapidity He will summarily deal with Israel’s foes, until not one of them is left standing.
“This King of glory; the LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle …” will then establish His Millennial Kingdom on earth, with its metropolis in Jerusalem and His people will at last experience peace and prosperity on a scale never before known in their long and problematic history. Where Christ was crucified He will be crowned; where He was rejected He will be received and where He was hated He will be honoured. The whole earth will feel the glad effects of His prosperous sovereignty, released at last from the misrule of men and the grotesque oppression of Satan. It will be the great Jubilee for this groaning creation.
His will be a theocratic kingdom, a literal kingdom, more enduring than any empire that has gone before and He will rule by undisputed right since He is not only Son of God but Son of man. In a vision the prophet Daniel saw the Son of man come to the Ancient of days to receive everlasting dominion and an indestructible kingdom, Dan.7.13,14. His credentials are unchallenged and His power is invincible: “And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords’” Rev.19.16.
His glories and greatness are the joyous theme of the Psalm we will now consider in greater detail.
While many envisage solely the Lord’s ascension in this Psalm, it is abundantly clear that, while that may be an application, the Psalm directs us to the Manifestation of the Lord in glory, descending to earth to deliver His oppressed earthly people who have waited long for the advent of their Messiah: “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob …” Isa.59.20. The One Who was rejected by the nations will rule over the nations: “For the kingdom is the LORD’s: and He is the Governor among the nations” Ps.22.28. “Incorporated in Israel’s hymnbook, this Psalm became, with a regard to its original occasion and purpose, an Old Testament Advent hymn in honour of the Lord who should come into His temple, Mal.3.1.”6
6. Keil, K.F. and Delitzsch, F. “Commentary on the Old Testament”. T and T Clark, 1870.
That glorious event, so real and so greatly anticipated by the suffering and persecuted remnant of that future day, is commonly known as the Manifestation, or the ‘Epiphany of His parousia’. It will occur just at the end of Daniel’s seventieth week, Dan.9.24-27, at the end of the unprecedented time of suffering known as The Great Tribulation or “the time of Jacob’s trouble” Jer.30.7, and having speedily and summarily dealt with His foes, Rev.19.11-21, the Lord, in majesty and triumph, will establish His Millennial Kingdom on earth, Rev.20.4. It will be a time of unparalleled blessing, beauty and bounty and is elsewhere designated in Scripture as “the times of refreshing” Acts 3.19 (it will be like a breath of fresh air to the previously beleaguered people of God); “the times of restitution of all things” Acts 3.21 (wrongs will be rectified and all will be set right) and “the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory” Matt.19.28. It will be like being reborn. Their sight will be restored, their sickness removed, their status reinstated, their service renewed, their sacrifices will recommence and their songs of praise will reverberate throughout that happy Land.
The opening words of v.1 are quoted by Paul in 1Cor.10.26; the truth conveyed by these majestic words is found throughout Scripture and affirms the creative power of the Lord Jesus Christ: “For by Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him” Col.1.16. “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made” Jn.1.3. “… His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds” Heb.1.2. By the mere expression of His omnipotence everything was instantaneously created and the work completed in six days: “For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” Ps.33.9. He Who is before and above all creation made everything: from the angels to the atom, from the planets to the plants.
Thine almighty power and wisdom
All creation’s works proclaim;
Heaven and earth alike confess Thee
As the ever great I AM.
(James G. Deck)
“The earth is the LORD’s …” v.1
“The earth is the LORD’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” N.A.S.B. We are merely the occupiers but the Lord is the Owner. He owns all the resources, every grain of sand, every speck of dust, every vein of silver and nugget of gold and every square inch of soil. It is His alone by virtue of creation and yet puny men have defiantly claimed portions of it for themselves as if they had the right to do so: “For by Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him” Col.1.16. As such, there is not a place, particle or person over which He does not hold absolute sway.
“… The world, and they that dwell therein” v.1
The Hebrew word for “world” (tebel7) suggests the habitable world and asserts that there God is rightly to be acknowledged as Sovereign, worthy of the homage, veneration and worship of all His creatures. What was true of Israel is sadly true of the majority of people in this world: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, ‘I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider’” Isa.1.2,3. Eliphaz the Temanite described “wicked men … which said unto God, ‘Depart from us: and what can the Almighty do for them?’ Yet He filled their houses with good things” Job 22.15,17,18. Such is the disdainful attitude so prevalent in the world today; men would banish every thought and mention of God from their minds and mouths and, if they could, would drive God out of His very creation.
7. “A feminine noun meaning world, earth”. (Strong’s 8398). Baker, W. and Carpenter, E. “The Complete Word Study Dictionary –Old Testament” AMG Publishers, 2003.
Generally, men no longer want to speak, think or talk about God; for many, alas, He is totally irrelevant to their lives. Aggressive atheism, secular humanism and relativism are on the increase and the Word of God is no longer considered to be absolute and timeless truth. That hatred and contempt for all things Divine will reach its climax after the Church has been raptured home to heaven and will be exhibited as never before by “them that dwell on the earth” Rev.13.14, who vainly and wrongly imagine that God has no right to impose His law and righteous standards here. They foolishly think that they own the earth, but shortly God will dispossess them and reclaim what is rightfully His alone.
“For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods” v.2
This establishes beyond all doubt why “the earth is the LORD’s”. All the continents, countries and islands lie in the briny bath of the seas and oceans, which cover approximately seventy-one per cent of the earth’s surface, and the oceans contain around ninety-six and a half per cent of all the earth’s water. This was the great work accomplished on the third day of creation when from the aqueous abundance God caused the dry land to appear.
That word when creation was shrouded in night,
Drove back the dark curtains, and lo! There was light!
His voice o’er the vast waste of waters was heard,
“… the hill of the LORD … His holy place” v.3. Since Jerusalem will literally be elevated at that time, the language suggests the city, and it may also specifically refer to Mount Moriah, of great historical significance to the nation of Israel. “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King” Ps.48.1,2. The “holy place” undoubtedly refers to the rebuilt Millennial Temple, where sacrifices will be offered and whence worship will again daily ascend to God. The glory which once departed, 1Sam.4.21, will return and all nations will understand the sanctity of that place and the holy service carried on there.
God specifies the character of those who will form the nucleus of that great Millennial Kingdom which will stretch from shore to shore and will overspread the whole earth. These will be Jews but also a vast number of Gentiles who will believe the message of the gospel as proclaimed by the one hundred and forty-four thousand evangelists who will be sealed, twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, Rev.7.4. Their fruitful and effective testimony will ensure the salvation of many who will be preserved of God through those most difficult times of the Great Tribulation and who will enter the Kingdom. It is not that they merit a place in the Kingdom by virtue of their character or good works; that place can only be gained by faith, as in every preceding age: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” Jn.3.3.
Twice over the question “Who?” is asked and God delineates the calibre of those who will be worthy of a place of responsibility in the administration of that great worldwide empire. Four specific criteria are mentioned: “he that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully” v.4. Purity and sincerity will be the hallmarks of all such and righteousness will characterise those associated with the Monarch and His Millennial Kingdom. As is the Sovereign, so will His subjects be! In the descriptions given it is evident that these appreciate the King and have anticipated His Kingdom. Of course, there was only One in Whom these virtues were found always and in fullest measure, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth” 1Pet.2.22. John similarly testifies, “And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin” 1Jn.3.5. He is the perfect embodiment of the blessed man of Psalm 1, at all times and in all places, bringing untold pleasure to His Father.
Without a trace of Adam’s sin,
As Man unique in origin,
All fair without, all pure within,
Our blessèd Lord!
Without a flaw from first to last,
Through all His perfect path He passed,
Till by an evil world outcast,
Our blessèd Lord!
“Clean hands” v.4: external and visible. These are indicative of freedom from defilement; their activities will be righteous and beyond reproach. The adjective (Heb. naqiy, Strong 5355) means ‘clean, free from, exempt’ and refers to those who are free from blame.
“Pure heart” v.4: internal and invisible. This is suggestive of sincerity and transparency, not characterised by duplicity and dishonesty. According to Baker and Carpenter8 the Hebrew word bar means ‘‘pure, clean, radiant. This term is extremely rare and occurs only in the poetic books. The word typically denotes purity or cleanness of heart, Ps.24.4; 73.1; cf. Job 11.4.” Similar language is expressed in the Sermon on the Mount as found in Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7, where the standards of the kingdom are clarified. The language approximates to the sentiments expressed here: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” Matt.5.8. “They have a pure heart; that is, their motives are sincere and their minds uncorrupted. They do not subscribe to falsehood in any form.”9
“Who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity” v.4. Vanity (Heb. saw) here equates with falsehood, lies, deceit. “In the Ten Commandments, the word is used to describe what is prohibited, Deut.5.20.”10
9. MacDonald, William. “Believer’s Bible Commentary”. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989.
10. Baker W. and Carpenter E., ibid.
“Nor sworn deceitfully” v.4: (Heb. mirmah. Strong 4820). “The term signifies the intentional misleading of someone else through distorting or withholding the truth.”11 “They do not pervert justice by testifying to what is not true.”12 “A lying tongue” and “a false witness that speaketh lies” are two of the things the Lord hates, Prov.6.17,19. Such misuse of the tongue is incompatible with “God, that cannot lie …” Titus 1.2.
12. MacDonald, William, ibid.
Not only are these traits to be found in the subjects of that earthly Kingdom, but, of necessity, should characterise all Christians presently. We should be men and women of honour; our word should be our bond. Our deeds and words should be beyond reproach and we should be marked by righteousness. Alas, all too often, we must confess our sins and invoke the gracious intervention of our Advocate on high, 1Jn.2.1.
“… that seek thy face, O Jacob” v.6. The marginal reading, “O God of Jacob”, appears to give better sense but is not supported by widespread manuscript authority. The primarily Jewish aspect is in focus and the thought seems to be that those who seek the Lord and wish to have communion with Him will find Him among His people; Jacob often signifies the nation, as in Jer.30.7,10. See also, “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel …” Isa.43.1; “Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel …” Isa.48.1; “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; ‘Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel …’” Ezek.39.25; “I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel …” Mic.2.12; “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, ‘We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you’” Zech.8.23.
It has often been suggested that Jacob represents the unworthiness of Israel, undeserving of the many blessings bestowed upon them, and the name magnifies the grace of their God Who throughout their chequered history, and in spite of their unfaithfulness, has remained faithful; He has protected and preserved them with a view to ultimately restoring them to a position of prominence among the nations. The greatest proof of their future is their past. In spite of widespread persecution, hatred and the Holocaust, and the global scourge of anti-Semitism, God has a great future for them: “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” Rom.11.29.
The five references to this wondrous title assert the glorious future that God has in mind for His Son. The sufferings and humiliation of the Lord are over forever and He will be weighted with eternal glories, His by relationship, by right and by redemption. In spite of all who set themselves to oppose and frustrate the programme and purpose of God, whether they be terrestrial or infernal, the inviolable and unalterable truth is, “Yet have I set My king upon My holy hill of Zion” Ps.2.6. Nothing and no one can ever prevent the establishment of His glorious Millennial Kingdom. He Who willingly wore the mocking crown of thorns will gladly and befittingly wear the diadems of regal glory and bear the sceptre of universal dominion.
Our Lord is now rejected
And by the world disowned,
By the many still neglected,
And by the few enthroned;
But soon He’ll come in glory!
The hour is drawing nigh,
For the crowning day is coming,
By and by.
(Daniel W. Whittle)
Many oppose that precious truth doctrinally by their pernicious and false teaching of Amillennialism, denying the Lord Jesus His literal, earthly, one-thousand-year Kingdom, with Jerusalem as its capital and the long-persecuted and downtrodden people of God, the Jewish nation, in proper relationship with their Messiah.
The King of Glory
This Psalm is unique in that it contains this title five times and in no other Scripture is it to be found. The King of glory is identified, introduced and invited to enter where only He has undisputed right to be. His glory will radiate throughout the whole earth; He will be weighted with many diadems of glory and all the world will see the effulgent excellency of the once despised Jesus. It is His glory that will dispel the darkness which will envelop the earth just prior to His majestic return. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come” Joel 2.31. That blaze of glory will be seen from east to west and from north to south. It will be brighter far than the sun and exceedingly greater in its far-reaching radiance. Its rays will bathe the whole world in a light never seen so totally and universally before. Is it any wonder that in heaven and on the new earth, there shall be “no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” Rev.21.23, “and there shall be no night there” Rev.22.5?
“And the LORD shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and His name one” Zech.14.9. The wreaths of universal empire will adorn His once thorn-wreathed brow and the sceptre of global dominion will be placed confidently in the hands once nailed to the tree of shame and suffering. All power and authority will be His; He will be the absolute Ruler, “the most absolute and autocratic Monarch the world has yet seen”.13 Yet, He will never be corrupted by His absolute power; His will be a reign of righteousness, holiness and equity. All will then acknowledge His claims and to Him all the nations of the earth will bring their homage.
13. Baron, David. “Rays of Messiah’s Glory”. Hebrew Christian Testimony to Israel, p.175.
His Kingdom will neither be fictional nor figurative, but literal and, in its earthly aspect, lasting for one thousand years, Revelation chapter 20. Its capital will be Jerusalem, then no longer trodden down by the marauding hordes of history, but the seat of Divine administration and completely under the sway of the Lord Jesus, with His people as He always wished them to be, all gladly subject to His authority and rendering unquestioning obedience and allegiance to Him.
Much profit will be derived from the study of glory linked to the Godhead in the following passages: “the Father of glory” Eph.1.17; “the Spirit of glory” 1Pet.4.14; “the God of glory” Acts 7.2; “the Lord of glory” 1Cor.2.8, and “the King of glory” Ps.24.7,8,9,10.
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting [ancient] doors” v.7
The idea is of a portcullis that is hoisted up to give access to the monarch rather than doors or gates swinging on hinges.
What a contrast will be observed in that day, between the once despised Jesus, the meek and lowly “man of sorrows” Isa.53.3, and the crowned King of glory, “the man whose name is The Branch” Zech.6.12. “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth” Jer.23.5. “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the LORD God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” Lk.1.32,33.
What a welcome awaits the coming, conquering Messiah at Jerusalem; not only will the ancient gates of the city open to Him but He will proceed into the Temple without opposition or challenge! “Yet have I set My king upon My holy hill of Zion” Ps.2.6, envisages this as an accomplished fact and the outcome will never be in question. Just as the Ark of the Covenant betokened the Divine presence among His people, so Israel (“Jacob”) will yet enjoy the presence, power, provision and prosperity of their erstwhile rejected Messiah. “… the name of the city from that day shall be, ‘The LORD is there’” Ezek.48.35. Jehovah-Shammah will gild the city, the country and the entire earth, and the whole world will discover the blessings that can be enjoyed when Christ is given His rightful place and pre-eminence. “And many nations shall come, and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways …’” Mic.4.2.
“Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the LORD of hosts” Mal.3.1. The first messenger referred to in this verse is John Baptist in his role as the forerunner of the Lord Jesus, but “the Messenger of the covenant” is the Lord Jesus, coming in power and glory to His expectant people. At His first advent, He was made to feel unwelcome and unwanted; “He came unto His own [things], and His own [people] received Him not” Jn.1.11. Then, things will be different. “As the triumphant King is recognised, the Jews, filled with wonderment, exclaim, ‘Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us; Lo, this is the LORD [Jehovah], we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation’ Isa.25.9.”14
14. Samuel, E. Bendor. “The Prophetic Character of the Psalms” Pickering and Inglis, London.
Victory over His enemies is assured even before He leaves heaven, and a waiting, faithful, remnant and the many who will repent in view of the imminent coming of the King, will gladly receive Him and readily give Him the place and adoration denied Him by the unbelieving nation when He came to be the Saviour of the world, Jn.1.11. “The stone which the builders rejected …” Matt.21.42; Mk.12.10; Lk.20.17, will then be “the stone … cut out of the mountain without hands” Dan.2.45. “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” Dan.2.44.
That victorious coming as the Warrior-King is graphically described in Revelation chapter 19. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called ‘Faithful and True,’ and in righteousness He doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself” Rev.19.11,12. Although we talk about the battle of Armageddon, there really will be no battle for He will speedily exact retribution upon His enemies, who so defiantly and audaciously presumed to annihilate the Lord’s people.
He is identified as “the LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle” Ps.24.8, and in v.10 as “the LORD of hosts”. What a victory He has already gained at the cross, when, in apparent weakness, He destroyed “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver[ed] them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” Heb.2.14,15. “And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” Col.2.15. When He returns, His victory over His enemies will be total; every foe on earth will be subjugated and all, without exception, will fall beneath His powerful stroke, never to pose a threat again.
The title “the LORD of hosts” v.10, which occurs often in the Old Testament, is found only twice in the New Testament, in Rom.9.29 and Jms.5.4 (in both cases the Authorised Version has “Lord of sabaoth”: “sabaoth” is derived from the Hebrew word translated “hosts”). It is noteworthy that its first occurrence in Holy Scripture is in 1Sam.1.3,11 and was first uttered in prayer by the godly woman Hannah who, in her distress, longed for a man child whom she would give to the Lord. The result of that prayer was perhaps the greatest of Israel’s Old Testament prophets, Samuel. It is interesting to note the affliction and distress of Hannah in the use of that title: “She was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore” 1Sam.1.10. Compare the significance of the title in that future day when Israel’s affliction and distress will have reached a climax, as they are surrounded by their enemies on every side, who are intent upon the utter destruction of that hated and persecuted remnant.
Perhaps the most memorable occurrence of the title is in Isa.6.3, “And one cried unto another, and said, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.’” How true that will be when He returns in majesty to reclaim this world for His Father! He commands the unquestioning obedience of the unnumbered armies of heaven, assured of their unceasing homage and adoration. He will not, as all previous rulers have done, carve out a small portion of the earth for Himself; all will be His, as the opening verses of this Psalm assert: “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” Hab.2.14.
There was a time when this precious title became most meaningful to the writer of this Psalm as he faced the godless giant Goliath in the valley of Elah: “Then said David to the Philistine, ‘Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied’” 1Sam.17.45.
What a glorious future God has planned for His worthy Son! As the Executor of God’s eternal purpose, He will bring to fruition all that God has entrusted to Him. His competency will never be in doubt: “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for His law” Isa.42.4. “Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet” 1Cor.15.24,25. Not only do we await with glad anticipation His return for His Church, but what gladness will be ours when we see our Beloved, resplendent in His personal and official glory. “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth” Ps.72.8. “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever’” Rev.11.15.
May our hearts’ affections be more drawn to Him presently and may our loyalty be more evident in “the world that now rejects Him, makes nothing of His love”.15
Our longing eyes would fain behold
That bright and blessèd brow,
Once wrung with bitterest anguish, wear
Its crown of glory now.
Thy sympathies and hopes are ours:
We long, O Lord, to see
Creation all, below, above,
Redeemed and blessed by Thee.
15. From the hymn “My Saviour I would own Thee”, by R.H. Taylor.