In the last post we saw how psalms 22 and 23 are linked, as I said in that post: ‘The Lord can only be my shepherd and lead me through the valley of the shadow of death if he himself makes that journey with me, and psalm 22 tells me he does just that.’ I think this prophetic sequence, which began with psalm 22 continues into psalm 24, a coronation psalm which has always been used by the church to reflect on and celebrate the ascension of Christ, understood as the King of Glory in this psalm
Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors: and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is the King of glory: even the Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.
This interpretation throws new light on the crucial question asked earlier in the psalm
Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord: or who shall rise up in his holy place?
The psalm answers that by describing a person of complete holiness, with ‘clean hands and a pure heart’. In the Old Testament perspective only such holy people can ascend and come into the presence of the Holy, and for the Christian only Christ belongs naturally in heaven. And yet because he has atoned for us and we have put our hearts into his, we are able to ascend, not by our own rights, but with and in him. So a psalm that might have been forbidding to us, is transformed by Christ into a Royal Invitation.
As always you can hear me read the poems by clicking on the play button or the title and you can find the other poems in this evolving series by putting the word ‘psalms’ into the search box on the right.
And draw me into his eternity?
But who can rise up to that holy place?
Can all its splendours really be for me?
Before that holy fire I hide my face
My hands were never clean, as for my heart
He’ll search out its impurity and trace
The sources of its sin in every part,
And in the whole, its weariness and stain.
Who can ascend? I cannot even start.
But even as I fear my hopes are vain
My saviour comes, his love revives my hope
I feel him search my wounds, deal with my pain,
And offer me again the healing cup.
Raising my head, he says: Now rise with me
The gates will open for us both, look up!
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