140413 Psalm 24

Last Updated on Monday, 14 April 2014 Written by Pastor Pagels

Text: Psalm 24
Theme: Who Is This King Of Glory?

The time: spring in about the year 30 A.D. The place: somewhere along the short stretch of road that led from Bethany to Jerusalem. Throngs of faithful Jews had made the pilgrimage to celebrate the Passover, now only a few days away. As Jesus made his way from the Mount of Olives down into the Kidron Valley and back up to the Holy City, the buzz began to grow.

As Jesus entered the city, the noises grew louder and the crowds grew larger. Many went out to meet him. Some put down their coats in Jesus' path. Others took palm branches and waved them in the air. And the crowds that went ahead joined together with the people who followed, shouting: "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest" (Matthew 21:9)!

The combined accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John give us a vivid picture of what we now call Palm Sunday, but Matthew's account (the gospel lesson for today) includes something that is not recorded in the other gospels. Matthew records an important conversation that took place amid the shouts and cheers: "When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, 'Who is this?' The crowds answered, 'This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee'" (Matthew 21:10,11).

The crowds were at least partially correct. Jesus was a prophet. Jesus was the one Moses spoke about when he said: "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him" (Deuteronomy 18:15). It is true that Jesus came into this world to prophesy, but he also came in fulfillment of prophecy.

And so if we want a complete answer to this question, if we want to know who Jesus really is, we need to ask someone else. We need to ask a man who lived a thousand years before Jesus was born. We need to ask the ancestor of Jesus whose own name echoed through the streets of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

King David is the author of Psalm 24, the appointed psalm for today. And with his inspired poetry David asks and answers a question much like the question the people were asking as Jesus passed through the gates of Jerusalem...


I. He is strong and mighty
II. He is the Lord Almighy

David knew a thing or two about kings. He was a king. He was perhaps Israel's greatest king. He unified the nation. He established the capital. He secured the borders. But he didn't write this psalm to honor himself. He composed these words to give glory to the King of glory, the Lord who is strong and mighty, the God who first demonstrated his divine strength at creation.

The psalm begins: "The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters" (1,2). Before the beginning of time, before the invention of time, there was nothing, nothing except God. But then the LORD changed everything with those three little words: "Let there be."

He said: "Let there be light," and there was light. He said: "Let there be dry land and seas," and there they were. He said: "Let there be plants and planets and fish and birds," and they instantly appeared. He made a man from the ground and a woman from the man. He created everything from nothing. He created everything with his powerful Word.

When God looked at everything he had made he saw that it was good, and when David looked at God's creation he was quick to agree. This is how he put it in another psalm: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Psalm 19:1).

And God's creation still speaks. God's creation speaks to us today. When the dead grass comes back to life, when the flowers bloom, when winter grudgingly gives way to spring, those things say something about our God. The changing seasons proclaim that our God is powerful.

But the evidence of God's power doesn't stop with his creation. When David asked that rhetorical question, "Who is this King of glory?," this was his answer: "The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle" (8).

David is remembered as a warrior king. He fought dozens of battles. He won victory after victory, but he didn't attribute his success to his superior fighting skills. David's first (and perhaps greatest) military victory taught him that the LORD was the source of his strength.

At the time David was barely more than a boy. He wasn't big enough to wear traditional armor. He wasn't strong enough to wield a sword. And so he went to fight against the giant Goliath with only a sling and five smooth stones.

When Goliath saw him, he wasn't impressed. He taunted David. He cursed David. He threatened to feed David's flesh to the birds. But David wasn't afraid, and he didn't back down. He said to Goliath: "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel...the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands" (I Samuel 17:45,47). And God did. David slew the giant. The Israelites routed the Philistines. And the rest is Old Testament history.

That is just one example of how strong and mighty the Lord is. So how would you like to meet him? How would you like to meet the King of glory? How do you think it would feel to stand in his presence? Could you do it? Could anyone do it? David wondered about that too. He asked: "Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place" (3)?

Who can stand in the presence of a holy and righteous God? Who can approach his glorious throne and live? "He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false" (4).
David's directions are simple enough. If you want to stand before God, if you want to come face-to-face with the glory of God, this is what you have to do. You must have clean hands. That means you can't do anything wrong. You must have a pure heart. That means you can't think anything wrong. You can't lift up your soul to an idol. That means you can never put anyone or anything in your life ahead of God.

The directions are simple, but the task is impossible. You don't have to think in terms of your entire life. Just think of this past week. How many of us would like everyone else here today to know everything we did in the past seven days? Or how would you like it if every person you knew could read your mind?

That's a scary thought, but do you know what is even scarier? The Lord can see your every thought. God has a complete file on your life that includes every sin you have ever committed, and he doesn't like what he sees. He can't just let sin go. He can't pretend it's not there. He has to deal with it, but how?

God could have destroyed his corrupt creation, but he didn't. God would have every right to condemn us for our sins, but he hasn't. Instead he punished someone else. Instead he punished someone in our place. His disciples called him "Lord." David called him "the LORD Almighty."

What do you think of when you hear the word, "lord?" Maybe the lord of a castle. Maybe the lord of an estate. For me that title, "lord," communicates the idea of power, someone who is in a position of authority, someone who is in control.

There is a Hebrew word that expresses this kind of idea, but David didn't use that word in Psalm 24. He chose a different word, a very special word. To differentiate this divine name from other titles, the NIV translation puts it in all capital letters (LORD).

The lord of a kingdom rules with force. The LORD Almighty rules with grace. The lord of a castle demands loyalty and service. The LORD Almighty humbled himself and became the servant of all. Medieval lords didn't hesitate to take the life of anyone who rebelled against them. The LORD Almighty gave up his own life to forgive our wickedness and rebellion and sin.

This is the kind of king that inspires people. This kind of servant leader inspires people to follow him. Maybe that's why David called him "the LORD Almighty" (literally, "the LORD of hosts"). The Hebrew word for "hosts" is applied to heavenly beings and heavenly bodies and human armies. And on Palm Sunday we might apply it to the hosts of adoring people who welcomed the Lord as he entered Jerusalem.

They waved at him. They worshiped him. They hailed him as their king. But Jesus knew that the glory would be short-lived. Jesus knew just how fickle people can be. In a few days the shouts and cheers would turn to taunts and jeers. In a few days he would leave the city, not on a beast of burden, but carrying the burden of his own cross.

And when Jesus was lifted up on that cross for all the world to see, he didn't look very strong and mighty. He didn't look like anyone's picture of a king. He looked weak. He looked powerless. He looked defeated.

But even then, even when Jesus was crucified, even though he had set aside his crown, he was still a king. He was still in control. And three days later he proved it. He laid down his life for the sins of the world. He laid down his life only to take it up again. And his resurrection was his emphatic answer to David's one thousand year old question: "Who is this King of glory?" Jesus: "I am! I am the King of glory. I am strong and mighty. I am the Lord Almighty. I am your Savior."

It's appropriate for us to begin Holy Week with a question. As this week unfolds we will encounter many other questions. The disciple Peter will ask Jesus: "Are you going to wash my feet" (John 13:6)? The high priest Caiaphas will ask Jesus: "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One" (Mark 14:61)? The Roman governor Pontius Pilate will ask Jesus: "Are you the king of the Jews" (John 18:33)?

Those questions were asked by three very different people with three very different agendas, but they share a common answer. The answer is: YES. Yes, Jesus did wash his disciples' feet to demonstrate that he came into this world to serve. Yes, Jesus is the Christ, anointed by God the Father to deliver the world from sin. And yes, Jesus is a king. Not just the king of the Jews. He is the king of all. He is our king. He is strong and mighty. He is the Lord Almighty. He is the King of glory. Amen.

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