Psalms For our troubled land 

Psalms For Our Troubled Land – Psalm 24

by The Rev. Ross Anderson

The context of this Psalm is probably 2 Samuel 6 when David brought the ark to Jerusalem.

God is creator (v2, cf. Genesis 1), and therefore all the earth and all who live in it are his (v1). South Africa belongs to him – the land and all its people. South Africa never belonged to the colonialists; it never belonged to Shaka; nor to the apartheid government; nor to the ANC or a faction within the ANC. It does not belong to “whites” or “blacks”. We all, and all of South Africa, belongs to God. The sooner we realize this and humble ourselves, the better. That the whole earth and its contents (including South Africa) belong to God is underlined by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:26 (where he quotes from this Psalm).

The Psalmist then asks, “who may ascend the hill of the Lord?” (v3). He refers to Mount Zion, where the ark, the symbol of God’s presence, had been brought. Who may enter God’s presence? Certainly not those who worship idols (v4) live by bribery and corruption, dishonesty, selfishness, violence, and destruction. Only those who have clean hands and pure hearts (v4). And that is only true of those who are in Christ by repentance and faith, for he is our holiness (Ephesians 4:24). And we must live out this holiness in our relationship with God and neighbour (= all South Africans). We are called to godliness, love and justice. Nothing less. Not if we claim to be God’s people, the disciples of Christ.

But we can’t get to Mount Zion! We live tens of thousands of kilometres away – we live in South Africa, on the southern tip of Africa. So what now? Is God not here – only there? Of course not! We don’t need to go to Jerusalem. We should remember that since the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, He is the new temple. The place has become a person. We enter God’s presence in Christ (John 2:19-21). And in Christ, we receive God’s blessing and acceptance (vv5-6). The promises of Psalm 24 are fulfilled in him (2 Corinthians 1:20). And Christ is very much present with us here in South Africa.

The procession bearing the ark has now reached the gates of the city of David (vv7-10). These are such encouraging verses! The Psalmist reminds us that God is the King of Glory, and just in case we miss the point, he repeats it four times (v7, 8, 9 and 10)! He is the Lord (v8). He is strong and mighty (v8). He is the Lord Almighty (v10). As Christians, we cannot help but think of our risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ, who is “Lord of lords and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14; 19:16).

He is the King of Glory, and he reigns over South Africa!

Psalm 24 (NIV)

Of David. A psalm.

  1. The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
  2. for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.
  3. Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?
  4. The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.[a]
  5. They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior.
  6. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.[b][c]
  7. Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
  8. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
  9. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
  10. Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty — he is the King of glory.