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Psalm 24 | Questions About God

One of the commentaries I read on Psalm 24 this week grabbed ahold of the theme of the big questions we ask about God.2 From the moment we are able to articulate complete sentences, we begin asking big questions about life.

Why do lightning bugs butts light up? How do my feet remain on the ground like magnets; why do I not float away? How do I get the attention of that pretty girl or that cute boy on the other side of the classroom? Why did God create mosquitoes? Why do some people think liver and beets taste good?

Our questions evolve over time as we mature and experience the highs and lows of life on this earth. It does not take long to begin asking questions about purpose and value. Why am I here on this earth? What is important to me? What do I want to do with my life? Is there really a God? What is God like? What does God want from me? How can I get to know an invisible being that everyone calls God? The beauty of Psalm 24 is that it answers some of the biggest questions we have about God.

PSALM 24

1The earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 2for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. 3Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. 5He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah. 7Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle! 9Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah

WHO IS GOD? (VV. 1 – 2; 5 – 6; 8; 10)

This is probably one of the biggest questions we ask. Who is God? Some people describe God as an old woman who bakes cookies. Other people envision God as a grouchy old man who hides behind a curtain like the Wizard of OZ. Still, others think that God is more like a genie in a bottle or some invisible sky fairy who grants some of their wishes or shows up sometimes during difficult seasons.

The Psalmist describes God in verses 1 – 2, 5 – 6, 8 and 10 as the Creator, the God of salvation and the King of glory when he says, 1The earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 2for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. 5…the LORD [is] the God of… salvation. 6… [he is] the God of Jacob. 8Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle!… 10Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! When the Psalmist describes God as the Creator and the God of salvation and the King of glory, he is making some really big claims about God.

Think about each of these with me…

#1: THE CREATOR (VV. 1 – 2).

The Psalmist begins by describing God as the owner of the earth and every living creature on it. Why? Why does the Psalmist describe God this way? The answer, according to the Psalmist is that God owns everything because he is the one who created everything; he is the original founder and the one who established every living thing. Therefore, God is the Creator who owns everything because he founded and established all of it.

#2: THE GOD OF SALVATION (VV. 5 – 6).

In verses 5 – 6 the Psalmist says that 5…the LORD [ is] the God of… salvation. 6… [and] the God of Jacob. Why is this important to note? What significance does this description of God hold for us?

The simple answer is that when the Psalmist refers to God as the God of Jacob and the LORD who is the God of salvation, he is referring to a rich history of God’s interaction with the nation of Israel. Historically, the nation of Israel continuously rebelled against God and often found themselves facing the consequences of their rebellion which typically meant that they lived in bondage and slavery to their enemies until God would show up miraculously to save them.

And the Patriarch, Jacob, was known to be the man who wrestled with God because he wanted to not only receive physical blessing, but he also wanted to see God’s face (he wanted to be in God’s presence). This historical title for God, The God Of My Salvation, finds its ultimate fulfillment in the saving work of God in the cross and the empty tomb of Christ. Therefore, God is the God of Jacob, the God of salvation.

#3: THE KING OF GLORY (VV. 8; 10).

The image of a king is something that reminds us of absolute power and authority. Evil enemies of a good king would shrink back in terror at the thought of being in the king’s presence because he had been victorious over them. But subjects of a good king would lean forward with anticipation of being in the king’s presence because they knew that he would take care of them.

The Psalmist knew God as the King of glory who has been victorious over his enemies and continues to care for his people. This is why our Psalmist describes God in a question/answer sort of a way in verses 8 and 10 when he says, 8Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle!… 10Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! The strength and the might and the power and the weightiness of God is captured in his title as the King of glory. There is no enemy and no circumstance that can overpower him. Our greatest enemies: Satan who condemns, Sin who tempts and Death who taunts, do not hold a candle to the power of God who is the King of glory!

HOW DO I GET CLOSE TO GOD? (VV. 6 – 7; 9; 3 – 5)

When you think about who God is (the Creator, the God of Salvation and the King of Glory) it can begin to feel a little bit overwhelming. How could anyone get close to this God? We could think of this in terms of getting close to the founder of the Ford Motor Company or the top General of the United States Army or the President of the United States.

Now, I suppose we can all imagine ways that we could possibly meet any of the people I just mentioned if we jump through the right hoops. But what if we take it a step further and try to imagine what it would be like to become close, personal friends with any of those famous people? What would that be like? What would it take for that to happen? The answer is, first, we would have to want to be friends with those folks and second, those folks would have to want to be friends with us. It is really no different with God.

#1: WE MUST WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH GOD (VV. 6 – 7; 9).

The reality is that we can get close to God if our hearts are open to him and if we seek him. The Psalmist says in verse 6that people who want to be friends with God are people who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. This is the image of someone who wants to be friends with God who continuously searches for their friend with all of their energy and all of their resources. It’s the picture of someone who would wrestle to the point of exhaustion, like Jacob wrestling with God until he received a broken hip, to be friends with God. Wanting to be friends with God is about so much more than wanting the benefits that God gives us; it is about truly wanting to be in God’s presence.

The Psalmist also refers to those people who are seeking after God using the metaphor of the gates of an ancient city or possibly the gates of Heaven (as Jesus was welcomed home after the resurrection) in verses 7 and 9 when he says 7Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 9Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

This is the image of someone who wants to be friends with God to the extent that he opens the doorway and the gateway of the city of his heart so that the King of glory might come in. Recognizing God as the one who deserves the glory is all about obediently giving him the attention and the honor that he deserves. We have to want to be friends with God and the proof that we want to be friends with him is the amount of effort we invest in searching for him and welcoming him obediently into our lives.

#2: GOD MUST WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH US (VV. 3 – 5).

Think again about the founder of the Ford Motor Company or the top General of the United States Army or the President of the United States. The idea that these people would want to be friends with me seems like a far-fetched idea. Why would any of those people want to be friends with little ol’ me? What would it take for any of those people to want to be friends with me in the first place? In the same vein, why would God want to be friends with me?

The Psalmist basically asks and answers this question about God in verses 3 – 4 when he says 3Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. In other words, God wants to be friends with people who have pure hands and pure hearts. Anyone who has never practiced dishonesty or pursued selfish gain can be friends with God. In other words, God wants to be friends with perfect people!

This realization creates some tension in me because I know that I have not been perfect. This seems like a hopeless place to live; trying to be perfect so that God will want to be my friend. The Psalmist knows what it is like to be in this place too so he reminds us in verse 5 that the person whom God wants to be friends with, is the person who will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. In other words, God wants to be friends with the people he has saved.

We can get close to God if we seek him through the salvation he offers. The beauty of the message of the gospel (the message of the entire Bible) is that we cannot come into God’s presence because we are not perfect. Only Jesus could come into God’s presence because only Jesus is perfect. And when we trust in Jesus as the God of our salvation, we can come into God’s perfect, loving, merciful, gracious and faithful presence

Even throughout the Old Testament we have these images of God leaving his place of perfection and coming to his people as the God of salvation who blesses his children as he covers them in his own perfection. God’s constant activity in rescuing his children is the proof that he wants to be our friend.

CONCLUSION…

So, who is God and how do I get close to him? God is the Creator who founded and established the world, and he owns everything in it; he is the King of glory who is strong and mighty in victory over Satan, Sin and Death. You and I can draw close to God if our hearts are open to him and if we seek him through the salvation he offers.

What should we do now that we know who God is and how we can draw close to him? The word “Selah” (which means to stop and to think or to reflect on something) shows up twice in our text (vv. 6; 10) so it makes perfect sense to me that we should stop and think or reflect carefully about who God is and how we can come close to him.

God is the Creator; he is the God of salvation, and he is the King of glory. To draw close to God we have to want to be friends with God and the proof that we want to be friends with him is the amount of effort we invest in searching for him and welcoming him into our lives.

And not only that, but God has to want to be friends with us. God’s constant activity in rescuing his children is the proof that he wants to be our friend. The cross of Christ and the empty tomb and the promise of Heaven are the proof that he wants to be friends with us.

So, it is important to think about the big questions we ask about God, but it is even more important to think about the biblical answers to our questions because the biblical answers to our questions just might transform our lives and give us the rock-solid hope we need to walk through this life.

God is the Creator; he is the God of salvation; he is the King of glory; we need to seek his presence and trust in his work at the cross and the empty tomb and hold fast to the promise of heaven. Amen!


Unless otherwise specified, all Bible references in this paper are to the English Standard Version Bible, The New Classic Reference Edition (ESV) (Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, 2001).

James A. Johnston, The Psalms: Rejoice, the Lord is King (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2015), 253.

1 Comment

  1. Nicol

    Thank you for creating this blog, I have read a few entries and they have helped me so much. Please keep writing.

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