Theme: A Clearly Messianic Psalm
In this week’s lessons we learn how this psalm serves as a Messianic psalm, as Jesus enters into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as Israel’s King.
Scripture: Psalm 24:1-10
I do not know if Psalm 24 has a setting in any event we know of from the Old Testament. But if there is an historical setting, I suppose it is the occasion on which David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem from its temporary resting place in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite (2 Sam. 6). In symbolism, the God of Israel was understood to dwell between the outstretched wings of the two cherubim mounted on the lid of the Ark. So when the Ark was brought to Jerusalem for the first time, it would have been appropriate to have composed a hymn such as Psalm 24 for the occasion. The title of Psalm 24 identifies it as a psalm “Of David.” So David may have composed it himself for the ceremony.
Yet I am not entirely happy with this explanation. At least I am not willing to stop with it. The reason is that, however important and moving the transport of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem by David may have been, it is not nearly as significant as the single occasion on which, much later, the true “King of glory” actually did enter the holy city. I am referring, of course, to the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the day the Christian church calls Palm Sunday.
And there is this interesting fact. The ancient rabbinical sources tell us that in the Jewish liturgy, Psalm 24 was always used in worship on the first day of the week.1 The first day of the week is our Sunday. So, putting these facts together, we may assume that these were the words being recited by the temple priests at the very time the Lord Jesus Christ mounted a donkey and ascended the rocky approach to Jerusalem. The people who were outside the walls, who were approaching Jerusalem with him, exclaimed: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest” (Matt. 21:9)!
Inside the priests were intoning: “Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty—he is the King of glory.”
But the priests were not joining in the cries of acclamation for Jesus, and within days they would conspire to have him executed as a blasphemer. The common people, even though they hailed him as the Lord’s Anointed on Palm Sunday, would be crying, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” before the week was out.
What is a possible historical setting for the composition of this psalm?
What similarities between the life of Christ and this psalm indicate that it came to be understood messianically?
What interesting observation is made from rabbinical sources about how Psalm 24 was used?
What caused some people in Jerusalem to greet Jesus with messianic enthusiasm on Palm Sunday, but then call for his crucifixion later in the same week?
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1Psalm 24 was used on the first day of the week; Psalm 48 on the second day; Psalm 82 on the third day; Psalm 94 on the fourth day; Psalm 81 on the fifth day; Psalm 93 on the sixth day; and Psalm 92 on the seventh, the Jewish sabbath.