Christ’s Homecoming – Psalm 24

Introduction: David wanted to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem. For some time now the ark had resided in the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah (2 Sam. 6:3). David’s intentions were good, but the choices he made for the transportation of the ark were disastrous. Contrary to the strict instructions for moving the ark, David placed it on a new ox cart. David’s disrespect for God’s method of moving led indirectly to the death of Uzzah. The ark never made it to Jerusalem, but “continued in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months” (2 Sam. 6:11), after which a second attempt was made for bringing the ark to “the city of David.” This time David acknowledged that “none ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites” (1 Chron. 15:2). And thus, preparations were made, and the proceedings went forward.

Imagine the pageantry as the procession of Levites carrying the ark neared the city. “It was so, that when they that bare the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings” (2 Sam. 6:13). David “danced before the Lord” and there was much “shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet” (2 Sam. 6:15). It was a great occasion, and reverence for God was evident on the part of the people involved. Out of this historical background David penned the words of Psalm 24. But it was not David who originated the words. That was the task of the Holy Spirit. Looking across the mountain peaks of time, the Holy Spirit could see our Savior ascending to the Ancient of Days to receive His Kingdom and authority. It is the King of kings of whom the Holy Spirit wrote. In so doing, the Spirit of God that guided the prophets of old (2 Pet. 1:19-21) guided David to write this Psalm. There are some additional passages we want to get before us. One of these is Luke 24:50-53: And he led them out until they were over against Bethany: and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, blessing God. Another passage that is vital for our study is in Daniel 7:13-14:

I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Psalm 24 forms a ‘triptych.’ Defined, the word means “a picture (such as an altarpiece) or carving in three panels side by side” (Mirriam-Webster, online). Roy Deaver titles the three Psalms (22, 23 and 24) “the Savior, the Shepherd, and the Sovereign” (75). Psalm 22 looks across the mountain peaks of tie and envisions the crucifixion of our Lord. Psalm 23 envisions Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Psalm 24 envisions our Lord ascension – His Homecoming!

Homecoming! What thoughts does this word conjure up in your mind? Someone said that “homecoming unites the past and the present.” If truth be told, homecoming never grows old. Homecoming means coming home to what is in your heart.

This Psalm is a beautiful study of our Lord’s homecoming. Yes, the background is that of bringing the ark of God back to Jerusalem. But there is language throughout the Psalm that simply cannot refer to that event. This Psalm points its readers to a far-off event that is far greater than the event we read about in 2 Samuel 6 or 1 Chronicles 15. In this Psalm we will see the Lord AT home (vss. 1-3), the Lord AWAY from home (vss. 4-6), and the Lord ARRIVING back home (7-10). Then we will close with some comments on our homecoming.

Christ AT Home

It is an indisputable fact that our Lord is NOT a created being, as some teach. A good study of John 1:1-14 reveals the eternal nature of our Lord, as does Philippians 2:5-8. John 12:37-41 helps me understand exactly Who it was that Isaiah saw in the 6th chapter of his prophecy! It was Jesus Christ, the King of glory!

The significant point to be made here is the glories that our Lord enjoyed prior to His incarnate state. We see in the Psalm the sovereignty of our Savior: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: the world, and they that dwell therein.” Isaiah likewise saw the sovereignty of our Lord in Isaiah 40:15: “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are accounted as the small dust of the balance.”

Second, we see in these verses the supremacy of our Savior. He created the world (John 1:3), and as Creator He is supreme over all things, all people, all lands.

Third, in these verses we see our Savior as sustainer. “He founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” We learn from Hebrews 1:3 that our Lord “upholds all things by the word of his power.”

What, then, is the meaning of verse 3? Here is a transition verse. It is as if he were asking, “Who else would we expect to be able to enter the hill of Jehovah? Who else would we expect to stand in the very Holy Place of the Almighty?” If this is what he is asking, then what follows is a list of character traits in the ABSOLUTE or ULTIMATE sense as they apply to our Savior.

Christ AWAY from Home

These first three verses give us a glimpse of Jesus AT home. And yet the truly amazing thing in the scriptures is that our Lord gave all that up to come to this world (Phil. 2:5-8). He LEFT HOME. Mark Weaver was telling me yesterday that after attending school here, he was tempted to just stay in West Virginia. Why? It is HOME! And how many of those of you who are Alumni have the same feelings – it feels like home! Now, imagine our Savior, at home with the Father – comfort, peace, no suffering, etc. Yet, He was willing to give that up – to leave home and come to this earth to SHOW US WHO IT IS THAT SHALL ASCEND TO THE HILL OF JEHOVAH, AND EVENTUALLY STAND IN THE PRESENCE OF THE ALMIGHTY.

Now consider our Savior. He was at home with the Father, and He chose to come FROM home to this world. He came at the right moment (“in the fulness of time”). He came with the right mission (“to seek and save the lost”). He came with the right motive (“he so loved the world”). He came to be our martyr by giving His blood for us as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.

Why is it that when so many young people leave home that they take liberties with what they were taught at home? The prodigal left his father’s home and spent all he had in wasteful living. The story of the prodigal is the story of so many who are away from home. But not so with our Savior.

It is important to mention right here that we are, at this moment, away from home. “This world is NOT my home. The words of John remind us that all that in the world is not of the Father (1 John 2:15-17). We are “sojourners” and “strangers” in this world (1 Pet. 2:11).

So, let us consider our behavior while we are away from home. First, we must keep our hands clean. “He that hath clean hands.” Similar language appears in 15:2 where it speaks of God’s people. The language is obviously figurative, symbolizing the actions and deeds of a person. Pilate “washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person” (Matt. 27:24). It is not hygienically clean hands that will permit a man to ascend to the hill of God, but deeds and actions that are honorable in the sight of God. Having clean hands is equivalent to being upright.

Second, our Lord has a pure heart in the ultimate sense. Will we follow in His train? While the outward actions are extremely important, so also is the inner man, and “clean hands” are of no value apart from a clean heart (Matt. 5:8). “The pure in heart shall see God, all others are but blind bats; stone-blindness in the eyes arises from stone in the heart. Dirt in the heart throws dust in the eyes” (Spurgeon).

Third, he “Who has not lifted up his soul unto falsehood” (vs. 4). The Psalmist had in mind vain worship and/or life. If a man ever expects to stand in the presence of God, he must put aside the trivial pursuits of this life and focus his attention on a life that is meaningful and in line with God’s will. To “lift up one’s soul” is to offer up one’s praise to his object of worship (Isa. 41:24; 1 Cor. 8:6). Romans 12:1 is the New Testament equivalent of this action: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” What is your object of worship, dear reader? Do the trinkets of life draw you to idol worship? Or do you love those eternal values that are more substantial than the “pleasures of sin for a season”?

Fourth, “And hath not sworn deceitfully.” The child of God is a man of honor, and his word is his bond. Those who would make false accusations, defraud, or slander another have no place in God’s presence.

The ULTIMATE application is only found in Christ. He was sinless, tempted in all points like us. What gives Him the authority to come into the very presence of the Father? HIS HIGH AND HOLY ESTATE!!! In the relative sense, these traits apply to all of us. We must be holy. We must have a hatred for sin. We, like Isaiah, must see God as He is so we an see ourselves as we are.

Christ ARRIVING home

These verses cannot be speaking of David! Nor that entourage that accompanied him into Jerusalem. The language will not allow that. This is a picture of our Lord coming home to the Father.

For one things the “doors” and “gates” here are said to be everlasting. This is not Jerusalem! These are not the gates of that city; these gates are far more permanent. The gates that David referred to where the physical gates – subject to decay, destruction, desolation, and desolation.

But the gates that the prophecy refer to are the gates that opened or our Lord to enter into the presence of the Father. Those same gates will open for us one day. Twelve gates, each one made of a single pearl. Those gates will open to a city where there is no crime, no sin, no death, no tears, and no separation.

Then notice WHO it is that is entering these gates the Psalmist refers to. It is Jehovah Himself. He is King of glory! So many kings manage to shame themselves for it is true that power corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

This King is mighty – mighty in battle! You want an example of His might in battle? Ask Sennacherib, who lost an army of more than 185,000 at the hand of the angel of God. Ask the servant who when asked about those who were for them being more than those he could see surrounding the city. And his eyes were opened and he saw the chariots of God surrounding the enemy! Beloved, we need to open our eyes and see the God Who fights for us!

We see the portals, the Potentate, the power, and the prestige of He Who enters these gates.

When these gates opened our Lord and Savior approached the Ancient of Days and took His position at the right hand of the Father to receive His dominion, and He sits even now at the right hand of the Father! He has ARRIVED home!

Our Homecoming

We have seen our Lord AT home, AWAY from home, and ARRIVING home. There is so much in the Psalm that simply cannot apply to mortal man. But like the Psalm we studied last night (Psalm 16), there are some things that are fitting as we consider OUR homecoming.

Have you ever noticed the songs in our songbooks that refer to heaven? In your songbooks here at this congregation I counted 62 songs that refer to heaven in one sense or another:

(1) “Above the bright blue”
(2) “Beyond the Sunset”
(3) “Sing to me of heaven”
(4) “This world is not my home”
(5) “Sing On”
(6) “Wonderful City of God”

The ancients looked for that city whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10). It is said that Moses “refused to be called the so of Pharoah’s daughter, choosing to share ill treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:24-25).

So, who is it that will enter those same gates through which our Savior passed to come into the very presence of God? It is those who are described in verses 3-6. It is those who are described in Psalm 15, a Psalm of similar nature. It is those who follow the beatitudes of Matthew 5. It is those who produce the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. It is those who add to their faith the virtues of 2 Peter 1:5-8.

The point? Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people!! YOU ARE NOT ACCIDENTLY GOING TO JUST HAPPEN TO AWAKE ONE DAY AND FIND YOURSELF IN HEAVEN!!

When I Step Across the Threshold
By Floyd Cantwell

Soon shall come the time of parting,
O how glorious it will be;
When I step across the threshold
Of the mansion built for me.

Free from earthly care and sorrow,
Safe at last in heaven’s bourn!
When I step across the threshold
On that great triumphant morn.

There to rest in peace forever,
There eternity to spend,
When I step across the threshold
And my journey here shall end.

Needless then all earthly treasures;
Riches there I’ll find untold;
When I step across the threshold
Of that city paved with gold.

I shall wonder at His mercy,
At his gracious love and care,
When I step across the threshold
To that land so bright and fair.

There I’ll hear the angel chorus
In praising voices blend;
When I step across the threshold
Where time shall never end.

And I’ll meet departed loved ones
On yonder golden strand
When I step across the threshold
Into the promised land.

But to greet my loving Savior,
The greatest joy of all,
When I step across that threshold
In answer to His call (229).

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