Ep.065: Psalm 24: It’s all about God.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.

Before I get to Psalm 24 today, we start with a brief review of Psalms 22 and 23.

In Psalm 22, the personal pronouns “me” and “my” occur three times in the opening sentence, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The psalm continues like that with 42 personal pronouns in the first 21 verses,  an average of two per verse. That’s a lot of talk about “me” and “my troubles”. Perhaps the poet’s perspective is, “It’s all about me.” To be fair, in the same 21 verses, he addresses God 17 times. That’s the flavor of Psalm 22: the big me addressing a God who does not seem to care. No wonder it’s classified as a Complaint Psalm.

What about Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd?” In six short verses, there are 17 personal pronouns. That’s almost three per verse, even more than Psalm 22. But Psalm 23 has a different atmosphere. The poet communicates a quiet, peaceful, reflective, secure relationship with God. “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing, he makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.” In this psalm, the poet isn’t focusing on his troubles, he’s focusing confidently on his personal relationship with God. He uses names or pronouns for God 13 times. This Psalm is not all about me. It’s all about me and God.

So, what about Psalm 24: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” Guess how many times the poet mentions “me” in this psalm?  Not once. Not a single mention of “me” or of the poet’s personal experience. Clearly, this psalm is not “all about me” and it’s not “all about me and God.” This time, it’s all about God.

These three psalms are a wonderful triad. They guide us through God’s excruciating absence and through his wonderful presence as shepherd, all the way to joyful worship where we are “lost in wonder, love, and praise” (Charles Wesley, hymn, Love Divine All Loves Excelling). What a great lesson. I wish I only had to learn it once. But life goes through many cycles of desperation, shepherding, and praise. Each experience is a lesson rich with new gifts from God.

Let’s pray.

Our father, thank you for this wonderful triad of psalms. You are our God when you are absent, you are our shepherd when you are present, and you are our king of glory when we forget ourselves and see only you.

“The earth is yours and everything in it, the world and those who live there” (v. 1). We worship you as owner and landlord. We are tenants on land. You own the people–good and evil, the politicians–righteous and corrupt, the entertainers–honest and deceitful, the churchgoers–faithful and hypocritical. The earth is yours, and those who live in it.

With the poet we ask, “Who can ascend your hill and stand in your holy place?” (v. 2). And we hear his  answer, “Those who have clean hands and a pure heart, those who do not worship idols, those who seek your face” (vv. 4-6). Lord, as we live on your land and journey through your world, we often ignore your presence and avoid your temple. Teach us to seek you, to wash our hands, to cleanse our hearts. Teach us to reject the false gods that tempt us. May we climb your hill and worship in your temple.  

“Lift your heads, you mighty gates, be lifted, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is the king of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, he is the king of glory” (vv. 7-10). Lord, lift the gates of our befuddled reason, lift the gates of our unreliable theology, lift the gates of our narrow experience, lift the gates of our human history. Enter, O King of glory, enter.

Amen

I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.

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