Sunday, August 11, 2013

Psalm 24

Lines Scansion


1 The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains,
   The world, and those who dwell in it.
2 For He has founded it upon the seas
   And established it upon the rivers.
3 Who may aascend into the hill of the LORD?
   And who may stand in His holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
   Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
   And has not sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive a blessing from the LORD
   And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

6 This is the generation of those who seek Him,
   Who seek Your face—even Jacob. Selah.

7 Lift up your heads, O gates,
   And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
   That the King of glory may come in!
8 Who is the King of glory?
   The LORD strong and mighty,
   The LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O gates,
   And lift them up, O ancient doors,
   That the King of glory may come in!
10 Who is this King of glory?
   The LORD of hosts,
   He is the King of glory. Selah.
Effect of the Metric Center on the Psalm’s Development
This Psalm does not flow quite as smoothly as some others in this series of “center-focused Psalms.” Some scholars question its integrity in suggesting that verses 7-10 were not part of the original Psalm, but such a viewpoint need not be considered certain (The Pulpit Commentary, 172): 
AT first sight this psalm seems to be composed of two quite separate fragments (vers. 1-6 and vers. 7-10); whence Ewald has laid it down that, in their origin, the two parts were wholly separate, and that the union took place subsequently. But a careful consideration reveals points of unity which favour the view that the connection was intended from the first, and is essential and congenital.
The same writer notes, “The psalm is made up of three strophes: vers. 1, 2; vers. 3-6; and vers. 7-10. The first and second are closely connected; the third is a little detached” (The Pulpit Commentary, 173). Davidson (The Vitality of Worship: A Commentary on the Book of Psalms, 86) concurs on the outline: 
Psalm 24 divides neatly into three sections: verses 1-2, a brief hymn celebrating God the creator; verses 3-6, an entrance liturgy similar to what we have seen in Psalm 15; verses 7-10, a liturgical poem celebrating the warrior God coming in triumph to the temple. The common theme which holds these sections together is that of the kingship of God, a theme central to the faith of Israel.
Without agreeing to the “detached” nature of verses 7-10 (The Pulpit Commentary) or the common theme of “kingship” suggested by Davidson, Psalm 24 can be unified under a “worship” classification wherein the “center” ties the whole together and, in doing so, provides the spiritual application. This worship theme is also supported by the probable historical background:
Like Psalm 15, this psalm is a liturgy that was to be used by pilgrims as they came to the Temple in Jerusalem for a religious festival. The psalm begins with a hymn of praise to Yahweh as creator and lord of the universe (verses 1-2). This is followed by a liturgy used by the pilgrims as they request permission to enter the Temple: the question is asked as to who may enter (verse 3), followed by the answer (verses 4-6). The last part of the psalm (verses 7-10) demands entrance for Yahweh, who is probably represented by the Covenant Box, which is being taken into the Temple” (Bratcher and Reyburn, A Translator's Handbook on the Book of Psalms, 237).
The metric center (verse 6) affects the entire Psalm in these particulars: The verse functions (1) to capture climatically the “who” statements that encompass verses 3-5 with the initial demonstrative pronoun (זֶה), (2) to highlight the worship intentions of the worshipers by means of the “continuous action” participles (מבַקְשֵׁי/דֹּרְשָׁיו), Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 39), (3) to   personalize the worship by switching from the third personal pronoun “Him” to the second person “Your,” and (4) to identify “this generation” as “Jacob” (“supplanter”) as opposed to “Israel” (“contender”) thereby broadening the application to worshipers whose background, like that of Jacob, includes less-than-favorable elements.
Another uniting element in this Psalm involves the four-fold use of the interrogative pronoun “who” (מִי), twice asking “who” is qualified to worship Yahweh (verse 3) and twice asking “who” is worthy of worship (verses 7 and 9).
Finally, Yahweh the Creator in verses 1-2 becomes the Warrior in verses 8 and 10, concepts that provide covenantal content for worshippers.