Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
Picture yourself a grand and joyful procession of the thousands of Israel. Leading the procession are members of the house of Levi, bearing the Ark of the Covenant of Jehovah. With them are all their brethren, priests and Levites, singers and players on musical instruments. David the King, the sweet psalmist of Israel, clothed with a robe of fine linen and an ephod of linen, is a leading member of the joyful throng. The elders of Israel and the captains over thousands are there. “Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps,” I Chron. 15:28.
They approach Mount Zion, formerly the fortress of the Jebusites, where David had prepared a tent for the Ark of God.
And as they reach the foot of Zion’s mount and sweep up the slope, you can hear them singing,—singing of the power and glory of Jehovah, and of them who only may ascend His holy hill, to dwell in His presence, those who have clean hands and a pure heart, the covenant generation of them that seek the God of Jacob.
But as they reach the gate of Zion’s city, formerly the stronghold of the enemy, their song changes.
One of the approaching procession sings like the herald of an approaching king, addressing the gates of the City of Zion. “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in!”
And from within the gates someone asks the question: “Who is this King of glory?”
From the approaching procession comes the glad and triumphant response: “The Lord strong and mighty! The Lord mighty in battle!”
Jehovah of Hosts is ascending to Zion, the Mount of His holiness!
A glad and joyful occasion that was!
The Lord Jehovah, Israel’s glorious King, had chosen Israel as His people. He had given them His precepts and statutes. Out of the house of bondage He had delivered them with a mighty hand and with a stretched out arm. He had saved them and protected them from all the power of their enemies. A place, a place of covenant rest, he had prepared for them in the land of Canaan. Moreover, He had chosen Jerusalem as the city of His habitation among His people. More particularly, He had appointed Mount Zion, one of the hills of Jerusalem, as the place of His throne. There He would establish His power and majesty and sovereignty. From Zion He would rule over all His people. From Zion would go forth His law, and from thence would proceed the Word of His blessing.
This is the Kingdom whose realization is celebrated in this psalm.
Or rather, the coming of this glorious King into His kingdom is celebrated with music and song of praise!
It is the time when Jehovah takes His place on Mount Zion!
For a long time a large part of the land of Canaan had remained in the power of the enemies, enemies who dwelt particularly in the cities and strongholds of the land. There had even been times when it appeared as though the children of Israel might be dispossessed. Yea, there were times when it appeared as though Jehovah had forsaken His people, times when the Ark, that mighty and holy and glorious symbol of God’s presence, was resting far away.
But now, at last, in David’s time the Lord of Hosts had given to His people the complete victory. The boundaries of the kingdom had been extended to their promised ideal. All the enemies of God’s people were subjugated. Even the strong fortress of the Jebusites in the heights of Jerusalem had been captured.
Jehovah, the I AM, Whose counsel shall stand and Who doeth all His good pleasure, had proved Himself faithful to His covenant. Plainly He demonstrated that all His promises are sure.
The Lord strong and mighty He had shown Himself to be!
The Lord mighty in battle!
For He it was—not an arm of flesh, not horses and chariots—but He, Whose name is Jehovah, Jehovah of Hosts, Who had given His people the victory over all their enemies!
As the King of glory He had revealed Himself indeed! For is not His glory the radiation of all His infinite perfections? And were not those perfections—His truth and faithfulness, His lovingkindness and mercy, His righteousness and justice, His power and might—revealed when He fought for His people and gave them the victory?
And now He enters in. For the Ark which is being brought from the house of Obed-Edom is nothing less than the visible representation of His throne, of His sovereignty, of His divine majesty.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates of Zion!
Even lift them up, ye everlasting doors!
God, Jehovah, the King of all the earth, Whose earthly representative is David, the man after His own heart, doth enter into His kingdom, doth establish His throne on Mount Zion!
Our God and our King is He!
For that Ark is the heart of tabernacle and temple. It was made first in the holy mount; and around: it were constructed the most holy place, the sanctuary, and the court. And thus it is also on Mount Zion. True, there is only a tent, a temporary habitation, when Israel brings the Ark to Zion’s hill. But essentially God’s habitation is there, His dwelling-place among His people. And before long, the entire temple will arise around that Ark, in order that the Lord God may dwell among His people.
The King Who enters into His kingdom, therefore, is our Covenant God. King is He, indeed; but the King Who dwells among His people as their Friend, communing with them and blessing them. He rules them in His love and favor. And He rules over all their enemies by His mighty power for the sake of and for the benefit of His people. Moreover, His people are His subjects, obeying His law, doing His will, serving Him; but even as He is their Friend-Sovereign, so they are His friend-servants. All their service of His is from friend ship, covenant friendship, and in love.
Thus joyous Zion sings: Lift up your heads, O ye gates!
Let the kingdom, the glorious kingdom in which our God is our Friend-Sovereign be established!
The Lord mighty in battle stands before you!
All of this, however, was but a shadow of things to come.
Surely, it was also real. In a very real sense God dwelt among His people Israel. He blessed them with the blessings of His covenant of friendship; and they served Him as His covenant people.
But the reality was still veiled in shadows. Mount Zion was after all a shadow of God’s right hand, His place of glory in the heavens. The most holy place was but a shadow of the heavenly sanctuary. The ark was but an earthly shadow of the throne of God. The temple was only a type of His heavenly tabernacle with men. David was but a shadow of Him through Whom the Lord mighty in battle would reveal Himself and give unto His people the real victory and the real inheritance.
On the same basis, the ascent of the Ark of the Covenant was also typical. That occasion was not the only, not the full, not the final realization of the truth expressed in this song of Zion.
And if even the shadow was so glorious that it caused all Zion to shout with a voice of triumph, how much more glorious must the reality be. . . .
Lift up your heads, O ye gates! Let the King of glory come in!
Who is this King of glory?
Our Lord Jesus Christ!
He is the King of glory. For He is Jesus, Jehovah-Salvation! He is the real King. He is the Lord and David combined in one. He is Immanuel, God with us. He is the Lord Himself, and yet the perfect Servant of Jehovah. He is the King under God, and yet God Himself. And He is the King of glory: for He has been exalted at His resurrection. The mortal has put on immortality. The weak has put on strength. The earthly, now, at the moment of His ascension, is clothed with heavenly glory!
He is mighty in battle!
The strong fortress of sin and death and hell He entered. And all our foes—sin, death, the prince of’ darkness, the wicked world—all of the foes of His Kingdom of righteousness and truth and peace and life eternal and glory He has completely overcome. Yea, He has overcome them by His death and the shedding of His blood! For the real battle of the ages is a spiritual one; and that spiritual battle He has fought to the very end, and gained the victory!
Lift up your heads, O ye everlasting doors!
The King of glory, our Lord Jesus Christ, has the right to enter in.
Ye everlasting doors of heaven, which were closed to us, closed to our human nature, by reason of sin: remains not closed! He has opened you by His death!
Sing, O Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
With a voice of triumph!
Open, ye gates of heaven, that the King of glory—our King and our God—may come in and be seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high!
For He is Jehovah, mighty in battle! He has conquered all our foes!
Open to Him, and through Him to us! For through His blood and Spirit, in faith’s union with Him, we are of clean hands and a pure heart! He is ourKing, and we are His people. He, and through? Him God, reigns among us, over us, in us. He reigns as our Covenant Friend over us, His covenant people!
Open, ye gates!
And remain open—until every last one of His friends, every member of His royal priesthood, has entered after Him!
Do ye hear, O everlasting doors?
Sing, O daughter of Jerusalem! Shout, O Zion, with a shout of triumphant hope!
For there is still a prophetic note in this song of Zion. Though in principle and centrally the glorious Kingdom of grace is established in Christ, the King of glory, Who is in heaven, Who has all power, and Who rules over all; though, too, His kingdom is established and realized in our hearts, so that the power of sin and death in us is overcome, so that He is our Lord and we His friends, and so that we are partakers of His heavenly resurrection-life; yet all is not finished. We, His subjects, are still imperfect, both spiritually and physically. In the world the enemy still raves and causes God’s people to suffer. Besides, the whole creation has not been finally delivered from the curse; the new heavens and the new earth are not yet.
But lift up your heads, O ye gates!
He is coming! He, the King of glory!
He is coming all through this dispensation—even as He opens the seals, causes the trumpets to be sounded, and the vials to be poured out! He is coming through all the events of this present time, and they all must be subservient to His coming!
He is completing His kingdom and calling His elect subjects by His Spirit and Word!
He is coming, finally, on the clouds! Then shall the King of glory enter into the full manifestation of His covenant and kingdom. Then shall all the enemies be destroyed forever. Then shall the tabernacle of God be with men forever!
Shout it in hope, O Zion! Lift up your heads, O ye gates!
And, O Bride of Christ, let your shout be accompanied by prayer and supplication: “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!”
And, praying, watch! Watch, that ye may keep yourselves pure as He is pure. For who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Who shall stand in His holy place? He that is of clean hands and a pure heart. Outside, forever, will be they that love iniquity.
Be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors!
The King of glory is approaching, coming quickly!
He will enter in!
And He will bring us, His people, with Him—without spot or wrinkle!
Shout it, O Jerusalem!
With a voice of triumph!