Online Bible Commentary
The Earth is the LORD’s, and Everything in It
Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; 2 for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. 3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. 5 He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior. 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob. (NIV)
David begins this psalm at the beginning, creation itself. “The world, and all who live in it” (v. 1) was created by God. In Genesis 1 we see that the earth was first only water. That water was separated into sky and water under the sky, to which was added dry ground. David describes this Genesis account in verse two.
Therefore God is the owner of all that was created. He owns everything that is the creation because He is the Creator Himself. The New Testament tells us this about Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1-3). Christians believe that Jesus is the “LORD” spoken of in this Psalm. Jesus is the Jewish Messiah.
The word translated “LORD” in this passage is the Hebrew word “YHWH”. It is so sacred that it was forbidden to be spoken by the Jews. They used, instead, the synonym word “Adonai”, which is written “Lord”. “YHWH” was used primarily to refer to the covenant God of the first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, the writings of Moses. Jews refer to the Pentateuch as the “Torah”, and treat it as the most important part of their Bible. The contraction “Yah” is also employed as a divine title. There were no vowels in the Hebrew Bible, as originally written. Vowels began to be inserted about 200 A.D. in order to preserve the meaning of the text. Thus “YHWH” became “Yahweh”.
After establishing who is in charge of everything, David turns to how we can be with Him, Jesus, forever. When Jesus returns for His thousand year reign on earth, He will reside in a new temple on the site of “Solomon’s Temple” in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah. David asks “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?” (v. 3). He is asking who will be worthy to be part of God’s kingdom, worthy to go up Mount Moriah and enter the Sanctuary of God.
David then describes those who will be worthy to be part of God’s kingdom (v. 4). These are the believing remnant of Israel and redeemed gentiles. We commonly refer to these as Jewish Christians, referred to as “Messianic Jews”, and Christians. These characteristics themselves do not qualify us as being worthy. They are simply a result of that qualification. We qualify as being worthy by our belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Once we do this the Holy Spirit indwells us and enables us to exhibit these characteristics.
David’s first characteristic is that we must have “clean hands”. Our actions must be righteous and blameless. Secondly, we must have “a pure heart”. We must have sincere motives and a pure mind. Next, we must not “lift up (our) soul to an idol”. The word translated “idol” is the Hebrew word “saw”, which means “worthlessness, vanity, or falseness”. We must put God first in our lives. Everything else is described as worthless, vain, or false. It is not worthy of pursuit. Finally, we must not “swear by what is false”. We must not testify to what is untrue. The Christian will exhibit these characteristics as he allows the Holy Spirit to control his actions.
The Christian “will receive blessing from the LORD” (v. 5a). He will also “receive vindication from God his Savior” (v. 5b). He will finally be vindicated, after being ridiculed and despised by the ungodly. He will be ruling with Jesus, while the ungodly will be receiving the consequences of their unbelief. The word translated “God” (v. 5b) is the Hebrew word “Elohiym”. It is likely used here to mean “God almighty”. “Elohiym” is the most common Hebrew word translated “God” in the Old Testament.
Such is the “generation of those who seek him” (v. 6), those who seek Jesus. The word translated “generation” is the Aramaic word “dor”. It means “generation to come”, when used in this context. It means “the future” for all Christians. Our future is bright. We win in the end. The ungodly; the so-called elite, the so-called enlightened, the humanists, all those who pursue the worthless, vain, and false things of the world, lose in the end.
We “seek Him” by spending time with Him. We spend time with Him at church and through fellowship with other believers. We spend time with Him in prayer, and reading His word, the Bible. We spend time with Him though Bible study, and reading commentaries, such as this. He is our Creator. He died on the cross for us. He loves us. He only wants to spend time with us. The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it. That includes us. We belong to Him.