Psalm 24

Continuing with my “on again, off again” quoting of a psalm from the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament on this blog, let’s take a look at Psalm 24 which is a psalm composed by David.

In an article published on September 9, 2020, titled, Psalm 24: The Earth Is the Lord’s, and Everything In It,” by Guy Roberson, contributor on PeopleForJesus.org, he writes:

The question this Psalm asks is one of the most important any man or woman can think about: “What does God require of me?” This is the ultimate issue that everyone faces, a question everyone must answer. The danger with the big questions of life, of course, is that we seldom stop to think about them. This Psalm brings us face-to-face with the ultimate issue of life and forces us to think about it….

First, if we are going to enter the Lord’s presence we should reflect on His sovereign supremacy. His unique majesty is displayed for us daily in the heavens and the earth. By observing God’s glorious creation, we see what a distinct privilege it is to enter His presence. He owns the earth—everything and everyone in the world (v. 1), even if you think you own it. Not only does God hold title to the earth but also to everything in it (v. 1b). This is what is meant by the fullness thereof. All that fills the earth, everything contained in it, also belongs to Him. “Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it” (Deut. 10:14). John Wesley stated this correctly: “When the Possessor of heaven and earth brought you into being, and placed you in this world, he placed you here not as a proprietor, but a steward.”

By what right does God claim title to the earth and everything in it? Simply stated, it is His because He made it. The psalmist points us back to creation, the founding of the earth out of the waters, as God’s right to the earth. The Almighty spoke the earth into existence out of nothing (Gen. 1-2; cp. Rom. 1:18-32).

Second, we were created for God, for His pleasure and for the purpose of worshipping Him (Col. 1:16Rev. 4:11). We fulfill our purpose of glorifying God also by living our lives in relationship and faithful service to Him (1 Sam. 12:24John 17:4). King Solomon tried living for his own pleasure, yet at the end of his life he concluded that the only worthwhile life is one of honor and obedience to God (Eccl. 12:13–14).

Third, we should realize what an indescribable privilege it is to be invited into the presence of the Lord, but we have nothing to offer Him but ourselves, our hearts, our time, and our affection. Picture the joyous scene as the Israelites carried the ark of the covenant up the hill to the city of Zion. Their excitement grew with every step and the words of this psalm filled the air as they marched, reminding them of the qualifications for their sacred service. Soon they would enter the Lord’s holy place. As they climbed the hill to Jerusalem, they were forced to examine themselves, to search their hearts and lives for any impurity.

Fourth, we, too, should concentrate on offering our inner character and outward actions to the Lord. Notice what the Psalm has to say about this: “The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god” (v. 4). The results: You will receive God’s blessing and His righteousness (v. 5). (Quote source and the rest of the article is available at this link.)

Here are the ten verses found in Psalm 24 (NIV):

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
He is the King of glory.

In an article published on July 11, 2020, titled, Psalm 24–His Glory Redeems the Earth,” by Bunni Pounds, contributor on ChristiansEngaged.org, she writes the following at the end of her article:

We are commanded here in this Psalm [24] to open up the gates and the doors of our lives regardless of how heavy they are… and with that command comes a promise that the “King of glory shall come in.” They might seem heavy or impossible at times to lift up, but God is mightier. The Lord is mighty in battle. He is the Lord of hosts. As we seek Him by making ourselves available to His presence and receiving the power of His blood, the gates of our hardened and stony hearts spring open and we find freedom. He comes rushing in and overtakes our rejections, our sin patterns, and our numb hearts. 

God is not just the King but the “King of glory” and His glory comes into our lives and changes us forever.

Then we pause like the word Selah implies here at the end of this Psalm. [Selah is found twice in Psalm 24 NKJV at the end of verse 6 and at the end of verse 10.]

Selah literally means–Stop and think about it. We take a break in His presence. We stand in His glory that is unmatched. The earth, as it pertains to our lives, is redeemed and the fullness of His glory changes everything. “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.”

Political Corner: In a career or activity that most people, not just Christians, think is dirty and difficult, it is important that people of faith that engage in politics understand that God has a purpose for all institutions. We are called to bring righteousness into the political arena laying down our anger, fears, and pride, and walking with a pure heart in a system that is all about who gets the most power and influence and navigating it with humility. Jesus has called us to be salt and light–so that means we bring His redemption even into politics. It is time for some servant leaders in this field. Let’s not be short-changed by doing politics like the world system does it. (Quote source here.)

A closing thought on Psalm 24 from verse 10 comes from BibleRef.com and states:

This closing verse of Psalm 24 describes the glorious King as “the LORD of hosts.” This divine title occurs well over two hundred times in the Old Testament. Its first occurrence is in 1 Samuel 1:3. Isaiah and Jeremiah combined use this phrase well over one hundred times.

The name “LORD of hosts” identifies the Lord as eternal and ruler over all the angels and stars. The title reflects the truth that, although Israel’s earthly king was David, her real king was Yahweh. Prophetically, the glorious king who will enter Jerusalem is the Lord Jesus. He is the Lord of heaven and earth by virtue of creation and redemption. Colossians 1:15–17 describes Jesus as having created everything in heaven and on earth, not only visible objects but invisible. The invisible would include the angelic host. He also holds everything together. Someday the Lord of hosts will return to earth with mighty angels to execute judgment on unbelievers and to reign from the throne of David (Isaiah 9:6–7). (Quote source here.)

I’ll end this post with the words from Psalm 24:10 (NKJV) which states:

Who is this King of glory?. . .

The Lord of hosts . . .

He is the King of glory. Selah . . . .

YouTube Video: “Psalm 24” by the Prestonwood Choir & Orchestra , October 20, 2019:

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The Future of America

Here in America yesterday we celebrated the 4th of July and the 246th birthday of our nation since the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 (see the post, The 4th of July,” published on my main blog.) In the research I conducted for that post regarding this particular American holiday, I found varying views.

In my email this morning I found a link to an article published today (July 5, 2022) on The Christian Post titled, In historic low, only 38% extremely proud to be an American: Gallup,” by Anugrah Kumar, a Christian Post contributor. Here is some of the statistics from his article:

A new Gallup poll has found that only 38% of adults in the United States say they are “extremely proud” to be American, the lowest percentage recorded since the analytics and advisory company began asking the question in 2001.

Gallup suggests the revelation may not be surprising given that the poll was conducted between June 1 and 20, at a time when “a pandemic-weary public is struggling with the highest U.S. inflation rate in more than four decades.” The survey was conducted among a random sample of 1,015 U.S. adults.

In addition, Gallup added, the poll was held soon after mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, which claimed 31 lives, including 19 children. It also preceded the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

The 38% expressing extreme pride is four percentage points lower than in 2020 and nearly 20 points lower than it was a decade ago, according to the survey.

However, 65% of U.S. adults still express pride in the nation, the survey found. About 27% say they are “very proud,” another 22% say they are “moderately proud,” and 9% say they are “only a little.”

The combined 65% for those who are “extremely” or “very proud” is two points lower than in 2020. Only 4% say they are “not at all” proud.

The poll shows that Republicans (58%) continue to be ahead of Democrats (26%) and Independents (34%) in showing pride in being American.

It also reveals that 72% of men are “extremely” or “very proud” to be American, compared to 60% of women.

Age-wise, about 80% of Americans aged 55 or older are “extremely” or “very proud” of their nationality, and the percentage drops to 64% among those aged 35 to 54, and 48% among those aged 18 to 34.

Another Gallup survey, conducted around the same time, shows that only a quarter of U.S. adults have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the Supreme Court, the lowest since 1973.

In a Gallup survey in May, only 18% of American adults said they approved of the way Congress was handling its job…. (Quote source here.)

As noted in this article, “age-wise, about 80% of Americans aged 55 or older are ‘extremely’ or ‘very proud’ of their nationality,” and the drop in percentage occurs in the younger generations aged 54 and below. So what will this nation look like as those who are currently 55 and older die over the next few decades? Of course, there are other factors that enter into the direction America is taking going forward, too.

I came across that list of factors this morning in an article published on March 5, 2021, titled The Life Cycles of Empires and Nations,” by Sajjad Choudhury, Product Operations Manager at Onfido. He notes that there are seven stages that all nations have followed in history and that are they still following today. In the opening of his article, he quotes the German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831):

“What experience and history teach is this—that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.” [From: Lectures on the Philosophy of World History: Introduction (1830, tr. H. B. Nisbet, 1975) introduction; quote source here.]

He includes a description of these seven stages in his article at this link. I also discovered that I had published a blog post on my main blog back on October 20, 2016, titled, Now is the Time,” that also mentions these same seven stages from an article published on July 6, 2011, titled, The Life Cycles of Empires: Lessons for America Today? by Eric Snow, a contributor on Beyond Today. The following is taken from the Snow article:

Seven steps in the life cycles of great powers

Glubb Pasha [Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb,1897-1986, who was a British soldier, scholar and author] learned that different empires had similar cultural changes while experiencing a life cycle in a series of stages that could overlap. He generalized about empires having seven stages of development, identifying these successive ages as follows:

1. The age of outburst (or pioneers).
2. The age of conquests.
3. The age of commerce.
4. The age of affluence.
5. The age of intellect.
6. The age of decadence.
7. The age of decline and collapse.

Each stage helps progression to the next as the values of the people change over time. Military, political, economic and religious developments all influence an empire’s people to act and believe differently over time. (Quote source here.)

Snow notes the following regarding Stage 7: The age of decline and collapse:

What are some key signs of decline?

What are some common features of an empire’s culture in its declining period? Glubb describes developments like these:

1. Rampant sexual immorality, an aversion to marriage in favor of “living together” and an increased divorce rate all combine to undermine family stability. This happened among the upper class in the late Roman Republic and early Empire. The first-century writer Seneca once complained about Roman upper-class women: “They divorce in order to re-marry. They marry in order to divorce.”

The birthrate declines, and abortion and infanticide both increase as family size is deliberately limited. The historian W.H. McNeill has referred to the “biological suicide of the Roman upper classes” as one reason for Rome’s decline. Homosexuality becomes publicly acceptable and spreads, as was the case among the ancient Greeks before Rome conquered them.

2. Many foreign immigrants settle in the empire’s capital and major cities. The mixture of ethnic groups in close proximity in these cosmopolitan places inevitably produces conflicts.

Because of their prominent locations within the empire, their influence greatly exceeds their percentage of the population. Here diversity plainly leads to divisiveness.

We see this today in the growing conflict in European countries such as France and the Netherlands, where large numbers of immigrants are stoking violent cultural clashes. German chancellor Angela Merkel [note: this article was published in 2011] recently made headlines when she stated that attempts to create a multicultural society had “utterly failed” and immigrants must do more to integrate into society.

3. Both irresponsible pleasure-seeking and pessimism increase among the people and their leaders. The spirit described in 1 Corinthians 15:32 spreads throughout society: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

As people cynically give up looking for solutions to the problems of life and society, they drop out of the system. They then turn to mindless entertainment, to luxuries and sexual activity, and to drugs or alcohol.

The astonishingly corrupt and lavish parties of the Roman Empire’s elite are a case in point. The Emperor Nero, for instance, would spend the modern equivalent of $500,000 for just the flowers at some banquets.

4. The government provides extensive welfare for the poor. In the case of the city of Rome, which had perhaps 1.2 million people around A.D. 170, government-provided “bread and circuses” (food and entertainment) helped to keep the masses content. About one half of its non-slave population was on the dole at least part of the year.

True, helping the poor shows Christian compassion (Mark 14:7). But such help also can lead to laziness and dependency (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12). Such problems are especially likely when the poor believe state-provided charity is a permanent right or entitlement.

Is America on a downward cultural and spiritual spiral?

Considering this list of indicators of an empire’s cultural and moral decline, is it reasonable to deny that the United States has entered the stages of decadence and decline?

True, the tidal wave of social and cultural decay unleashed by the 1960s in America has ebbed some in recent years. The rates of abortion, divorce, illegitimate births, drug abuse, welfare dependency and violent crime have either declined or gone up much more slowly.

Furthermore, some indicators of decline have good, not just bad, results. For instance, some immigration is helpful. As skilled, educated immigrants arrive, they normally benefit America economically while being a “brain drain” from Third World countries. And, indeed, the United States has historically embraced vast numbers of immigrants.

Nevertheless, the present flood of immigrants, legal or illegal, equals in impact the wave that arrived at America’s shores around 1900. Today, they are far more apt to be a divisive force. Why? Unlike a hundred years ago, America’s intellectual elite overall has adopted multiculturalism (the promotion of immigrants maintaining their prior distinct cultures) and has rejected assimilation (adopting the existing national culture) as its ideal.

Today multiculturalism is the ideology underlying a potentially ultimate political Balkanization, wherein society is fragmented along ethnic and cultural lines. (For evidence, see the liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger’s 1991 bookThe Disuniting of America). A lack of cultural unity inevitably leads to conflict in a free society such as in the United States. (Quote source here.)

Note that Snow’s article was published back in 2011, long before the Covid-19 pandemic started in March 2020, and the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in May 2020 that started the rioting outbreaks in cities across America, along with Cancel Culture, the January 6th insurrection, #MeToo, BLM, the mass shootings, and everything else that has transpired leading to the latest polarization on the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court handed down on June 24, 2022. One can hardly take a breath before some new dividing point makes the headlines on the national news and social media. Let’s not even talk about the ever increasing inflation rate that is ongoing for who knows how much longer, and will prices ever go back down?

In Snow’s concluding remarks in his article, he writes:

Are we paying attention?

How should we react to the historical insights of Sir John Glubb Pasha’s “The Fate of Empires and the Search for Survival” as they relate to America, Britain and other related English-speaking nations?

As he notes in his examination of a number of previous empires, the processes of history often repeat themselves. We shouldn’t believe that America will automatically avoid the fate of other great empires that declined and fell in the past. (Quote source here.)

This brings us to the topic of hope. A Christian’s hope is not based on the survival of a nation, whether it is America or any other nation on the globe. A Christian’s hope is defined as follows (per GotQuestions.org):

Most people understand hope as wishful thinking, as in “I hope something will happen.” This is not what the Bible means by hope. The biblical definition of hope is “confident expectation.” Hope is a firm assurance regarding things that are unclear and unknown (Romans 8:24-25Hebrews 11:17). Hope is a fundamental component of the life of the righteous (Proverbs 23:18). Without hope, life loses its meaning (Lamentations 3:18Job 7:6) and in death there is no hope (Isaiah 38:18Job 17:15). The righteous who trust or put their hope in God will be helped (Psalm 28:7), and they will not be confounded, put to shame, or disappointed (Isaiah 49:23). The righteous, who have this trustful hope in God, have a general confidence in God’s protection and help (Jeremiah 29:11) and are free from fear and anxiety (Psalm 46:2-3).

The New Testament idea of hope is the recognition that in Christ is found the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises (Matthew 12:211 Peter 1:3). Christian hope is rooted in faith in the divine salvation in Christ (Galatians 5:5). Hope of Christians is brought into being through the presence of the promised Holy Spirit (Romans 8:24-25). It is the future hope of the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6), the promises given to Israel (Acts 26:6-7), the redemption of the body and of the whole creation (Romans 8:23-25), eternal glory (Colossians 1:27), eternal life and the inheritance of the saints (Titus 3:5-7), the return of Christ (Titus 2:11-14), transformation into the likeness of Christ (1 John 3:2-3), the salvation of God (1 Timothy 4:10) or simply Christ Himself (1 Timothy 1:1).

The certainty of this blessed future is guaranteed through the indwelling of the Spirit (Romans 8:23-25), Christ in us (Colossians 1:27), and the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:26). Hope is produced by endurance through suffering (Romans 5:2-5) and is the inspiration behind endurance (1 Thessalonians 1:3Hebrews 6:11). Those who hope in Christ will see Christ exalted in life and in death (Philippians 1:20). Trustworthy promises from God give us hope (Hebrews 6:18-19), and we may boast in this hope (Hebrews 3:6) and exhibit great boldness in our faith (2 Corinthians 3:12). By contrast, those who do not place their trust in God are said to be without hope (Ephesians 2:121 Thessalonians 4:13).

Along with faith and love, hope is an enduring virtue of the Christian life (1 Corinthians 13:13), and love springs from hope (Colossians 1:4-5). Hope produces joy and peace in believers through the power of the Spirit (Romans 12:1215:13). Paul attributes his apostolic calling to the hope of eternal glory (Titus 1:1-2). Hope in the return of Christ is the basis for believers to purify themselves in this life (Titus 2:11-141 John 3:3). (Quote source here.)

Peter, one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus, wrote the following in 1 Peter 1:3-5 (NIV):

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

All five chapters in 1 Peter are focused on “a living hope” and they provide much encouragement in hard times, and at anytime, too (1 Peter is available at this link). It’s a reminder for us to keep our eyes focused on the One our hope rests in no matter what is going on in this ever changing world of ours.

While we do not know what the future holds, we who believe know the One who holds the future. With that in mind, I’ll end this post with the words of Paul from Romans 12:12 (ESV)…

Rejoice in hope . . .

Be patient in tribulation . . .

Be constant in prayer . . . .

YouTube Video: “Hope in Front of Me,” by Danny Gokey:

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