URC Daily Devotion 19th November

Psalm 24
 

The world and all in it are God’s,
all peoples of the earth,
For it was founded by the LORD
upon the seas beneath.

Who may ascend the hill of God,
or in his temple stand?
The one who shuns false gods and lies,
who’s pure in heart and hand.

He will find favour from the LORD,
and from his Saviour grace.
Thus are they blessed, O Jacob’s God,
who truly seek your face.

You ancient gates, lift up your heads;
you doors, be opened wide—
So may the King of glory come
for ever to abide.

But who is this exalted King?
What glorious King is he?
It is the LORD of strength and might,
the LORD of victory.

You ancient gates, lift up your heads;
you doors, be opened wide—
So may the King of glory come
for ever to abide.

But who is this exalted King?
Who can this sovereign be?
The LORD Almighty, he is King
of glory, none but he.
 

You can hear a Free Church congregation sing this to the tune Winchester (often used for While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night) here and to the rather difficult tune St George’s, Edinburgh here.

Reflection

This Psalm has always been in the Premier League for Christians. In the early days of the Church the “ancient gates” were taken figuratively to represent Death whose gates were opened by the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ. In 1598 it opened the worship at the Louvre in Paris when free worship was first permitted after the Edict of Nantes, and in much more recent times a metrical version often opened worship on Communion Sundays in Scotland.

We start with the unequivocal declaration that the Lord God founded the whole of Creation and then move on to a different theme and consider who is worthy to offer worship.

We may not find God’s Creatorship a problem in theory (though recognising that the Creator must be greater than the creation – immense though it is, beyond our comprehension). However,  the next section is far less comfortable because it becomes much more personal. Of course, we agree that we should all be pure in heart and actions, and shun the false gods of worldliness and deceit – but who among us is worthy?

The use of the word “Saviour” in the third stanza of this version is in some ways questionable as Christians are likely to read it as referring to Jesus which the original clearly does not. But using this in Christian worship reminds us that it is through Grace that we are saved, not through works however pure and worthy.

So, we can conclude with the triumphant declaration that the King of glory is the Lord of victory.

Prayer

Most gracious God,
we thank you that our worship is joined with that of your people through the ages
and that through our risen Lord and Saviour we have a place in your kingdom,
unworthy though we be.
Amen.

Today’s Writer

The Revd Julian Macro is a retired minister and member of Verwood URC.

Bible Version

 

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved

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