By Henry Mahan
The Psalm is more appreciated and best understood if it is divided into three sections:
1. The true God. (vv. 1-2) 2. The true Israel. (vv. 3-6) 3. The true redeemer. (vv. 7-10)
1. The true God (vv. 1-2).
v. 1. 'The earth is the Lord's.' The earth is not man's; it is the Lord's! Men may live on earth and boast of their possessions and power. They may divide the earth into countries, fly their flags, and elect their kings and rulers. They may divide these countries into states and territories and give them names. They may divide these territories into farms, ranches, and lots and issue title-deeds of ownership. But the earth is not man's; the earth is the Lord's (Job 41:11). 'Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.' We are but tenants, subject to eviction at any moment. The great land-owner sits in the heavens and laughs at the title-deeds of worms in the dust.
'The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.' The 'fullness' of the earth may mean its entirety--its wealth, its life, its past, present, and future. The Lord has made the earth to be full, and he keeps it full. The air is full, notwithstanding all who breathe it. The soil is full, though billions of plants, trees, and flowers derive their nourishment from it. The rivers, forests, and fields remain full to feed, clothe, and house generations of people. They are all full and held together by his sovereign hand (Col. 1:16-17).
'The world and they that dwell therein.' All that dwell upon the earth and live in his world belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.
They are his by creation (John 1:1-3; Rev. 4:11).
They are his by decree; the Father hath given him all things (John 17:2; John 3:35; Heb. 1:2).
They are his by purchase (Rom. 14:9).
They are his, by administration; he reigns (Matt. 28:18: Isa. 9:6).
All creatures are his--either his sons or his servants, his sheep or his goats, his vessels of mercy or his vessels of wrath; but they are his!
v. 2. 'He hath founded it upon the seas.' Here is the chief reason all this is his--he created it all (Gen. 1:1-11). It was God who said, 'Let the dry land appear.' 'Let us make man.'
'He established it upon the floods'--the waters above and beneath the earth. What an insecure foundation! Surely God is saying that the earth shall not remain. We look forward to a new heaven and a new earth founded on the 'Rock of Ages,' where there will be 'no more sea' (Rev. 21:1) Oh, the power, glory, majesty, and greatness of our God! (Psalm 50:10-12.)
2. The true Israel (vv. 3-6).
'Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?' O how high above us is our God! He dwelleth in the heavens (Eccles. 5:1-2; Job 11:7-8). God dwells in the light which no man can approach (1 Tim. 6:16).
'Who shall stand in his holy place?' If one could ascend to where God dwells, who could stand or abide in his presence?
The answer is four-fold:
'He that hath clean hands'--one who has never sinned.
'And a pure heart'--one who has not even imagined or thought any evil thought.
'Who has not lifted up his soul to vanity''--one who Has loved God perfectly and done nothing contrary to God.
'Nor sworn deceitfully'--one who is and has spoken perfect truth.
These conditions suit none but Jesus Christ! Therefore, no man hath ascended to heaven nor will ascend to heaven nor stand in his holy place except he that came down from heaven-- -the son of man which is in heaven (John 3:13). Christ, the Godman, met every condition as our representative; and we shall ascend, and we shall stand, and we shall dwell in the presence of the Lord, accepted in the beloved (Eph. 1:6; Col. 1:21-22; Jude 24-25). As Christ has been raised from the dead and blessed, so in him we shall 'receive the blessing of the presence of the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation' (v. 5).
'This is the generation of them that seek him (Christ), that seek thy face, O God of Jacob' (v. 6). Heaven is populated by 'seekers and finders.' By his grace they seek the Lord, his presence, his mercy, his righteousness in Christ; and they find in him all they need. This is the true Israel (Phil. 3:3) from every nation.
3. The true redeemer (vv. 7-10).
Jesus Christ, our Lord, answered to the full character laid down for those who would ascend to the hill of the Lord and stand in his presence! By his own right and righteousness, he has entered in and sat down at the Father's right hand (Heb. 1:3).
His hands are clean, his heart is pure, his soul loves God perfectly, and he is the truth! Therefore, 'lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors.' The gates and doors of eternal glory have always been closed to men; too many things prevent men from entering. But the Son of man has come to earth; his perfect work of redemption is done. 'It is finished,' he cried. Now open ye gates and doors to the King of glory and his church.
Who is this King of glory?' 'He is the Lord strong and mighty,' able to do all that he undertakes (Heb. 7:25). He is 'the Lord mighty in battle,' for he alone conquered every enemy. He is 'the Lord of hosts,' he came alone to redeem, but he is not alone when he ascends; he has with him a number which no man can number. He is 'the King of glory.' All glory is his, in him, and of him.