|"The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof"|
Psalm 24 in a King James Bible
Psalm 24 is the 24th psalm of the Book of Psalms, generally known in English by its first verse, in the King James Version, "The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof". In the Greek Septuagint version of the Bible and the Latin Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 23 in a slightly different numbering system. In Latin, it is known as "Domini est terra et plenitudo eius orbis terrarum". The psalm is marked as a Psalm of David.
The psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant liturgies. It has been set to music often, notably by Heinrich Schütz and Lili Boulanger. The section "Lift up your heads, O ye gates" has been associated with Advent, and paraphrased in hymns. George Frideric Handel set it in Part II of his Messiah, in a scene called "Ascension".
David may have composed this psalm after buying the Temple Mount, intending for it to be sung at the dedication of the Temple by his son, Solomon. In verses 7 and 9, he instructs the gates of the Temple to open to receive God's glory at that time. The Talmud notes that when Solomon came to dedicate the Temple and bring in the Ark of the Covenant, the gates refused to open. They acceded only after Solomon prayed for them to open in the merit of his father, David. Another possible Sitz im Leben of Psalm 24 is the situation described in 1 Chronicles 15 and 2 Samuel 6 where David brings the Ark of the Covenant from Obed-Edom's house up to the Tabernacle in Jerusalem.
In the Temple service, Psalm 24 was designated as the Psalm of the Day for the first day of the week (Sunday), and was sung by the Levites after the offering of the regular daily sacrifice (tamid). This tradition continued into the diaspora, as the psalm is sung on Sundays in synagogues around the world.
In Christian thought, this psalm refers to the kingdom of Christ, and verses 7-10 depict the ascension to heaven. Spurgeon writes, "He who, fresh from the cross and the tomb, now rides through the gates of the New Jerusalem is higher than the heavens; great and everlasting as they are, those gates of pearl are all unworthy of him before whom the heavens are not pure, and who chargeth his angels with folly. Lift up your heads, O ye gates".Henry concurs, adding that the Ark being brought up to Jerusalem symbolizes Christ entering into heaven, "and the welcome given to him there".
The Midrash Tehillim notes the inversion of the first two words of this psalm compared to the preceding one, Psalm 23. Psalm 23 begins, "Mizmor LeDavid, a song of David", while this psalm begins, "LeDavid Mizmor, of David, a song". The Midrash explains that Mizmor LeDavid indicates that first David played on his harp, and then God's spirit rested upon him. LeDavid Mizmor indicates that first he was imbued with the holy spirit, and then he played.
The Talmud in Berakhot 35 a-b remarks on the discrepancy between verse 1, "The world and its contents belong to God", and Psalm 115:16, "The heavens are God's, but the earth He has given to humans". It concludes that these verses express the importance of saying a blessing over food. Before one says a blessing, the food belongs to God and to consume it would be akin to stealing, but after saying the blessing, one has permission to eat it.
Following is the Hebrew text of Psalm 24:
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Psalm 24 is designated as the Psalm of the Day for the first day of the week (Sunday) in both the Ashkenazi and Sephardi liturgies. Ashkenazi Jews also recite the psalm while the Torah scroll is carried back to the ark on weekdays, Rosh Chodesh, festivals, and during the Shabbat afternoon prayer. Both Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews recite it on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur after the evening prayer. In the Siddur Avodas Yisroel, the psalm is also said after Aleinu during the evening prayer on weeknights. Some congregations recite this psalm during the hakafot on Simchat Torah.
Psalm 24 is also recited as a prayer for financial success and to protect from a flood.
The Protestant minister Georg Weissel paraphrased the last section of Psalm 24 as an Advent hymn, "Macht hoch die Tür" (Make the door high) in 1623. It became Number 1 in the current Protestant hymnal Evangelisches Gesangbuch (EG), and appears in most German hymnals including the Catholic Gotteslob (GL 218). Catherine Winkworth translated it as "Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates" in 1853.
In the Free Church of Scotland's 2003 Psalter, Sing Psalms, the metrical version of Psalm 24 commences "The world and all in it are God's, all peoples of the earth" and is set in the common metre. The recommended tunes are Nativity, Praetorius, Winchester and St. George's, Edinburgh.
Heinrich Schütz set the psalm in German for choir as part of his setting of the Becker Psalter as SWV 121, "Die Erd und was sich auf ihr regt" (The Earth and what moves on it). Andreas Hammerschmidt composed a six-part motet, "Machet die Tore weit" (Make the gates wide), setting verses 7-9. Verses 7-10 are set in Handel's Messiah Part II (Chorus Lift up your heads) in 1742, in a scene called "Ascension".