While it opens proposing a grand view of divine sovereignty, Ps. 24 sets aside the view of God as distant as it moves quickly to moral exhortation with the explanation that abiding in God is not the side effect or reward for the pursuit of a pure way of life but is the ascent to that holy dwelling of God.
God’s power in establishing the cosmos may make him seem distant, but an excellent life will enable those who desire God to experience him as nearby. By drawing near to God, those who seek him will be blessed, and that blessing will infuse community life by their participation in it.
For the distant God of creation to enter the human heart as more than the idea of majestic power, heads must lift and gates of the hearts must open to make room for God to enter one’s life. Taken together then, the questions posed in Ps. 24 can be reduced to the question of how the transcendent creator who is also the commander in chief of armed battalions finds his way into human lives to lift them to himself.
Theodoret and Augustine read the upward-turning images in this psalm in terms of the ascension and resurrection of Christ. For us, “up” is moral-spiritual improvement. The exhortation of the psalmist and later Christian interpreters adjure readers to lift their sights to morally uplifted lives. It is a poem of possibility and encouragement.
For the Christian writers, to look up is to be brought near to God by the incarnate one who leads by going on ahead, first in resurrection and then in ascent to God. Both the psalmist and his Christian readers want to expand the self upward, thus giving hope.