Heavens Gates



4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the LORD
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
7 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle!
9 Lift up your heads, you gates.
Be lifted up, you everlasting doors,
so that the King of Glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of Glory?
The LORD Almighty,
he is the King of Glory.

David yearned with his whole soul to be permitted to build a temple for the ark of the Lord. But coming to him, the prophet said: “That is not what Jehovah wants. He wants Solomon your son to be the one who builds the temple, not you.” And when David was sure about this, he didn’t grumble or force the issue. He put the matter behind him, and from that point on he was thoroughly excited that Solomon and not he would accomplish this.

What a glorious day that would be when God’s ark would finally be carried into the completed temple! It was as if that day had already dawned for him. He envisioned it all, as though it had already happened right before his eyes. The beautiful metals! The high, stately walls! The procession bearing the ark of God, the seat of his majestic presence! It was as though David, looking down on the ark and the temple, saw much farther. It was as though he were looking into the heart of that other David, the one for whom the fathers of Israel were praying and of whom both the ark and the temple were no more than shadows and symbols.

Next he sees that ark of God processing up the holy mountain in all its glory until the procession stops before the wall of fortified Zion. In the wall are gateways, and in the gates there are doors. And it’s possible for the ark to pass through them, to be sure, but they are too low and unimpressive. They are too restrictive for him whose glorious entrance was only being symbolized by the ark’s procession. So, filled with the Spirit, David sings a psalm. Listen to what he cries out: “Be raised higher, O you gates. Be bigger, wider, broader, and higher, you entrances. Expand, you everlasting doors. Get regal! Don’t hold back! For behold, he is coming to you. The King of Glory, the Prince of the heavenly hosts, my heart’s inspiration and my soul’s desire, is entering!”

This psalm is referring directly to the narrow gate in the wall of Zion’s mountain fortress. Here is Jerusalem. Above her rises the temple. And there are the solid walls with their formidable gates and everlasting doors. This is why David sings his psalm of holy exaltation. The ark of the Lord bearing God’s majesty is arriving.

Lift up your heads, O you gates,
Be lifted up, you everlasting doors,
So that the King of Glory may come in.

Who is the King of Glory?
The Lord strong and mighty!
The Lord mighty in battle.

Then once again:

Lift up your heads, O you gates,
Yes, be lifted up, you everlasting doors,
So that the King of Glory may come in.

Who is the King of Glory?
The Lord of Hosts,
He is the King of Glory!

But all of this wasn’t real because Zion itself wasn’t the reality.

Jerusalem was only a shadow. The temple was a shadow. The ark standing in it was a shadow. Even the walls of Zion separating the temple and the city of Jerusalem were shadows. All of it was a display for instructional purposes. It was a representation of reality and an image of what is true. It all pointed to what is enduring and deals with what is real and eternal.

The wise according to the world don’t get this. God’s church does. And within that church, all God’s dearly loved elect people do. That’s exactly the reason that the church of all ages didn’t engage in guesswork. It knew certainly, definitely, and solidly what it was singing in this song of David: the ark was a symbol of the actual ascension of Jesus into heaven!

In Jerusalem people were thirsting for the living God. But the Lord was living on Mount Zion, and those walls and everlasting doors couldn’t be budged. They were causing a continuing separation. The people saw the temple there and knew that the ark was inside it. They realized that that’s precisely where the presence of the Lord was dwelling. But then there were those massive walls, and those narrow gates, and those everlasting doors!

But be lifted up, my soul, and be exalted Jerusalem that languishes. A new day is dawning. Salvation is flowing. The King of Glory is coming. The walls are giving way. The massive gates are being lifted high. The everlasting doors are being raised because the Prince of heaven’s powerful army is marching in. And you who have been longing for God’s coming are singing and celebrating in victory!

What could those everlasting doors really be?

Everything that shuts Jerusalem off from the ark! Therefore everything that acts as a barrier between languishing hearts of unhappy people and the sacred glory of their God.

A door is anything that prevents you from entering. Because it’s bolted and barred, it keeps you out. An everlasting door defies your entrance however much you knock and bang on it. It stays shut, as shut as a wall. It remains so tightly shut that it suggests to you that it will never be opened. It is an everlasting door. It will keep you out eternally.

But now the Messiah arrives.

God has mercy on those who are miserable and sends them a Savior. How, then, could those everlasting doors possibly keep him out?

In answering that question, the Spirit prophesies through David: “No, and once again no. The bolts and bars will fall off those everlasting doors!” The doors will be flung open for him. The openings will even be widened and broadened for him. The doors will be lifted up so that the King of Glory may enter in all his glory.

But pay attention! The door is still there! It’s the everlasting door of the flesh. You’re stuck behind it. It won’t admit you. The flesh is oppressive. But Christ breaks through it by coming in the flesh. He comes to you through that everlasting door of the flesh. This brings him close to you. He is one with you. He has become like a brother to you.

But you’re still not quite there yet. The Word made flesh is definitely your Messiah. But he is so in a way that, while you are with him and he is with you, you are still languishing and shut out of Zion. You are still barred from glory. The wall and the everlasting door are still obstructions for you.

This is why in the flesh you still have to keep working at making progress in the flesh. You have to climb the mountain. You have to climb from the flatness of this world to the heights of heaven. The glory isn’t here, but it’s up there. While weak here, the Messiah is mighty there and great in his majesty. That’s where he is capable of saving you and blessing you.

This required his ascension! To heaven! To the place where weakness is glorified! Where all the power is! Where power and strength can go to work! So that’s where your flesh goes, your Messiah in your flesh, in exactly the same flesh and blood that hung on the shameful wood of Golgotha.

Now, finally, those everlasting doors are completely raised and lifted up.

Here, finally, the King of Glory enters in. This is your King, church of God. He possesses all the wealth needed to exalt you, justify you, sanctify you, and redeem you completely.

He enters through the everlasting doors into that expanded tabernacle that is not made with human hands. From there your King causes salvation and blessing to flow freely. From there his strength is expressed, and Satan slinks away because those who were ungodly have now been made righteous.

But this is still not the end of the matter.

One everlasting door still remains. It is the door of your own heart that Satan has bolted shut. It is the door of your own soul that he has slammed closed.

How many thousands of times haven’t you banged your head against that everlasting door?

This became so oppressive that your fearful heart could hardly stand it any longer. You wanted to escape and you pounded on that door, crying: “Open, open up! Show some mercy! Don’t let me choke in desperation!”

But it didn’t help. You got no response. The door of your sinful heart seemed like an everlasting door.

That is … until he came! Right? Until the King of Glory came!

That’s when from his throne of glory he sent his messengers. They came with the sledgehammer of his Word and beat on that door. Then you realized that where the Word of the King comes, it comes with power. For then the locks are broken. The bolts are shattered. The doors are lifted, and he enters. The King of Glory comes in. The Lord strong and mighty!

Abraham Kuyper, Ever in Thy Sight: 31 Devotions on the Psalms, (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020), 57–64.

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