“Who is this King of Glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory.” Psalm 24:10
Glory is a word often heard in Christian circles. It’s everywhere in Scripture. Every time we hear the Christmas account, we hear about the message to the shepherds, “And behold, an angel of the LORD stood before them, and the glory of the LORD shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.” Luke 2: 9 and soon after the heavenly host were praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14 We even hear the word in catechisms, which are a question and answer form in which to learn doctrine. “What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
We think we understand it based on its context, but most of us would be hard put to give it a dictionary definition. Marino Vereecke says of it, “Glory is one of those things better illustrated than defined; better experienced than explained.”
That’s because, like other theological words such as justification and sanctification, they carry a different sense or meaning depending on the context.
There are two senses of the word glory—radiance and honour.
We see the idea of radiance in the verse about the glory of God shining on the shepherds. This blinding light is seen in the effect on Moses’ face when he descends from the mountain after having seen God (Ex. 34:29), and in the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain (Matt. 17:2), to the bright light that blinded Paul for three days on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3, 9) to the description of Jesus in Rev.1:16 “His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.” Also, heaven has no created light. Rev. 21:23 says,“The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.”
Glory also carries the idea of honour, weightiness or significance. We see this in the command to the shepherds to give, “Glory to God in the highest.” Here we see it could not mean we are to give radiance to God, but that we should hold Him in the highest esteem because of Who He is and what He has done.
There is an incidence in both the Old and New Testaments which show us both aspects of the word, glory in a narrative.
In the New Testament account of the transfiguration, these two ideas are linked. The disciples see His glory, as the veil of His flesh is pulled back to reveal Who He really is. This follows with a command to, “Hear Him,” because He is the Beloved Son with Whom the Father is well pleased. To hear also gives the idea of hearing and obeying. We are to obey the words of Jesus over all others by nature of Who He is. This was to correct Peter’s mistaken notion that demoted Jesus to the same level as Moses and Elijah. See Matt. 17, and Luke 9 to read about the transfiguration.
John recalls this event as he is writing his gospel. Not only is he an eye-witness of Jesus’ ministry, he says, in John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
In the Old Testament, in Exodus 33:12 to 34:8, we have another event recorded which also carries both senses of the word, glory. Thus far in the Exodus from Egypt, God revealed His glory through miracles. Now Moses makes a bold request; he wants to see God’s glory. But God tells him he cannot see His face and live. Our mortal bodies were not meant for that. He provides a way to give Moses a glimpse, as He passes by, while Moses is in a safe place, provided by God Himself, and sheltered by God Himself. The interesting thing is that not only does Moses see the radiance of God’s glory, but He is shown the glory of the LORD, in His character. He reveals His name:
“And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and fourth generation.’” Ex. 34:6, 7
So we see in both the transfiguration account and this account of the glory of God revealed to Moses that the word can relate to either radiance, honour, or both.
There are instances in Scripture where glory does not relate to God, but to lesser things, such as the creation itself, (Psalm 19:1), a woman’s hair (1 Cor. 11: 15) or even our spiritual children, who have believed because of our teaching. “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His Coming? For you are our glory and joy.” 1 Thess. 2:19, 20 But we are here referring to the instances that refer to the glory of God.
Read Psalm 24
This Psalm begins with the assertion that everything on earth, including its inhabitants, belong to the LORD by reason of His creation of it. He reminds us of the creation account by saying it was founded on the seas and established on the waters.
God created the world and sustains it. (Col. 1:17) Likewise, whatever I make is mine. If I write something, and then decide it’s not worthwhile, I can delete the whole document, or, in the old days, crumple it up and throw it in the garbage. From the lesser example to the greater, God can do what He wills with His own. We see this in the account in Exodus, where He says, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” He doesn’t owe us mercy. If He did, it would no longer be mercy.
Further, in the parable of the workers in the vineyard, he says with regard to rewards, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?” Matt. 20:15
To return to our text in Psalm 24:10 about the identity of the King of Glory, one could argue that Jesus, as the Son of God, is this King of Glory. The verse says this King of Glory is the LORD of hosts. The Hebrew name is Jehovah Sabaoth. The hosts refer to multitudes in the service of God, usually in reference to the angels. They are arranged in a hierarchy, with Michael as the Archangel, and Gabriel a notable named Messenger. As a warrior, the LORD leads his angels out to battle. He is their Captain and they are the foot soldiers.
In this Psalm, someone asks, “Who is this King of Glory?” The angels could well have asked the question, or the prophets and believers in the old covenant, or even those in the time leading up to Christ. Until He appeared they didn’t know what He would be like.
The angels must have been amazed, first when the Son was given and sent to earth as a baby, then again when He was crucified by His own creatures. Even the prophets of old grappled with this concept. 1 Peter 1:10-12 talks about this and ends with the phrase, “…things which angels desire to look into.”
We also see a beautiful image of this in the Old Testament. The Ark of the Covenant has a mercy seat, or covering of gold, with two cherubim on its cover. The wings of the angels are outstretched, covering the ark, and they are looking down on it in wonder and awe. For it is on the mercy seat that the blood of the unblemished sacrifice is poured. “…above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat…” Heb. 9:5 “And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat.” Ex. 25:20
We believe, based on many other texts, that Jesus is Himself the Creator, and therefore is the LORD of hosts. (Gen. 1:1-2, John 1: 1-3, Col. 1:16, 17, Heb. 1: 1-3, 10, and Rev. 4: 11)
The Psalmist then asks who may ascend into God’s presence? The answer is, “one who has clean hands and a pure heart.” This refers to righteous actions and motives. If we know ourselves at all, we know that we are not worthy, in and of ourselves. Any goodness we have is imputed to us by our Saviour. The Psalmist says “He shall receive blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” Psalm 24:5
How does God provide righteousness and salvation?
He accomplished this on the cross, when He died as a substitute for His people.
The image in this Psalm is one of a mighty conqueror returning from battle. The city itself is personified, and the gates are told to lift up their heads, and the doors are to be lifted up to welcome their conquering King. Christ has gone out to battle, He has conquered death, hell and the grave, and has entered the heavenly Jerusalem as Victor. After His ascension to Heaven, He gave gifts to men, the idea here being a distribution of the spoils.
“When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”Eph. 4:8
Another example is that of the temple of Solomon. 1 Kings 8:6, 10 When the ark is brought in, the glory of the LORD descends on the place in the form of a cloud, which is one of the Old Testament images of God. He led His people by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Also, as we learned in the sacrifice of David after his unlawful census, the LORD answered by fire. This was the future site of the temple that Solomon his son would build. 1 Chron. 21:26, 2 Chron. 3:1
Again, the heavenly city has no temple. “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” Rev. 21:22 The temples of earth are copies and shadows of the heavenly things, as Heb. 4:5 tells us. Jesus entered with His own blood.
“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Heb. 9:11, 12
Not only does Christ enter Heaven on our behalf, but He also enters the souls of men, in order for us to be His temple. 1 Cor. 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”
Rev. 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and dine with him, and he with Me.” We are told to be like faithful servants awaiting their Master’s return, “…and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.” Luke 12:36 Matthew Henry says, “The gates and doors of our hearts are to be opened to Him, as possession is delivered to the rightful owner.”
Further, we long for the day when we see our Saviour in Glory, a word also synonymous with Heaven itself. As believers we long to see the wrongs made right, Satan finally cast into Hell, and the first seconds of Eternity begin to tick. (That’s just an image, since Heaven is outside of time). We want to see the King of Glory come in. Imagine the cheering! Imagine the joy!
Jesus desires this as well. “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:24 Isn’t that beautiful? That should have the word Selah after it, to remind you to just stop reading and think about it.
So, “Who is this King of Glory?”
Jesus existed before He was born. He is the second Person of the Trinity. He often talked of His pre-existence and the glory that was due to Him as God.
“And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” John 17:5
We see in Hebrews 1:3 that Jesus is “…the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person,” meaning He is a perfect representation of the Father.
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Heb. 1:1-4
He even asked his disciple, Phillip, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” John 14:9
“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor. 4:6
We see the glory of God now when we know Jesus personally. The glory of God is found in the face of Jesus Christ.
Who is this King of Glory? Jesus Christ is the King of Glory!