Psalm 24 - The King of Glory

This wonderful psalm is full of the mystery of the Triune God becoming man.
v1-2 - The very God who created the universe became a man in the next verses.
v4 - The only One who meets this qualification is the Messiah, who is God Himself become a Man. This is proved by the words "My Soul". God is talking, and saying that the Messiah's soul is God's soul.

Most Christian translations amend the text to say "his soul" instead of "My soul". The Stone Tanach, Orthodox Jewish translation, keeps "My soul", but changes the meaning of the verb, translating the phrase as: "Who has not sworn in vain by My soul."
The Hebrew verb "nasa" means to lift up, not swear. It is used 654 times and never has the meaning of swear. It is used in the command not to take the Lord's name in vain. There is no instance of taking the Lord's soul in vain, or swearing by the Lord's soul.

It is striking that this Hebrew verb "nasa", lift up, is used 6 times in this short psalm. 1st here in v4, the King of Glory did not lift up God's soul to vanity. 2nd in v5, the King of Glory shall lift up the Lord's blessing and righteousness. Then it is repeated 4 times in v7 & 9 in the command to lift up the heads of the gates and the ancient doors.
v5 - This One who will ascend to the heavens and rise up in God's holy place will uplift both the Lord's blessing (Acts 3:25; etc) and righteousness (Matt 5:20; etc). This is the only place in the Old Testament where the verb, nasa, "lift up", is used to act upon either "blessing" or "righteousness".
v6 - A generation long sought this One who will uplift the LORD's blessing and righteousness. He became a Man to seek the face of the sons of Jacob.

This is another mysterious verse.
The 1st half of the verse seems unamimously translated:
"This is the generation that seeks Him." or
"Such is the generation that seeks Him."
This translation follows the qere, which is a textual amendation suggested by the Masoretes in their margin .The kethib (pre-Masorete) reading says "sought" instead of "that seeks Him".
The difference in meaning is:
The common translation, following the Masorete suggested amendation, says that the virtues described in the previous verses characterize the generation that seeks after God.
My translation, following the pre-Masorete text, says that a generation sought after the One described in the previous verses.
The verb "sought" is plural, but "generation" is singular. Since "generation" is a collective noun it can take a plural verb (Ps 78:6)

The 2nd 1/2 of the verse says literally:
"who seek your face, Jacob."
Few (Darby, KJV) translate it this way, because it does not make sense. Why would the generation seek the face of Jacob?
Some (HCSB, NIV, NRSV) amend the text, adding "God of" before "Jacob",  following the LXX:
"who seek Your face, O God of Jacob"
Leupold says of this amendation, 'It is unthinkable that the word "God" could have been so carelessly dropped by a scribe'.
Most (Leupold, Goldingay, ASV,  JPS, Leeser, NAS, NET, Stone Tanach)  translate it as, 'They that seek Thy face are Jacob'. This translation is forced. The antecedent of "thy" in "thy face" should be the adjacent word "Jacob", as it is in verses 7 & 9, "O gates, your heads". God is never addressed in the 2nd person in this psalm.
"Jacob" refers to the untransformed Jewish race. When He lived on earth, Jesus came seeking only Jacob, not other races, but Jacob as a whole did not seek Him.
No other version translates it as I have, probably because the verb "seeks" in "Who seeks your face" is plural. Because it is the Triune God who seeks, He can take a plural verb (Gen 1:26; etc).
v7 - I believe this refers to the Messiah ascending to the heavens as a Man (v3a). The Messiah opened the way for man to come to God, and thus He Himself is the door (John 14:6; etc).
v8 - The word here for "man" is gibbor, which means mighty man, valiant man or hero. The word usually refers to a human being, but sometimes to God.  I think the places where it refers to God, it is referring to the God-Man, Christ (Isa 9:6; etc), but  Deut 10:17 (quoted in Neh 9:32 & Jer 32:18) does not seem to refer to Christ . Ps 103:20 has been translated by KJV to refer to angels, but that is not necessary, and other versions translate it as "messengers". Gibbor may not always refer to a human being, but it at least implies a heroic human.

-copyright Steve Miller 2010
written 5/27/2010