The Psalms of Advent: Lift Up Your Heads

4th Sunday in Advent

Psalm 24

It’s the 4th Sunday in Advent.  At this point there’s nothing to do except let Christmas come rolling in with all the joy it can muster!  And as if to remind us that there is nothing to do…the Almighty has dumped a truckload of winter upon us making it impossible for us to do anything today!  A not so subtle reminder to pay attention!

“Lift up your heads, O ye gates!  And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in!”  With a snowstorm fanfare our God announces that the time has come.  The King of glory is at hand!

This Psalm has echoes of the newly anointed King David, conquering unconquerable Jerusalem.  Then David crowns his triumph by bringing the ark of God into his new capitol city.  All the people make merry with lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals.  The King of glory, strong and mighty in battle!

Oh…makes you think of Shakespeare’s Henry V speaking a good dose of backbone into his troops on the eve of Agincourt.  “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers….  And gentlemen in England now-a-bed Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”  Lift up your heads!

Passionate loyalty, adoration, terror, awe—no words are too strong to describe the feelings evoked in the king’s subjects by the mere sight of him.  He held the power of life and death over them. Their destiny was in his keeping.  He defended the kingdom against all enemies within and from without.  He was the kingdom.  If he rejoiced, the kingdom rejoiced with him.  If he was angry, the earth itself trembled.

“Who is this King of glory?  The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle!  The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory!” proclaims the Psalmist.  And today’s snowstorm is the powerful refrain to that song!

And yet, for all the power displayed in word and nature this morning, this final Sunday in Advent morning…come Tuesday night and Christmas Eve, the King mighty in battle, will be a Baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger, because there was no room for Him in the inn.

Ah, but, then, His is a very different battle…a very different strength, a very different might.  And when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, as King and Son of David, to the shouts of Hosanna… His admirers were of course bitterly disappointed.

But the God who has blitzed our world with snow this morning, will blitz that Friday with darkness, once again to get our attention!  “Lift up your heads!  He is the King of glory.”  Now it is the manger.  Then it will be the cross.  Strength revealed in weakness.  Might made known in humility.  And for us, His subjects, a glorious kingdom and great, great joy!

“Now He who bore for mortals’ sake The cross and all its pains And chose a servant’s form to take, The King of glory reigns.  Hosanna to the Savior’s name Till heaven’s rafters ring, And all the ransomed host proclaim, ‘Behold, behold your King!’”

He has done it, and it is marvelous in our eyes.  Lift up your heads!  And on this 4th Sunday in Advent…because He has done it, there is nothing for us to do but sing!