Psalm 24:7 (ESV) says:

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

repeated in verse 9. I'm curious regarding the reference to gates and doors. If I had to guess, I'd think that it refers to Jerusalem, but is there more to understand? Is this an allusion to a context that a Hebrew reader would have understood, and, if so, what is the context?

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    The fulfilment is the entry of Jesus, King of the Jews, into Jerusalem, which is very relevant.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 22:15

3 Answers 3


One is often tempted to think that Psalm 24 was composed as a kind of prophecy about Jesus' triumphal entry to Jerusalem near the beginning of passion week. If it was thus intended, then it was a poor prophecy because very little was fulfilled. Specifically,

  1. The Psalm is addressed to the King of Glory, YHWH/ the LORD Almighty. While it is true that such epithets were (and still are) valid for Jesus, at the triumphal entrance Jesus was merely hailed as king of the Jews, not King of Glory and definitely not Jehovah Almighty.
  2. Psalm 24 is an antiphonal psalm requiring two choirs which were conspicuously absent at Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem.
  3. The actual fulfilment of the Ps 24 prophecy is possibly found in places like Rev 11:15-18, 19:16 where Jesus is given the title King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Lord of hosts, etc, and the kingdoms of this world are formally handed over the Jesus.

This is the main difference between Jesus’ first and second advents: the first coming was as a meek lamb; the second coming will be as a triumphal conquering king of the universe. The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was only a foretaste of these later events.

The "gates" and "doors" must be understood figuratively. In its original setting, the Psalm was possibly intended by David as a celebration of the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant into the tabernacle at Jerusalem. This prefigured and symbolised the triumphal arrival of Jesus to the heavenly sanctuary.

Note the comments of MacLaren:

This whole psalm was probably composed at the time of the bringing of the ark into the city of Zion. The former half was chanted as the procession wound its way up the hillside. It mainly consists of the answer to the question ‘Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?’ and describes the kind of men that dwell with God, and the way by which they obtain their purity.

This second half of our psalm is probably to be thought of as being chanted when the procession had reached the summit of the hill and stood before the barred gates of the ancient Jebusite city. …

We are to conceive of a couple of half choirs, the one within, the other without the mountain hold. The advancing choir summons the gates to open in the grand words: ‘Lift up your heads, O ye gates! even lift them up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in.’ …

The answer to the summons comes from the choir within. ‘Who is this King of Glory?’ the question represents ignorance and possible hesitation, as if the pagan inhabitants of the recently conquered city knew nothing of the God of Israel, and recognised no authority in His name.

  • Thanks for this answer. Do you have any idea what the "heads" represent? biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Tobit%2013&version=NRSV
    – Ruminator
    Commented Dec 2, 2020 at 16:45
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    @Ruminator - the "heads" is a personification of the gates as cambridge notes: "7. Lift up your heads] As though they were too low and mean for the entrance of “the high and lofty one” who comes, and in token that all resistance is at an end."
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 2, 2020 at 20:07
  • @Musefortune - Many thanks for these helpful corrections to my sloppy typing.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 20:21

What are the “gates” and “doors” in Psalm 24:7?

It is the year 1070 B.C.E. and King David is having the ark of the covenant carried by the Levite priests towards the city gates of Jerusalem. Those watching from the city walls heard the joyful call out:

Psalm 24:7-9 (ASV)

7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; And be ye lifted up, ye [a]everlasting doors: And the King of glory will come in.

The sentries of the gates respond.

8 Who is the King of glory?

The Priest carrying the Ark respond.

8 Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; Yea, lift them up, ye [b]everlasting doors: And the King of glory will come in.

The ancestors of King David that ruled in Jerusalem, are said to have sat on the throne of Jehovah.

1 Chronicles 29:23 (ASV)

23 Then Solomon sat on the throne of Jehovah as king instead of David his father, and prospered, and all Israel obeyed him.

  • Thank you for this answer, Ozzie. Do you have any idea what the "heads" represent? biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Tobit%2013&version=NRSV
    – Ruminator
    Commented Dec 2, 2020 at 16:48
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    Footnotes: NET Bible. Psalm 24:7 tn Heb “lift up your heads.” The gates of the Lord’s dwelling place are here personified. The idiom “lift up the head” often means “be confident, bold” (see Judg 8:28; Job 10:15; Ps 83:2; Zech 1:21). Also, Luke 21:28 has the expression "lift your heads" God's servants watching that the nations of the world will be in distress, rather than being morbidly afraid should lift their heads in confidence to God's promised deliverance. Commented Dec 2, 2020 at 21:09

Re: Ps 24:7 ('Lift up your heads...') John Wesley's commentary says 'heads' refers to the 'tops' of a portcullis-type gate, which need lifting to allow entry.

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