Psalm 24, Part 2/10: “A Cosmic Temple Established By God”

In Psalm 24, vv. 1-2 teach that God is the Creator.  While v. 1 asserts his ownership of all things, v. 2 makes explicit his creation of the world.

for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers” 

David, the psalm’s author, states the reason for the truth of v. 1.  God owns everything (“The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof”) because he made everything.  In David’s reasoning, God is Owner because he is Maker.

The verbs David uses are important, because he doesn’t simply say God “created.”  Instead we see the words “founded” and “established,” parallel terms which call to mind a firmly built structure–like a temple, perhaps.

In fact, several texts portray the cosmos as a temple of sorts, a building established by God.  The heavens are like a tent stretched out by God (Psalm 104:2).  Job heard God describe creation with the vocabulary of architecture and construction (Job 38:4-6).  God claimed to spread the heavens like a curtain in order to dwell there (Isa 40:22).  In a significant sense, then, the world is God’s dwelling place, his cosmic temple.

God made this world “upon the seas” and “upon the rivers,” again parallel phrases.  Now think about the nature of this underlying material: is there anything less stable than water on which to build a lasting structure?  It seems like such a building would be vulnerable to damage, if not total collapse.

In the ancient Near Eastern worldview, water was a picture of chaos where disorder reigned.  In pagan myths, the gods struggled to bring order upon the unruly depths.  Perhaps, then, David’s words are a rebuke of contemporary pagan philosophies of creation and stories of struggles between gods.

The point is this: the one true God, Yahweh, owns all things because he made all things.  He established order upon the least likely of surfaces, asserting his authority and displaying his power.

Who, then, is like the Lord?  He alone founded the world and dwells in his creation (he is, after all, omnipresent), while remaining distinct from his creation.  Heaven is his throne and earth is his footstool (Isaiah 66:1).  And although he is pleased to dwell in his cosmic temple, not even the highest heavens can contain him (2 Chronicles 6:18).


One thought on “Psalm 24, Part 2/10: “A Cosmic Temple Established By God”

  1. I really enjoyed reading this. However, I would pose a few questions…doesn’t the wording of this psalm go specifically against creation ex-nihilo? And wouldn’t that be pretty important as this specifically celebrates (and therefore teaches) creation, rather than some texts vaguely or only philosophically related to God’s creative process? In addition, why is there no temple today? This seems out of joint with biblical Christianity.

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