The psalmist looks at the temple and sees it as a symbol of the world with all its people in all its beauty, floating on the seas and rivers.
Who is allowed to enter this holy place? Only those who are faithful worshipers of the Lord, who seek the face of God, and refuse to worship idols. To “seek the face of God” reminds us that God wants us to have a personal relationship with him. To “refuse to worship idols” is a warning not to put our hopes in anything outside of God.
Next we see a procession with the ark of the covenant, the place of God’s special presence. It is about to enter the temple. Presumably it is those accompanying the ark who call for the gates of the temple to lift up their heads. The “gates” may stand for a group of people who bow down before the temple waiting for the Lord to return from some great victory. They are to raise their heads and joyfully welcome their divine king as the ark enters.
The liturgy sometimes uses this psalm to begin the daily prayer of the Church. It reminds those who pray the Divine Office to be pure in mind and heart as they enter into prayer. The psalm is also used at Christmas to welcome the Son of God into the world. It is also used at Easter and Ascension to express the Church’s joy at the victory of Jesus and his entrance into the temple of heaven.
Featured image: Photoxpress/Mele Avery