24:1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it … and all who live in it. The theological truth behind the statement “the earth is the Lord’s” is based on the Pentateuch, found especially in Exodus 9:29 and Deuteronomy 10:14, and, of course, generally attested by the creation narrative of Genesis 1–2.
Ver. 1.—The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. God’s glory was set forth in Ps. 19 from a consideration of the heavens (vers. 1–6); here it is manifested from the other half of creation—the earth. The whole earth, and all its fulness, is his. He made it, and he remains its sole Owner and Master. There is no inferior δημιουργός, as some believed, who framed it and governs it. All its marvels, all its beauty, all its richness, proceed from God alone. The world, and they that dwell therein. “The world” (תֵּבֵל) seems to be here synonymous with “the earth” (הָאָדֶץ). Not only do its material products belong to God, but its inhabitants also.
1. The earth is Jehovah’s. We will find in many other places the children of Abraham compared with all the rest of mankind, that the free goodness of God, in selecting them from all other nations, and in embracing them with his favour, may shine forth the more conspicuously. The object of the beginning of the psalm is to show that the Jews had nothing of themselves which could entitle them to approach nearer or more familiarly to God than the Gentiles. As God by his providence preserves the world, the power of his government is alike extended to all, so that he ought to be worshipped by all, even as he also shows to all men, without exception, the fatherly care he has about them. But since he preferred the Jews to all other nations, it was indispensably necessary that there should be some sacred bond of connection between him and them, which might distinguish them from the heathen nations. By this argument David invites and exhorts them to holiness. He tells them that it was reasonable that those whom God had adopted as his children, should bear certain marks peculiar to themselves, and not be altogether like strangers. Not that he incites them to endeavour to prejudice God against others, in order to gain his exclusive favour; but he teaches them, from the end or design of their election, that they shall then have secured to them the firm and peaceful possession of the honour which God had conferred upon them above other nations, when they devote themselves to an upright and holy life. In vain would they have been collected together into a distinct body, as the peculiar people of God, if they did not apply themselves to the cultivation of holiness. In short, the Psalmist pronounces God to be the King of the whole world, to let all men know that, even by the law of nature, they are bound to serve him. And by declaring that he made a covenant of salvation with a small portion of mankind, and by the erection of the tabernacle, gave the children of Abraham the symbol of his presence, thereby to assure them of his dwelling in the midst of them, he teaches them that they must endeavour to have purity of heart and of hands, if they would be accounted the members of his sacred family.
With respect to the word fulness, I admit that under it all the riches with which the earth is adorned are comprehended, as is proved by the authority of Paul; but I have no doubt that the Psalmist intends by the expression men themselves, who are the most illustrious ornament and glory of the earth. If they should fail, the earth would exhibit a scene of desolation and solitude, not less hideous than if God should despoil it of all its other riches. To what purpose are there produced so many kinds of fruit, and in so great abundance, and why are there so many pleasant and delightful countries, if it is not for the use and comfort of men? Accordingly, David explains, in the following clause, that it is principally of men that he speaks. It is his usual manner to repeat the same thing twice, and here the fulness of the earth, and the inhabitants of the world, have the same meaning. I do not, however, deny that the riches with which the earth abounds for the use of men, are comprehended under these expressions. Paul, therefore, (1 Cor. 10:26,) when discoursing concerning meats, justly quotes this passage in support of his argument, maintaining that no kind of food is unclean, because “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.”
1. How very different is this from the ignorant Jewish notion of God which prevailed in our Saviour’s day. The Jews said, “The holy land is God’s, and the seed of Abraham are his only people;” but their great Monarch had long before instructed them,—“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.” The whole round world is claimed for Jehovah, “and they that dwell therein” are declared to be his subjects. When we consider the bigotry of the Jewish people at the time of Christ, and how angry they were with our Lord for saying that many widows were in Israel, but unto none of them was the prophet sent, save only to the widow of Sarepta, and that there were many lepers in Israel, but none of them was healed except Naaman the Syrian,—when we recollect, too, how angry they were at the mention of Paul’s being sent to the Gentiles, we are amazed that they should have remained in such blindness, and yet have sung this Psalm, which shows so clearly that God is not the God of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also. What a rebuke is this to those wiseacres who speak of the negro and other despised races as though they were not cared for by the God of heaven! If a man be but a man the Lord claims him, and who dares to brand him as a mere piece of merchandise! The meanest of men is a dweller in the world, and therefore belongs to Jehovah. Jesus Christ has made an end of the exclusiveness of nationalities. There is neither barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but we all are one in Christ Jesus.
Man lives upon “the earth,” and parcels out its soil among his mimic kings and autocrats; but the earth is not man’s. He is but a tenant at will, a leaseholder upon most precarious tenure, liable to instantaneous ejectment. The great Landowner and true Proprietor holds his court above the clouds and laughs at the title-deeds of worms of the dust. The fee-simple is not with the lord of the manor nor the freeholder, but with the Creator. The “fulness” of the earth may mean its harvests, its wealth, its life, or its worship; in all these senses the Most High God is Possessor of all. The earth is full of God; he made it full and he keeps it full, notwithstanding all the demands which living creatures make upon its stores. The sea is full, despite all the clouds which rise from it; the air is full, notwithstanding all the lives which breathe it; the soil is full, though millions of plants derive their nourishment from it. Under man’s tutored hand the world is coming to a greater fulness than ever, but it is all the Lord’s; the field and the fruit, the earth and all earth’s wonders are Jehovah’s. We look also for a sublimer fulness when the true ideal of a world for God shall have been reached in millennial glories, and then most clearly the earth will be the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. These words are now upon London’s Royal Exchange, they shall one day be written in letters of light across the sky.
The term “world” indicates the habitable regions, wherein Jehovah is especially to be acknowledged as Sovereign. He who rules the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air should not be disobeyed by man, his noblest creature. Jehovah is the Universal King, all nations are beneath his sway: true Autocrat of all the nations, emperors and czars are but his slaves. Men are not their own, nor may they call their lips, their hearts, or their substance their own; they are Jehovah’s rightful servants. This claim especially applies to us who are born from heaven. We do not belong to the world or to Satan, but by creation and redemption we are the peculiar portion of the Lord.
Paul uses this verse twice, to show that no food is unclean, and that nothing is really the property of false gods. All things are God’s; no ban is on the face of nature, nothing is common or unclean. The world is all God’s world, and the food which is sold in the shambles is sanctified by being my Father’s, and I need not scruple to eat thereof.
 Bullock, C. H. (2015). Psalms 1–72. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (Vol. 1, p. 177). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Psalms (Vol. 1, p. 173). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
 Calvin, J., & Anderson, J. (2010). Commentary on the Book of Psalms (Vol. 1, pp. 401–402). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 1-26 (Vol. 1, pp. 374–375). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.