Scripture: Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. Psalm 24:3-4 ESV
Observation: This Psalm of David follows his well-known 23rd Psalm, which extols the Lord’s provision and protection for those who sojourn the wildernesses of life. Here, Israel’s king turns his readers’ attention to those who pilgrimage to the holy hill (temple) of the Lord, where he reveals his presence and glory (verses 7-10). David begins his psalter declaring that Yahweh is the Creator and Sustainer of all the earth’s elements, inanimate and animate (verses 1-2). He then asks who among God’s created humankind can rightfully enter into his presence (verse 3 above). The answer: those who have “clean hands and a pure heart” and thus conduct themselves with integrity (verse 4).
Takeaway: The Hebrew word for “clean,” naqi, literally means “innocent.” Most often used in conjunction with the term, blood, its likely context here would refer to those whose hands are free of shedding innocent blood. So David first addresses outward behavior and actions: those who act rightly. The second half of the sentence focuses on the inner-self, implying that our external behavior must flow from a heart that genuinely loves and desires to please the Lord. In a word, all aspects of our thought life and actions must exhibit “integrity” of righteous living.
But none of us can meet this high standard; no one can justifiably “stand in his holy place” based solely on their merit. We all compromise our integrity from time to time and hence sadly stand afar beholding our Creator’s glory. But there is One who meets this high standard, who can lift the gates, the ancient doors, of the temple, “that the King of glory may come in” (verses 7 and 9). And Christ invites us to come with him into the intimate presence of the King of glory. How? By bloodying his hands in the sacrifice of his innocent blood so that we who put our faith in him might righteously “stand in his holy place.”
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, who shed his blood to wash us clean in your sight that we might draw near to you and behold your glory. Would you please help us to submit to the ongoing cleansing work of your Holy Spirit that we might more and more each day conduct our lives with integrity and bring your glory? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling