The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
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.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Psalm 24:1-6 ESV
“Listen to me, you stubborn of heart,
you who are far from righteousness:
I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off,
and my salvation will not delay;
I will put salvation in Zion,
for Israel my glory.” Isaiah 46:12-13 ESV
It was a hot summer, and every day Alex and Ellie wished they could go swimming in the beautiful country club pool near their home. Sometimes they even rode their bikes there and looked through the fence at the pool. But they weren’t allowed to swim there, because you had to be a member of the country club to swim in their pool. Alex and Ellie weren’t members, because kids couldn’t be members, and anyway, they didn’t have enough money. Then one day their neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Lakes, took them swimming at the country club. They were members there, and members were allowed to bring guests. That’s how Alex and Ellie finally got to swim in the country club pool.
Psalm 24 talks about the whole world and all its people and other creatures belonging to God, because he made everything. But there was a special place where God could be found, the hill of the Lord. The city of Jerusalem was built on a high hill, and to get there people had to go up the hill. David’s city was where the ark of God was kept. This was where people would go when it was time to celebrate a festival or to come close to God in a special way. But sinfulness keeps people from coming close to God. This psalm says that only people who have clean hands that haven’t done wrong things and also who are pure in their hearts can go up the holy hill to be with God.
Nobody could go up to be with God on those terms! Just like Alex and Ellie, who couldn’t be members of the country club, we are all sinners who can’t come into God’s presence. So the psalm goes on to say that God gives his blessing and his righteousness to his people, who can’t earn it for themselves. God’s salvation came to us in Jesus, who gave his life on the cross on a hill outside Jerusalem. Because of Jesus, we have God’s forgiveness and the righteousness we could never have on our own. We come into God’s presence as his guests, people he has invited to come and be with him through Jesus.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing us close to you and giving us your righteousness through Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.