Wednesday of Advent 4 – Psalm 24

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. Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty,
    the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And lift them up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord of hosts,
    he is the King of glory! Selah

I attended a funeral today. It wasn’t for someone I knew. She was the daughter of the founding pastor of this congregation. She had gone on to live in many places around the world, but now, in her death, her family brought her back here, to lie before the pulpit where her father preached. Another pastor, one whom she had known, preached today. I ran the sound system. It is good to hear a funeral sermon preached.  

The sermon was good for it proclaimed the truth of this psalm. We are all the Lord’s. We belong to him (vs. 1). We all must face the judgment of the One who has the right to judge us. There is no escape. Death winnows us all into that great company which must stand before Him. Who among us shall ascend to God’s holy hill, to his heavenly glory? It is only the one who has clean hands and a pure heart (vs. 4) Shall we then all be condemned? Who has such clean hands and purity of heart?

The psalmist immediately directs our attention away from ourselves as we ask that question. “Lift up your heads, O gates, O ancient doors, be lifted up,” he says. The King of Glory, strong and mighty, mighty in battle comes in. But return to verse five, perhaps the most important for us. The psalmist reminds us of what this king of glory brings – the blessings and the righteousness of God.

Who will have those clean hands and pure heart? It is you, for Christ has given them to you and gives them to you for all eternity. The mighty Lord came in humility and grace long ago so that at the day of His coming in glory, you ascend that holy hill. Such the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of our God.

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