Summary: In every person’s makeup there are certain ideas about God which we hold as truth unchallengeable; our beliefs, which are not up for discussion. Psalm 24 ought to be that.
December 29, 2002
In every person’s makeup there are certain ideas about God which we hold as truth unchallengeable; our beliefs, which are not up for discussion. Psalm 24 ought to be that. It was written to be sung antiphonally in worship. The soloist states the first phrase, the congregation answers back. Each thought builds upon the previous.
10For precept must be upon precept…Isaiah 28:10 (KJV)
As we “sing” this Psalm in worship to the Lord, let this rich truth about who you are, and, that for which you have been created, wander through your imagination: we are not our own;
we must live in a way that pleases God and not ourselves.
This is a reality Christian people must face every day – Our salvation purchased on the cross demands we give our attention to living with clean hands. One reason Jesus gave us this table is so we will remember that.
Psalm 24:1 - 10 (NASB)
LEADER: The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.
CONGREGATION: For He has founded it upon the seas And established it upon the rivers.
LEADER: Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully.
LEADER: He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
CONGREGATION: This is the generation of those who seek Him,
LEADER: Who seek Your face—even Jacob.
LEADER: Lift up your heads, O gates, And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
CONGREGATION: That the King of glory may come in!
LEADER: Who is the King of glory?
CONGREGATION: The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle.
LEADER: Lift up your heads, O gates,
CONGREGATION: And lift them up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in!
LEADER: Who is this King of glory?
CONGREGATION: The LORD of hosts,
ALL: He is the King of glory. Selah
What does it mean to have “clean hands and a pure heart”? When my Grandchildren come to our house there is a rule – after eating, and before putting hands, face or anything else on the walls, furniture, etc, you WASH! What’s more, you will probably always have Grandma or Grandpa standing nearby. We supervise! We supervise because little hands are not yet adept at getting all the sticky stuff off a little round face and chubby hands.
If coming to the Lord with our prayers were about freshly washed hands, scrubbed with Dial or Lysol, it would be a simple thing. But, like my Grandkids, we need some help. Clean hands and a pure heart have to do with confessing the mud with which we live.
In 1969 I completed my tour of duty with Uncle Sam. Elizabeth and I packed up the car and left Fort Knox in the distance. When we got back home we rented our first apartment…3 whole rooms; very clean rooms!
My cousin Rick was still unmarried. He was like my brother and me, no sisters…the boys outnumbered the girls in his home. We invited Rick to our apartment one evening for supper. He showed up wearing his old Army combat boots. Sixteen layers of mud covered those boots from top to bottom. When Elizabeth answered his knock all she could see were those muddy combat boots. “Take ‘em off,” was all she said. “You’re kidding,” he replied. The look in her eye convinced Rick – the shoes stayed out in the hall. I took a picture for posterity.
In some ways we have that same problem – we come to the Lord with all this mud called sin, and we aren’t even aware. He says, “Take it off”. And we say, “Huh?” And the Lord says, “I don’t want anything coming into my presence with all that sin covering it!” At that moment in worship our hearts are broken, and we are undone.
It is necessary, this table; it helps us keep our mud in perspective. The cross is lifted high above the muddy ground. When we kneel there, he lifts us up.
There are those today who look down on the idea of Jesus being necessary. We are educated enough, sophisticated enough. We have medicine, science, philosophy and government programs. We can solve anything.
The problem with that is we don’t really know anything. The earth and its fullness – meaning the entire universe – is the Lord’s. It includes all who dwell on the earth too. That means HE decides how things work; your life and mine! So often we begin to decide things for our own lives, leaving the Lord out of our plans. A man came to the church for help on Christmas Eve. After giving him some of the food you donated to help folks in need, I asked him where he goes to church. He never goes. I told him he was welcome here. He said, “I know I need God; He’s the only one who will never turn His back on you.” The man was right, God never turns HIS back; but the man just didn’t acknowledge that WE can turn our backs on Him.