Summary: David explores the qualifications for entering God’s Kingdom and reports that it is only those who have known God as the God of their salvation.
HOW DAVID ENTERED JERUSALEM
"Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?" (24:1) These are the questions that David raised in the 24th Psalm. Whenever there’s going to be some great event in public life there’s always some special music composed to celebrate the occasion. When the Queen celebrated the Golden Jubilee of her Reign Westminster Abbey echoed with the sounds of the trumpets and mighty organ. But even in more every day life it still applies. When we get married it’s usual for the organist to play a suitable wedding march.
The same urge to celebrate red-letter days to the sound of music and singing existed in Bible days. Psalm 24 is a song for a special occasion. It was to be sung as a processional song as David brought the Ark of the Covenant into the newly captured city of Jerusalem. It was to be a great day for at long last David had finished fighting to gain control of the country. The city of Jebus was the last enemy stronghold to fall into his hands. It was just the place that David wanted for his capital city. It had never really belonged to the northern kingdom of Israel nor to the southern kingdom of Judah and so neither the people of the north or of the south of the country would be offended by David’s choice. Yes, this was to be a great occasion, when he would ceremonially take possession of Jebus, and rename it Jerusalem, Zion, the city of God. David took great care in preparing for this outstanding event and part of this was in composing a beautiful psalm that would be sung as he triumphantly took possession of the city.
As David pondered over his plans he began to realise that coming up to Jerusalem with the Ark wasn’t only a physical journey, it was a spiritual experience of the greatest importance as well. Like all the other inspired prophetic figures of the Bible his awareness of God was heightened as the Holy Spirit came upon him. He forgot that his conquest of Jerusalem was the crowning point of his career; he forgot about his hopes of setting up his own home for the first time. He came to the conclusion that:
TO KNOW GOD IS THE REASON FOR OUR EARTHLY LIFE
First he thought of God and His creation :"the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it" (1). The God whom David worshipped was He who made and owns this universe, wholly, complete and without exception. And then it seems that the vision came nearer as he thought of the inhibited world: "the world, and all that live in it." God is the rightful owner of all: "for he founded it … he established it" (2). Some call into question the existence of a personal God. There are those would claim that the God of the Bible’s revelation is dead. But David would have nothing of this. His God was alive, the all-powerful Creator - He was "the Lord".
David was so convinced of this that he wrote in another psalm: "The fool says in his heart, ’There is no God’" (14:1). If you study the most primitive peoples in the world you find that they have a sense of a Higher Being. They may express it in various ways - worship of stones or trees, or ancestor spirits, but they all have got this sense of a superior being of a God who is beyond all other gods. It’s only as man got more sophisticated that he fooled himself into believing that "there is no God."
After getting his perspective right David was guided by the Spirit to his own relationship with this great God of creation. So it was that he asked the question, "Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?" That was the most pertinent question David could ask. Who is qualified to enter the presence of God Almighty? It’s a question we are well advised to know the answer to, and to be absolutely certain we conform to its requirements. So often we fail to get that perspective right because we’re so close to earthly life that we see nothing else. Our lives in the goodness of God may stretch over 70 years or even more, but what’s that when seen the perspective of an endless eternity. Let’s follow David’s line of thought as he asks, "Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?" David flashes out the answer without hesitation. It’s a fourfold:
QUALIFICATION FOR ENTRY INTO GOD’S KINGDOM
"He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false" (4). In other words, what God wants is the person who is righteous, honest and honourable. These are in fact the moral attributes of God Himself. This is confirmed by the description given of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s described as "holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners" (Heb 7:26). That’s the man who can stand in the presence of God. That’s the man or woman, David goes on to say, who "will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Saviour" (5). But who, who on earth, can achieve this? It’s utterly impossible to meet this requirement.