Theme: Part Two: Who May Come to God?
In this week’s lessons we learn how this psalm serves as a Messianic psalm, as Jesus enters into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as Israel’s King.
Scripture: Psalm 24:1-10
Who may come to such a great king to pay homage? This is no mere earthly monarch, whose presence would be awe-inspiring enough, but rather the thrice holy God. Who dares come into his holy presence? The answer to this question is in verses 3-6, and it is both wonderfully complete and profound. It falls into two parts.
1. The heart of the worshiper. Verse 4 answers the important question of verse 3 in terms of the worshiper’s inner character and outward actions. It also answers it in terms of his relationship to God and to other people. The one who may approach God is: “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.”
To have a “pure heart” refers to inward holiness. It is what Jesus was speaking of in the Sermon on the Mount when he said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt. 5:8).
“Clean hands” refers to one who is holy in deed, that is, in outward actions as well as inwardly. It is the exact opposite of Pilate, who, though he washed his hands publicly, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood” (Matt. 27:24), nevertheless was guilty. He was violating the laws of Rome as well as of his conscience by agreeing to the crucifixion of one he had three times declared “not guilty” (cf. John 18:38; 19:4, 6).
The next line refers to one who has a right relationship to God; he worships the true God, not idols. The third line describes one who has a right relationship to others. He is an honest person; he has not sworn falsely.
These requirements are a shortened version of the psalm mentioned earlier, Psalm 15. Indeed, they are so close to it that either the author of the one psalm knew or copied from the other or else, which is what is claimed and is most likely, both were written by the same man, namely, King David. Psalm 15 asks the question: “LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” It answers:
He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellow man, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent (vv. 2-5).
This is the inner character of those who please God. These are the ones God approves.
Who can come into the presence of the King? Explain the meaning of verse 4.
What other psalm is similar at this point, and how?
Reflection: Is your inner character one in which God approves?