Who may climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
Only those whose hands and hearts are pure,
who do not worship idols
and never tell lies.
They will receive the Lord’s blessing
and have a right relationship with God their savior.
Such people may seek you
and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.
Imagine showing up to the airport without a ticket or your government issued ID. You may want to get on a plane, but without the proper documentation, you’ll never make it past security. I’ve even heard of people being turned away because the spelling of their name on their ticket didn’t exactly match their driver’s license. That would be a huge disappointment. If airport security is tight, how hard do you think it is to be admitted into God’s holy presence? David had a pretty clear idea of what it takes: moral and spiritual purity. Only those who are good and upright can come before God. Only those who don’t worship idols and who don’t tell lies can enter his presence. Only those who are righteous will be allowed near God.
Is that really true? In one sense, it absolutely is. David understood that climbing “the mountain of the Lord” is a privilege reserved only for the righteous, only for people not stained by sin, “only those whose hands and hearts are pure.” We can’t argue with that. God is too holy to allow sinners to be near him. So, where does that leave us? Are you worthy of being with God? Am I good enough to stand before him? I am a sinner, and if you’ll allow me to speak boldly, so are you. For that matter, so was David. Who then can approach God’s holy presence?
To answer this all-important question, we need to look ahead to the New Testament, where we find the good news of Jesus Christ. David was right that only those who are righteous and pure can be near God, and Jesus came to make it possible for sinners like us to become righteous and to freely enter God’s presence. The only way our hands and hearts can be pure enough to stand before God is to have our sin washed completely away, and that’s exactly what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. When we read the Old Testament, including the beautiful words of David’s Psalms, we need to filter it through the more glorious truth of the New Testament. David’s words – written 1,000 years before Jesus – remain true, and now we can more fully understand them. Here is the wonderful truth: you are welcome before God because Jesus died to wash clean your hands and your heart. That is the good news we believe and that we share with the world.
Thank You, Jesus, for taking away my sin and for allowing me to enter Your holy presence. I know I am not worthy, but I believe Your grace washes me clean. I rejoice that I can know and love You forever, through Your mighty and merciful name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian