Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord ? or who shall stand in his holy place? – Ps. 24:3 KJV
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Today’s devotion is an extract from one of those Psalms of King David that constantly puts the Christian in check. These set of Psalms provide a standard with which the Christian will be able to measure his/her suitability for the for the act of worship. Whatever may be the many negatives of the character of David, one thing that he cannot be denied of his the fact that he rates highly things of God. He was always ready to do all that needs to be done to the glory of God and will similarly express strong resentment to any act of anyone who attempts to dis-honour or dis-respect the Almighty God. That probably explains why he frequently presents the standard to be attained by all who wish to worship God.
He starts this Psalm by reminding all who care to know that the earth and all that is in it belongs to the Lord, and went further to provide the reason why it is so – Ps. 24:1-2. No doubt, with his ownership of the earth and all that is in it, anyone who desires to have anything from the earth will be in the best position to get it if he/she can approach the owner, in this case, the Almighty God. What better place is there to meet the Lord than in His house or put in other way, His mountain.
Today’s Christian is definitely aware of this which is probably why the churches are threatening to burst on the seams, with people claiming to be worshippers of God. Yes! Claiming to be worshippers, because again, in the psalm of David, he wants anyone who cares to know that mere presence in that location called church is not an assurance that such persons can access the holy place of the Lord, where their request will be heard and probably granted. In the third verse of that psalm which is the foundation text of today’s devotion, David asks the question, the response of which presents what the qualifications of one who can successfully ascend into the hills of the Lord, or even be able to stand in His holy place will be and they are as follows:
1. Such a person must have clean hands. The hand is actually used in several instances to represent the work or activities of a person. When the phrase “ work of my hand” is used, it refers to the result of the physical activities of such a person. When King David referred to “clean hands” in this Psalm, he was actually referring to spiritual rating of the activities of the person. To be clean means that those activities conform with the standards of God. It means that those activities that the individual gets involved with, whether seen or unseen, are such that the Almighty will be proud of. Those activities will definitely not be any of those listed in verses 19 to 21, of chapter 5, of letter of Paul to the Galatians, and other similar acts. Anyone involved in these activities, and expecting that the good Lord will hearken to his/her prayers, should know clearly that it will always remain a fruitless expectation as the Lord does not answer the prayers of such people – Jn. 9:31.
2. Such a person must have a pure heart. God is not just weighing the actions of a prospective worshipper but also checks the intentions. The Bible says it is from the abundance of the heart that man speaks (Matt. 12:34), but not just speaking, but also acting. Jesus Christ himself taught that, what goes into a man does not defile but what comes out of him – Matt. 15:11. He that plans to worship God must approach with very positive intentions. It remains impossible for one with an impure heart to receive any positive response to prayers presented to God – Jms. 4:3.
3. Such must not lift his/her soul unto vanity. To lift one’s soul to vanity is to get excited about all those things that Solomon classified as vanity in the book of Ecclesiastes. Every life achievement remains vanity as none of those achievements can assure one of comfort in the life after life. King Solomon says, one can never be satisfied having any of them because, every so called achievement reveals a new standard, that makes the earlier attained achievement look inferior – Eccl. 3:10-11. King David says anyone who prioritises the acquisition of all these earthly properties can not receive the hearing of the Lord. We, as Christians are expected to seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness for all those earthly acquisitions to be added and not the reverse – Matt. 6:33. Any one who wants to get the hearing of God in prayer must lift his/her heart, only to the things of God.
4. Such a person should avoid swearing and worse still, deceitfully. Swearing is an act that the Bible discourages as Jesus Christ says we should only let our Yes be Yes and our No be No – Matt. 5:34-37. Likewise, the use of swear words are not allowed for Christians – Eph. 4:29. So while it is unacceptable for he that comes before the Lord to have the habit of swearing, it becomes worse when it is done deceitfully. To swear deceitfully is to attempt to cover truth and authenticate falsehood by using a credible personality as a witness. A Christian, will be believed by many because he/she will be seen as someone whose character and conduct is Christ-like. So, when a Christian does a wrong, and denies doing such or insists that it is the right thing to do, people listening to him/her will not consider the person as an individual but will consider the personality whom he is spiritually linked to, in this case Jesus Christ, and so believe his/her position. Meanwhile, such a person is aware that he/she is wrong and the people who he thought he/she was deceiving will eventually know the truth. Such act, ultimately brings the name of the Almighty God and His Messiah to disrepute. Such a person will never get the listening ears of the most high.
Those who are able to operate with these four points and make them the guiding principle for their lives are the ones that are of interest to the Lord. These are the people that David is convinced in verse 5 that,
1. Will receive blessings from the Lord. Such persons will experience the favor and mercy of God in all they do, which will ultimately make them successful in life.
2. Will be conferred with the righteousness of God. By this, all the person’s negatives and imperfections are wiped off or buried and before God and men, such an individual will be seen as perfect and righteous – Is. 54:17.
The above two rewards are actually the main rewards of the Christian life as the major advantage of being a Christian is the attainment of a peaceful and comfortable existence in this realm and the assurance of eternal life in God’s kingdom. These are attributes that are absent or rare amongst Christians. No wonder, there is so much turbulence and evident poverty in Christendom today. The church has overtime become a direct opposite of everything that it should be, as prosperity has become more of a marketing or a con word than a reality. The intense desire to have it, not because the average Christian is greedy to have more, but more because he/she does not even have the minimum to ensure a peaceful and comfortable living, has been greatly exploited by many “men of God”, to further pauperise the Christian.
You are probably a victim of some sorts. This message is for you because, all you need do is to make your regular visits to church, and your spiritual sacrifices, count in your favour, by adhering strictly to the recommendations of King David in this Psalm. There is no doubt that adherence to this will change your situation and you can begin to enjoy all those good rewards that are hidden in the worship of the only true God. May he grant us all the grace to be qualified to worship Him in Jesus name. Amen