Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Mar 10 2019 - Psalm 24 – The earth is the Lord's

Today's psalm begins by reminding us that the whole world and everything in it belongs to the Lord. He created it all and it is his; we should count nothing we possess as our own. God is therefore worthy of the worship and devotion of our hearts and of our lives.

But the question is then asked, "Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?" God is holy and righteous; how then can anyone stand in his presence?

This psalm gives us the beginning of an answer. The person who may come before God is, "The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god." This is all very well, but which of us can say we pass this test? We readily identify with the words of the general confession:

Almighty and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done …

How can we "receive blessing from the Lord"? In the words of a wonderful hymn by Thomas Binney:

There is a way for man to rise
  To that sublime abode;
An offering and a sacrifice,
A Holy Spirit’s energies,
  An Advocate with God.

The "offering and a sacrifice" that the hymn speaks of is that of the Lord Jesus; he offered himself as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. In him and through him all of our sins are forgiven and we are made fit to stand in the presence of the living God. Moreover, he is also risen from the dead and has entered heaven on our behalf. He is our Advocate with God and he intercedes for us.

The latter verses of this psalm have often been read in connection with the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus. He is the King of glory who has defeated sin and death. Imagine the welcome the risen Christ received when he returned to the courts of heaven:

Lift up your heads, you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The LORD strong and mighty,
    the LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
    lift them up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.

Jesus is the one through whom and for whom all things were created; the earth is his and everything in it. He is the one who has redeemed us and has entered heaven on our behalf. It is through him that we also receive a ready welcome in the courts of heaven.

God of Jacob, we seek your face through the name and merits of your Son, Jesus Christ. He is the one with clean hands and a pure heart who has a right to stand in your presence. Coming in his name we are confident of our acceptance as we come before you in worship. Like Jacob of old, we lay hold of you in prayer and will not let you go until you bless us – and make us a blessing.

Peter Misselbrook