Psalm 24 - The earth is the Lord’s

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it;...
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the LORD...
Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.
Selah
Psalm 24 (NRSV)

This had better be a psalm of hope. Who shall stand in God’s holy place? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts.

That may add up to a large number - but is definitely a small proportion. Even on my best days, that is aspirational more than actual.

The religion of ancient Israel understood that in the course of life and through our very nature, we will not always be right and righteous before God. We do and say and sometimes simply encounter things which compromise our wholeness.

Yet we desire God’s blessing. In our right mind, we long for relationship based in truth and goodness and "getting right" with God and with others. We want to enter into that place where the King of Glory reigns, and welcomes us as well.

The psalm refers to a common theology known as acts-consequences. Simply put, we reap what we sow. More perversely, and untruthfully, good acts are rewarded and bad acts punished. Worse still, success is seen as righteousness, and suffering as sin. We know that the world is not quite so neat and tidy.

Yet we also hope, with the psalmist, that "those who do not lift up their souls to what is false...will receive blessing from the Lord." We may need help to get clean, but our every approach to God's holy hill (whether it's a pilgrimage to the Holy City, a service at synagogue, temple, masjid, or church, opening the holy book or turning to God in prayer) might begin with that hope that the gates will open to us. The Lord, strong and mighty, the King of glory, is the one for whom the doors open. The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it. That even includes me.

Credits:
"Walkers ascending the hill towards Cefn Ffordd (trans. ridgeway)- an ancient upland thoroughfare." © Copyright Alan Richards and licensed for reuse under (CC BY-SA 2.0).
"Open doors green", (CC0 1.0) Public Domain.

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