Psalm 24 - who is worthy?



Psalm 24 begins with a statment affirming God's sovereign creation and ownership of the whole earth and everything that lives upon it.

From this starting point the question is raised 'Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?' [v3].

If this is who God is,  the sovereign creator and owner of everything and everyone, who is worthy to stand before him? Who is worthy to enter his presence? Who is worthy to live in the same place as he who by his presence makes the place where he is holy?

The answer to the question is given: '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.' [v4].

We are tempted to see ourselves as this person who is considered worthy. We like to think that our hands are clean, our hearts are pure, and that our soul has never embraced a false god. We would rather not think about those other scriptures that rip such confidence away from us: 'All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one' [Psalm 14:3; see also 53:1-3; Romans 3:9-20].

If we are honest we are left with the devastating knowledge that we do not qualify to ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in his holy place. As sin did to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, so it does now to us: it bans us from God's presence, it disqualifies us from fellowship with him, erecting an impassable barrier between us. It denies us the blessedness and vindication spoken of in verse 5.

But then a change comes to this Psalm [v7-10]. Just when it seems that even the physical gates of the temple were drooped with the overwhelming sadness generated by a totally disqualified world, a joyful call rings out. Just when it seemed that the doors of God's house would remain permanently closed, they are roused with an exultant cry to open. There is one coming who is worthy to enter. There is one coming who will not be denied admission.

The King of glory comes.

It seems at first that the subject of the Psalm has changed. It is easy to miss the connection between the question 'Who is worthy?' and the statements about this King of glory. Until we remember Jesus Christ. Until we remember that he who is indeed the King of glory, the LORD strong and mighty, the LORD Almighty, once lived among us, sharing our lot, bearing our sin, rising to enter the very presence of God as our great High Priest, our Mediator, our Representative [Hebrews 4:14-16; 9:19-22].

This King of glory has come, bringing permanently into God's holy presence all whom the Father has given to him [John 10:27-30], all who are united to him by faith. Clothed with his righteousness, the unworthy are deemed worthy [Colossions 1:12,22; Hebrews 10:10,14], the wicked are justified [Romans 4:5]. Those who were cursed [Galatians 3:10] are lavished with blessings [Ephesians 1:3].