Psalm 24 – by Rene Milner

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In Psalm 24:5, the word “receive” intrigues me. The first four verses of the Psalm state that the earth is the Lord’s and all who dwell in them are His because He has made them. Then it asks who can go up the hill of He who made the great vastness? Or who could stand in a place that is set apart by Him who could make such a thing? Really. We often gloss over such a thing. We read Psalm 23 and our hearts are lulled into a self-absorbed sense of security. Yea though I walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death, I shall fear no evil. We feel strong and invincible. Don’t forget the “for Thou art with me” part. Really it means we will fear no evil to the extent that we remember “Thou” art with us and Thy rod and Thy staff (not always instruments of comfort for the sheep!) comfort us. Nonetheless, Psalm 23 goes on comforting but we come to Psalm 24 that asks who can stand in the fear relieving presence of He who made it all. I think that the easy answer to this question for us all is pretty much, nobody. As if the Psalmist is reading our minds he goes on to say, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully”. I don’t think that we have to dig into that one too of are to summarize it with, nobody.Not me, I am pretty sure not others and that leaves nobody. Sort of. I don’t believe he is actually asking for one of us to come forward and claim this responsibility. The writer is simply giving a hyperbole to underscore his point. So what is the point? I didn’t seem to get it at first until I started to meditate on the next verse. “He will receive

Nonetheless, Psalm 23 goes on comforting but we come to Psalm 24 that asks who can stand in the fear relieving presence of He who made it all. I think that the easy answer to this question for us all is pretty much, nobody. As if the Psalmist is reading our minds he goes on to say, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully”. I don’t think that we have to dig into that one too of are to summarize it with, nobody.Not me, I am pretty sure not others and that leaves nobody. Sort of. I don’t believe he is actually asking for one of us to come forward and claim this responsibility. The writer is simply giving a hyperbole to underscore his point. So what is the point? I didn’t seem to get it at first until I started to meditate on the next verse. “He will receive blessing from the LORD

and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” So if this one who has clean hands and a pure heart can stand in the presence of God why does he need to receive righteousness? Isn’t having clean hands, a pure heart and not lifting up his soul to falseness or swearing deceitfully a description of righteousness? Why does he need to receive these from God? So if he needs to receive these from God he must not have righteousness. But how can one have both iniquity and be pure? Unless he is carrying the iniquity of someone else perhaps. The iniquity He has is not His own but He bears it for another and He Himself has clean hands and a pure heart. Get the picture? The one ascending the hill is not one of us per se. He is pure and without falseness, deceit, guilty hands or a heart of sin. He climbs that hill, reaches that place that is set apart by the Maker of it all. Still what is the point? God is Holy and set apart from us. We believe Jesus is Holy. So it only makes sense that Jesus can do this. So why does the psalmist point out that we are not the ones? Why does he point out so eloquently that nobody else can do this?

Meditate on verse 24:5. No really. Put this down and meditate on it.

Check out what the word “receive” (Hebrew nasah) means. I think that it answers this question. Look at the definition in a Strong’s or Brown Driver Briggs dictionary.

To lift, to carry, to bear. It can be to be lifted or carried or borne. Mostly it is used of bearing something difficult or lifting up the eyes or the hands towards something. Out of 695 usages in the old testament, it is only used three times for receive. Only a handful of the usages are in this sense at all. (accepted, pardon, spare, exalt) All of which are easily replaced with the idea of “lifting up” or “bearing”. Sounds different, doesn’t it? This Man with pure hands and a clean heart, He shall carry the blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of salvation(noteIleftouttheword his). It isn’t about us getting something. That word receive to us makes us think back on ourselves. The fact that no man can ascend that hill or cross that great divide makes us realize that it is not about us. And as we think of receiving not so much as getting but carrying or lifting up, it makes a pretty clear vision of Another carrying our burdens up that hill and across that great divide and bearing back the blessing from the LORD and the righteousness from the God of salvation.

The Psalmist then goes on to explain that this is the generation that seeks after God. In the verses immediately following there is a picture of a city “receiving” the King of Glory. Four times in the next four verses, that word nasah is used. Each time it is translated “lift up”. You need to read it:

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, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them 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.

What are the people of Jacob doing? They are opening the gates, they are opening the doors, they are opening them that the King of Glory may return into the city. Not a King coming to pillage and destroy but the conquering King of Glory coming back to His city I would suggest bearing the spoils that a conquering king carries with Him. I guess in the end we do “receive” those blessings, but this psalm is not about us. We do not have clean hands or the rest of it. We cannot cross that divide. We cannot carry those burdens. We cannot even carry the burden of blessing and righteousness well. Only He can do this and we are to receive Him. Open your doors and your gates you person. That the King of Glory may come in. Receive willingly the blessing and righteousness that He bears from His trip up the hill carrying our guilt and shame. Do what you can to lift up your eyes unto Him and to lift up your hands for Him. The King of Glory. Amen.

Rene Milner

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