"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, and vindication from the God of their salvation. Such is the company of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah" Psalms 24.3-6
The last line of his translation didn’t make much sense to me so I checked a couple of other translations: “,..who seek the face of the God of Jacob” was in two of them. I only checked this so that the unusual wording would not be a distraction to the psalm itself, which is a hymn used while carrying the Ark of the Covenant into the place of worship. Who is worthy to enter this holy place? Those with clean hands and pure hearts, who don’t worship idols and don’t lie, are the ones who are worthy. Can you imagine the people singing this hymn walking up the hill to enter the temple? Do they understand the meaning of what they are singing? Would you or I? I’m not sure that I could do that with a clear conscience. Of course, I sometimes have the same problem with the Lord’s Prayer, when I have a problem with forgiveness! But what does it mean for us? If we look at it in relation to entry into heaven, it makes us stop and think. I know that God forgives us, but we need to repent. Jesus tells us that if we realize that we need to ask forgiveness while we are on our way to the altar, we need to settle with that person first. That’s the same meaning as this hymn. It’s no wonder that churches that have a Eucharistic celebration ask everyone to say the Lord’s Prayer first so that they will acknowledge their sinfulness and ask forgiveness before approaching the altar. We are all seeking God in our lives and this psalm tells us what we need to do: have a clean heart, keep our focus on God, and don’t lie. Dear God, help me to turn away from all wickedness. I know that those who are wicked will suffer eternal damnation. Instead, help me to live a life that leaves a legacy that others will use as model for following You. O Lord, Your name has power and You will never be forgotten. Thank You for showing me mercy and protecting me from the wicked. In Jesus’ name, amen.