Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
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. Psalms 24:3-4 [ESV]
All throughout Psalms there are these definitions of acceptability. Taking these in Psalms in the context of the merciful grace given to us by God through His Son has a huge impact.
Verse 3: Who SHALL ascend and stand in His holy place? -> I love the explicit declaration that whoever meets the following criteria SHALL ascend and stand.
He who has clean hands and pure heart -> This person must be innocent inside and out. Innocent in actions and their minds…including their motives.
He who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. -> False worship is one interpretation (from NIV). The person allowed entry into the holy place must not worship an idol or offer oaths in the name of a false god. Additionally, it is pointing to someone who does not lie or make promises they have no intention of keeping.
At first blush this is depressing because we are inherently sinful and even though I am a born again Christian and devoted to Jesus, I will fall. So, I don’t think the Psalmist is saying these things are a self-righteous declaration as much as it is a solemn admission of dependence on the merciful grace of God. I SHALL ascend and stand in the holy place because I am cleansed by the precious blood of my Savior when I confess and repent of my sin. Because of the redemptive work of God through Jesus, I am able to meet these qualifications.
Psalms 20:7-8 [ESV]
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.
All of chapter 20 is filled with “Mays“.
- May the Lord answer you…
- May He send you help…
- May He protect you…
- May He remember all your sacrifices…
- May He give you the desires of your heart…
- May the Lord grant all your requests…
The entire chapter is a blessing to the anointed king of Israel. The nation of Israel did not put its faith in its military might, but in the name of of the Lord. David personified this when he made this statement before killing Goliath.
You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
1 Samuel 17:45
There are so many things that we substitute for military might in our own lives here on earth. Money, career, reputation, and even good things like family can unseat Who should be the real Lord of our lives, Jesus. Keeping this fact, constantly in my vision is so important. I can easily get caught up in ‘right-fighting’, or even feeling justified in ‘how I feel’ being cannons and ramparts for my life battle. I must daily put my trust in the Name of the Lord my God.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalms 19:14 [ESV]
It’s been a tough couple of weeks at work. Won’t go into it here but I had a meeting today that was plain awful. It was uncomfortable, I felt alone, I felt misunderstood, and I felt overwhelmed. On my way home I was just praying to the Lord to give me peace about how I handled myself. Before entering the room, I had been meditating on Galatians 5:22-26. Although the meeting was hard and ended not far from where it began, I had only one acceptable outcome I was striving for -> Honor the Lord with my words, actions, behaviors, and stay true to who God has called me to be. I did that and although the meeting was as uncomfortable as it was, I left assured that I had represented integrity, gentleness, kindness, patience, peace, goodness, and self-control.
I am very glad this meeting is over and I am anxious to see where the Lord takes this. Knowing that I am laying this at His feet and trust that He is in control; I submit to whatever the path is that the Lord sets in front of me going forward.
He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me. Psalms 18:16-19 [ESV]
A quick read this morning as I get ready to head into the office. Following on from yesterday, I was thinking about David and his physical enemies that God was addressing but I can’t help but think that he was talking about the internal enemy as well – himself. If I read this and apply it to my heart, rather than a physical enemy, the point is so strong.
“He took me and drew me out of many waters” – because David had submitted himself entirely to the Lord in this moment. I wonder if the ‘many waters’ includes his own tendencies and sin.
“They were too mighty for me” – David knew that he could not of his own power rescue himself from his situation. The surrender and acknowledgement of his own weakness was his submission to God to do what only He could.
“They confronted me in the day of my calamity, BUT the Lord was my support” – Again, pointing this internally, I see how not letting my own guilt and shame ruin me because of who I am in Jesus. I have been justified forever; I have been adopted as a son of the Almighty God.
“Because He delighted in me” – This is the icing on the cake. God was not angered by having to rescue David. God did not hold David’s failings in front of his face; no, God delighted in David. Wow!
These last couple of weeks (15 days to be exact) I have not gotten my quiet times posted. I will have them updated for each day but for those of you who get my email notice of a new post, I will turn that off for past posts that I need to get transcribed here. You are welcome to check back every once in awhile to see what has come in but I will not bother you with the deluge of post notifications that will be coming. 🙂
In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds. Psalms 18:6-12
Marianne and I finished Week 3 of the Canyon Hills Biblical Counseling class this week and the information is so awesome…overwhelming, but awesome! When I read this passage today, I reminded me of the amazing help our Lord and Savior can become for us when we make Him the Lord of our lives. Our raw nature is corrupt because of what we have been born with in sin. When we release our own inward self-sufficient attitude and embrace the power of God Himself available to us through His Word and Holy Spirit, I think it can look a lot like what I read here. Essentially an overwhelming decent of attack on the aspects of ourselves that get in front of our restoration.
One of the things that really spoke to me 2 weeks ago in class, is the fact that we must first ‘Speak truth to ourselves’ before we come to the counseling room with pointers to the answers God has for us. As the counselor, I better have my act together understanding what my own tendencies are before I try to guide someone to the Redeemer. Of course God does not need me to reach those to whom He is going to call to Himself, but I also don’t want to be any type of stumbling block either.
So grateful that our church is offering this training. Only 3 weeks in and I am already seeing the benefit in my own walk.
O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the Lord; Psalms 15:1&4ab [ESV]
At first glance, the first part of verse 4, “in whose eyes a vile person is despised” might seem Pharisaical. In fact, this is more an assertion of loyalty. He’s not trying to compete or judge; he’s just expressing his preference and his position.
I must be careful not to take passages like this as a ‘right’ to despise an enemy of God; rather the rest of the bible and Jesus Himself commands us to love others including our enemies. What this does do is reinforce how I align my loyalty to my brothers and sisters in Christ over those who would oppose my co-heirs and Christ Himself.
As I live my life, I am to be a ‘light’ in the darkness and blatantly/outwardly expressing a despising of enemies of God is detrimental to being the light God has called me to be. Instead, I am to love my enemy, offering them a drink of water or bread to eat, which will heap burning coals on their head.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:18-21 [ESV]
O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill? v3 -> who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend; Psalms 15:1&3
I covered verse 2 yesterday which speaks of a man’s character as ‘True’ as one who shall dwell with God in His tent and on His holy hill. Today we look at verse 3 which talks about a man’s words that are ‘restrained’.
The word for slander implies ‘going around’ to spy or gossip (Gen. 42:9 and following; also, in different words, Lev. 19:16). It is closer to scandal than slander. Neighbor is a Hebrew word that can have different meanings depending on the context; here it could just mean ‘someone else’, and this middle ground fits better with the picture than proximity would. In the last phrase, ‘takes up a reproach’ could mean either ‘throws shade’ or ‘digs up something shameful’, in the sense of bringing it up unnecessarily. The whole verse expands on the idea of Proverbs 10:12: ‘Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offences.’
The book Respectable Sins (by Jerry Bridges) comes to mind. I have a regrettable propensity to talk about someone in the light of ‘praying for them’ when speaking to others and I am convicted by this verse in the same way I was when I read Bridge’s book. I sometimes find myself unwittingly justifying gossip because it is clothed in support through caring-through-sharing. I have prayerfully asked the Holy Spirit for a pang of conscience when I am on the cusp of doing this and I am so thankful He has. In my walk of sanctification, I want to grow to be more and more Christ-like and build the alignment of my actions around the ‘Fruits of the Spirit’.
Psalms 15:1-2 [ESV]
O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
I am camping out here in Psalms 15 for a bit. This is a beautiful passage outlining the attributes of the person shall dwell with the Lord in His presence. The second verse starts this enumeration with one who has a blameless walk, does right, and speaks truth in his heart.
A blameless walk is a tall order to begin with. Everything I do in my life has to result in outcomes that carry no blame. This is impossible for me to do of my own volition. My heart is too sick and my flesh is too weak without the Lord’s strength. Only when I am connected to the Spirit in prayer and saturated in God’s Word do I have what I need from the Lord to navigate a blameless walk.
This is followed closely by doing what is right. How do I know what is right? I know because I obey God’s Word and am attentive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Both of these again require that I am in fellowship with my Lord and Savior.
Finally, speaking truth in my heart is the inner voice that operates in honor to the Lord even when no one is watching. What goes on in the quietness of my mind must know the Truth and apply it. As I read ahead, I am realizing that this needs to be a chapter that I can recite to myself from memory; reminding my inner man what walking through God’s tent and patiently sitting in His temple requires.
How thankful I am to have the gift of the Spirit through my Salvation and the additional promises and instruction that the Bible carries beyond David’s day. So much to be thankful for.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad. Psalms 14:7 [ESV]
Even though he is surrounded by enemies and facing death, the psalmist does not lose his faith and hope in God. He knows that God is on his side and will deliver him from his troubles. He calls on God’s people to rejoice and praise him for his salvation. He trusts that God will show his justice and mercy to the world.
The Apostle Paul uses this psalm, along with other passages from the Old Testament, to show that no human being can claim to be righteous before God. He argues that everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and that no one can be justified by obeying the law. He says that only by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, can anyone be saved.
We are living in that restoration period – God has called us to Himself and being that we have been redeemed by belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, we can rejoice in the salvation we have secured by grace in Jesus alone.
We live in a period surrounded by those the Psalmist was calling out as fools. I must take every opportunity to share my faith and testimony to a watching word of hopelessness. I know the answer to their problems, and I am called to share those answers with ever lost person God gives me the privilege of talking to. I can’t let the hopelessness I see be the catalyst for withholding a word or Shema moment; it can be too easy to people as ‘lost causes’ sometimes but making that assumption is a seed of unbelief that God is powerful enough to change hardened hearts.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is none who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God. Psalms 14:1-2 [ESV]
<I know I am behind in my posting so apologies for the stack of ones coming that catch me up.>
Psalms 14 starts with a comment on the fool. The Hebrew language has different words for fool. The writer here uses the word nābāl, which is hard to define exactly, but there is a commentator who explains it well when he says, ‘a nābāl is a kind of fool, low and worthless and a target of ridicule. He is not just dumb, but . . . morally bad’. This is clear in the second line of the first verse, where the fool is shown to be very wicked. But the main thing about fools is that they ignore God. It doesn’t matter if they really don’t believe in God or not. As Proverbs 1:7 says, ‘The fear of the Lord is the start of wisdom’, and here we see the opposite of that: the denial of God is the beginning of stupidity and moral decay.
The second verse starts to peel apart God’s view; looking down to evaluate the hearts of men to see ‘if there are any who understand’ and more importantly, any who seek after Him. We know what happens to those who seek after God, they find Him – it is one His amazing truths. In my walk with this Lord, this is a foundational part of my faith…that as long as I keep my nose in His word, He promises to reciprocate through His Holy Spirit’s influence in my life.
I am looking forward to this Thursday which is the first of the classes on becoming a Canyon Hills Certified Counselor. Marianne and I have committed to putting in the work finally to get the education we need to step into this role more deliberately as God has been directing us in our ministry relationships. More to come on this as learn what the Lord has to say in His word about coming alongside those who are hurting and need the direction from God’s perfect word to see the answers to their issues.