This Week's Focus Passage

Psalm 24:3 ‘Who shall ascend into the hill of Jehovah?’

This Weeks Focus Passage: Psalm 24:3

‘Who shall ascend into the hill of Jehovah?’


                “It is not he who sings so well or so many Psalms, nor he who fasts or watches so many days, nor he who divides his own among the poor, nor he who preaches to others, nor he who lives quietly, kindly and friendly; nor, in fine, nor is it he who knows all sciences and languages, nor he who works all virtuous and all good works that ever any man spoke or read of, but it is he alone, who is pure within and without.”—Martin Luther. I would presume that Luther would agree in total with Isaac Williams, who averred that the conditions set down here by David in his lovely psalm were “Conditions that suit none but Christ. He that hath clean hands; the clean of hands, Marg.,:” Williams went on to say; “those hands from which went forth virtue and healing; hands ever lifted up in prayer to God, or in blessing to man; hands stretched forth on the cross for the cleansing of the whole world.”

What man shall ascend into the hill of Jehovah? Who is there having clean hands? Who is there owning a pure heart? Who is such a person that hath never lifted up his soul unto falsehood; neither sworn deceitfully? If such a man can be found, he is the one, the only, that merits a blessing from Jehovah. He alone shall be called righteousness itself. Psalm 15, also written by David, and conspicuously parallel with 24, raises the very same questions, employing closely similar language, albeit more verbally extensive. The list of ‘qualifications’ is not only more extensive in quantity, but also adds a harsher, a deeper, perhaps a more vilifying quality, or tone, to the negativity embossed in the language. It is more akin to the ‘thou shalt not’s of the Ten Commandments. Yes, it has the positive prescriptions such as, he that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh truth in his heart. But subsequent to these prescriptions, there are added a number of proscriptions such as, he that slandereth NOT with his tongue, or doeth evil to his friend, NOR taketh up a reproach against his neighbor. Verse four does return to prescriptive content, and five concludes with a blessing, He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

                Who is able to meet these rigid requirements? Who shall dwell in the holy hill of God? Christ alone; plus those who are—to use the title of a recent addition to our repertoire of praise songs—‘in Christ alone;’ those that are His seed. Those who are heirs of the kingdom He has brought in by His incarnation, and bought, purchasing with His own blood. Those only have been given the birthright through the electing grace of Jehovah, our God. This birthright has been ratified; signed, sealed, and delivered by Jesus Christ, our Great Advocate; paid for by His own blood shed upon Golgotha.

                The Bridegroom has paid the dowry for His bride. The Father has accepted that dowry, and when the Bridegroom returns to take His bride to the wedding feast, she will be fully cleansed, sanctified by the grace of God, every spot and wrinkle having been removed. She will be waiting with oil in her lamp; waiting to hear that glorious cry, Behold, the bridegroom! Come ye forth to meet him. Perhaps that will be the occasion pointed at in the last four verses of the 24th Psalm. The huge difference in these two extremely similar psalms, 15 and 24, is contained in the second half of 24, if we may be content with uneven halves, verses 7-10, where we hear this astounding cry unto heaven, if we may put it that way:

                                                                Lift up your heads, O ye gates;

                                                And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors:

                                                And the King of glory will come in.

                                                                Who is the King of glory?

                                                Jehovah strong and mighty,

                                                Jehovah mighty in battle.

                                                                Lift up your heads, O ye gates;

                                                Yea, lift them up, ye everlasting doors:

                                                And the King of glory will come in.

                                                                Who is this King of glory?

                                                Jehovah of host, He is the King of glory.   [Selah


Is that too much of a stretch? For us to see that the King of glory; the One and only One who is worthy to ascend into the hill of Jehovah, Jehovah-Jesus Himself is here demonstrated as doing that very thing; ascending into the hill of Jehovah? And is it beyond an inquisition of our imagination to see before us the Bridegroom taking His bride with Him? May we not see the victorious Bridegroom crying up to the gates of heaven, Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and the Bridegroom, the King of glory, will come in, with His lovely bride? Is this not what John, on Patmos, was able to see?

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And he that heareth,

let him say, Come. And he that is athirst, let him come: he that

will, let him take the water of life freely.

London’s ‘Prince of Preachers’ penned the following upon these words of our psalm.

“These last verses reveal to us the great representative man, who answered to the full character laid down, and therefore by his own right ascended the holy hill of Zion. Our Lord Jesus Christ could ascend into the hill of the Lord because his hands were clean and his heart was pure, and if we by faith in him are conformed to his image we shall enter too. We have here a picture of our Lord’s glorious ascent. We see him rising from amidst the little group upon Olivet, and as the cloud receives him, angels reverently escort him to the gates of heaven.”—Spurgeon.

As an aside, is there not a relationship between this psalm and coming to the Lord’s Table? We will never be worthy but Christ is eminently worthy. He lifts us up to the table. He will lift us up to the hill of Jehovah. He lifts us up to be with Himself. Even as He has risen, so He raises us from the Table to enjoy communion with Himself.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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