Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Our Common Prayerbook 24 – 2


The psalms are prayers, and we learn to pray by watching the psalmists pray. Which reminds me of Lynn Anderson’s book, a book that examines who we learn to talk back to God in the psalms: Talking Back to God: Speaking Your Heart to God Through the Psalms
. He helps us imagine listening in on the honest hearts of the psalmists.

There are three sections, mostly unrelated, in Psalm 24. We look today at vv. 3-6 and you can read the text after the jump.

Today’s passage asks a simple question: Who is fit for the presence of God? Which in the psalmist’s categories means who is fit for the Temple? The psalmist qualifies those who are fit in these terms:
1. Those who have clean hands and 
2. pure hearts,
3. who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
4. and do not swear deceitfully. 
As Goldingay puts it, this is not a test for who can get in to the Temple as if these things could be measured, but instead a warning to the worshipers to come prepared. See Psalms 1. Some see the first two in relation to God and the second to in relation to humans.
These people, the psalmist announces, will gain God’s blessing and God’s vindication.
These people are those who genuinely seek God.
The psalmist tells us who this people is: Jacob. Thus, the theme of election is tied to the theme of heart-rightness and behavior-rightness.


Psa. 24:0   Of David. A Psalm. 
The earth is the LORD’S and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it; 
for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.
Psa. 24:3     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
Psa. 24:7     Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in. 
Who is the King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle. 
Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in. 
10  Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
he is the King of glory. Selah
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Ann F-R

posted July 22, 2010 at 2:58 pm

hmmm…I didn’t find this psalm to have unrelated sections in my studies. It’s a psalm of ascent, used liturgically by people going to the temple to worship, according to Gerald Wilson & others. It reinforces right-worship of the LORD:
The 1st 2 verses identify Who is the LORD whom we worship. This God created all things, and stabilizes that creation. The last verses parallel the first 2 and celebrate this LORD of hosts, the king of glory!
Which humans worship this God is revealed by their actions. The 4th verse identifies the human who has clean hands. A word study shows that the Hebrew word for “clean” is most frequently used in relation to having no human blood on one’s hands. Recalling that David did not build a temple for that very reason (1 Chron. 22:6-8) provides some context for why blood-free hands are important.
Clean hands (that did not kill other humans), pure hearts (cf. Psalm 51), & not swearing deceitfully (false witness) all hearken back to the 10 commandments, the covenant between God and Israel. That they aren’t to worship another god is reflected in the Psalm’s phrasing of “do not lift up” themselves to what is false (the Hebrew/Greek LXX words point to idol worship – “vain” worship of “emptiness” which is also reflected in Paul’s word choice in 1 Cor. 15).
So when I read this psalm, I hear the OT “Jesus Creed” in a poetic, liturgical reminder of Deut. 5, 6 and 10. Love God, love neighbor. We cannot worship this God and hate our brothers & sisters. (1 John 3:11-18, e.g.)

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