Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity nor sworn decietfully. He shall recieve the blessing of the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
The hill of the Lord!
On that hill heaven and earth embrace each other.
What a joy it is to climb the hill of the Lord.
From an outward point of view there isn’t much that seems to make this hill any different from the others. This was true in David’s day, Jerusalem was the city set upon a hill. There is no question, but that Jerusalem was a splendid city. Her walls were fortified, her gates were well fixed, majestically she crowned the naked rock and sheer cliffs. There were however, other cities that possessed as great and even greater splendor from this point of view. Nineveh and Rameses could well outdo Jerusalem in such a contest.
Within the walls of Jerusalem there arose still another hill. Part of the city was elevated above the rest. On this summit stood a tabernacle. It wasn’t much to the eyes; even David bemoaned that the Lord should dwell in such a humble abode. Not until the reign of Solomon was it replaced with the splendor of the temple. Nevertheless, David’s joy in this psalm centers in this tabernacle. It is this structure that is the focal point ofPsalm 24, for it alone made the hill of Jerusalem the hill of the Lord!
Jehovah dwelt in this tabernacle on top of this hill. Not that He was confined or limited to this one place; that would be impossible for He is the omnipresent God. Rather, it was in the dwelling place on the hill that God had fellowship with His people. This was a great wonder. The whole earth was cursed, and mankind was under the sentence of death. This death is an expression of judgment and wrath of almighty God against the sinner. Yet, in the midst of the blackness of death, while the whole earth was enshrouded in the black veil of God’s wrath, there was one place that was excluded, and that was behind the veil in the holy of holies, within the tabernacle on top of this hill in the heart of Jerusalem, in Judah of the land of Canaan. This was Jehovah’s hill, His dwelling place, His home in the midst of death.
This hill radiated the glory of His presence. Since God is the, holy God, His dwelling place is holy. We need but recall that Moses after he dwelt forty days in the mount of the Lord returned to the people, and they could not gaze upon him, for his countenance was as a bright light. Similarly, Peter, James, and John beheld the exalted Christ in His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. There, too, He appeared in glistening white and sinful man could not look upon Him. So, too, in the temple, the most holy place was filled with the glory, of the Lord, the Shekinah. God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. His dwelling place reflects His own character. He alone is the highest good and perfectly consecrated unto Himself.
To climb the hill of the Lord indicates that we enter into the presence of the Lord, we join Him in His sanctuary.
That is a good place to be, for, according to this text, it is on this hill that God dispenses righteousness and blessing. In these two words we have summarized all that God gives to us in His favor. In righteousness we have the necessary foundation for the friendship of God. God’s friendship is not extended to the sinner in his sins, rather to the opposite, the sinner who becomes righteous. Righteousness is the legal aspect of our salvation. By it God declares that we have no sin before His holy law, and that as Judge He views our whole life as perfectly conformed to His sovereign will and purpose. Once we are righteous, God continues to pour out His blessings upon us. He frees us from the corrupting dominion of sin, and writes His law upon the tables of our heart. Under the blessing of God we are converted from sinner to saint, and thus responsive to the fellowship of God upon His holy hill.
What does all this really mean to us from the view-point of our daily life? It means that the burden of sin is lifted from us on the hill of the Lord. Our transgressions bring us very low, for our conscience accuses us. The damning evidence burns its way into our inmost self, and we cannot find peace with ourselves. We ascend the hill of the Lord, and He takes from us that terrible burden and assures us of the joy of forgiveness. As we learn to hate our sins, the power of sin becomes increasingly wearisome. We struggle day after day with the weaknesses of our flesh, and desire to be more zealous in faith. Yet, we find the forces of evil gnawing their way into the fiber of our life and our spiritual vertebrae-weaken, and we collapse into the ravine of death. Grace draws us out of the depths of sin and leads us to the hill of the Lord to be strengthened. Frequently we fret beneath a load of care, being burdened with sicknesses and sufferings and wonder whether the face of the Lord is against us. We sorrow in our loneliness, and often question the mind of the Most High. All this changes when we pause on the crest of the hill and gaze upon the face of the Almighty. The righteousness of the Lord and blessing from the God of our salvation bring a deeply rooted peace in our soul.
It is good to spend much time on the hill. For David that involved going to the tabernacle for us it involves gathering in His house of worship, pausing a moment to pray, meditating either alone or with other children of God upon the Word of God. The hill of the Lord is any place and any time you stand consciously face to face with God. It is a foretaste of heaven.
And who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
Only those who are perfect, the holy ones.
David describes this perfection as, “He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” With this description the Psalmist touches upon all the aspects of human life. The heart of man must be pure. This means that the spiritual core of man must be perfectly conformed unto the will of God; it must beat in harmony with the love of God. What’s more, man’s soul must not be lifted up in vain, that is it must not be focused upon that which is empty and common; it is to be concentrated upon Jehovah alone with all its thoughts and desires. Still more, his hands must be clean and his tongue may not swear deceitfully. Taken together the hands and tongue represent our life as we stand in relationship with our neighbor, and that, too, before God. With our hands we work and with our tongue we speak to and about God and the neighbor. We must cease from sin and love God from the depth of our heart and show this in all the work of our mind, soul, and strength.
You ask, who then can ever ascend the hill of the Lord?
No mere man can ever do such a thing.
This psalm of David focuses our attention upon our Lord Jesus Christ. It seems quite apparent that David wrote this psalm in connection with the return of the ark to Jerusalem. The ark had been at the home of dbededom for three months and David perceived that the blessing of the Lord was upon his house. He took courage, and with the priests and Levites brought the ark to Jerusalem and placed it upon the hill of the Lord. Triumphantly he and the congregation followed the ark, singing, “Lift up your heads o ye gates, even lift them up, ye everlasting doors and the King of glory shall come in; who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.”
Typically — this portrayed the ascension of Christ into heaven. In its deepest sense the hill of the Lord is heaven, the place where God dwells in His entire splendor. Ascending that hill requires absolute perfection. This Christ did for us after He finished His work on the cross. David saw the significance typically; we can see it in reality.
Christ ascended the hill of the Lord. He did that as Mediator. As the natural Son of God He was begotten eternally of the Father and therefore abode on that hill. But, as Mediator He left that hill to descend into the lower parts of the earth. He had to lead captivity captive. Typically this was portrayed in that ark; the blood sprinkled upon the mercy seat once a year spoke the atonement. The gates of Jerusalem could well lift up their heads and welcome the King of glory, for Israel was typically holy in the blood of the Lamb. All Israel followed and David the king with them, shouting and dancing, for Christ was ascending the hill of the Lord and Israel with Him.
How much more glorious this becomes at the moment of reality. Jesus who had come into the world for the sake of His own, assumed their guilt and became sinful in their place. Because God who dwells in the hill is a holy God, He is a consuming fire against all iniquity. Yet, Almighty God knew that His own could never bear the burden of their guilt and throw it off and climb the hill of themselves. It was in love that He sent His Son to bear our guilt and the punishment due us for them. This Jesus did on the cross. The holy God of the hill poured upon Jesus the terrible punishment due to us for our sins. His raw wrath unleashed upon Him, forced from His lips the lonely cry, forsaken! Jesus did more than we could ever do. He bore this judgment in perfect love and paid the price of sin once for all. He merited perfection for all His own. The proof is in the open tomb; there God sealed the work of Jesus Christ and labeled it, perfect!
Since Christ and His people are inseparably united before God, so much that they are as one body, Christ the head and His church the members, the work of Christ is imputed to us. In Christ we are righteous and holy. In Christ we are made worthy to receive the blessings of Almighty God.
Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Jesus Christ has already ascended. Having finished His work of redemption He ascended before the eyes of His disciples and was taken from them by the cloud, by Jehovah the Lord of the hill.
We have therefore principally ascended the hill. We are inseparably united with Him. Before God we are pure and clean, counted worthy to ascend the hill and dwell with Him forevermore. How do we know this? After His ascension into heaven, God crowned Christ’s perfect work with the gift of the Holy Spirit, by Whom He sanctifies us and cleanses us from all our sins. By this Spirit we know the friendship of God and dwell with Him on the hill.
Our life is a constant struggle to climb higher and higher. It involves a daily denial of the flesh, a putting away of former things and seeking more and more the fellowship of the living God. Principally our whole life an expression of dwelling in the presence of the living God. No longer is there a secret room where God and His people meet; the veil of the temple was rent, the tabernacle of God is now with men. Our life must be so conducted that our heart, soul, hands’, and mouth express our consecration to God. Following our High Priest Jesus Christ we have the calling to live the consecrated life within the hill of the Lord.
This requires one thing, divine grace, sovereign and free.
There is one place wherein we lay hold of this grace, that is the house of worship where God meets His people in Jesus Christ. That is the greatest expression of God’s friendship with His people on this side of the grave.
Let us ascend the hill of the Lord, following our Lord Jesus Christ. May God give us grace to do this daily, till we shall ascend it in death and dwell in the New Jerusalem, in the city four-square.
Our life is hid with Christ in God.