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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

For those who don't have clean hands and a pure heart (Spurgeon on Psalm 24)

Every time I read Psalm 24 (and similar passages), I experience an existential crisis.

“Who can ascend to the hill of the Lord," it says, "and who can enter into his holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart.”

I don't know about you, but I don't think of myself as someone who has clean hands and a pure heart. In fact, when I read those words like I did the other day (on the 24th of the month), I can't help but think about all my sins of action and attitude, and wonder if there is any way someone like me could enjoy loving fellowship with God, either now or in eternity.

But then I read this great quote from Spurgeon’s commentary on that Psalm, from his Treasury of David:

Dear reader, it is possible that you are saying, “I shall never enter into the heaven of God, for I have neither clean hands nor a pure heart.” Look then to Christ, who has already climbed the holy hill. He has entered as the forerunner of those who trust him. Follow in his footsteps, and repose upon his merit. He rides triumphantly into heaven, and you shall ride there too if you trust him. “But how can I get the character described?” say you. The Spirit of God will give you that. He will create in you a new heart and a right spirit. Faith in Jesus is the work of the Holy Spirit, and has all virtues wrapped up in it. Faith stands by the fountain filled with blood, and as she washes therein, clean hands and a pure heart, a holy soul and a truthful tongue are given to her.

And later I was reading in another Spurgeon book I have, which is a collection of his prayers, and I noticed how well this part of his prayer fit with the Psalm above.  Hopefully you can say these words to God as you read them like I did, and be blessed by it like I was…

O LORD, many of us feel like the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple. Come by this way and make the lame ones perfectly sound. O Lord, Thou canst do by Thy servants today what Thou didst by them in the olden time. Work miracles of mercy even upon outer court worshippers who are too lame to get into the holy place. 

But there are many who feel like that man when he was restored. We would follow our Restorer, the Prince of Life, into the temple, leaping and walking and praising God. He has gone into the temple in the highest sense, up to the throne of God. He climbs, and we would follow, up the steps of the temple one by one, made meet. We would come nearer and nearer to the throne of God. O Lord, Thou hast done such great things for us that we feel the drawings of Thy love. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying: Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” 

Draw us nearer, Lord, draw us into the inner Sanctuary; draw us within the place which once was hidden by the veil which Christ has rent; bring us right up to the throne of grace, and there beholding the glory of God above the Mercy Seat may we have communion with the Most High. Heal all our diseases and forgive us all our trespasses. 

Still, Lord, though healed of a former lameness so that now we have strength, we need a further touch from Thee; we are so apt to get dull and stupid; come and help us. Lord Jesus. A vision of Thy face will brighten us; but to feel Thy Spirit touching us will make us vigorous. Oh! For the leaping and the walking of the man born lame. May we today dance with holy joy like David before the Ark of God. May a holy exhilaration take possession of every part of us; may we be glad in the Lord; may our mouth be filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing, “for the Lord hath done great things for us whereof we are glad.” 

Today help Thy people to put on Christ. May we live as those who are alive from the dead, for He is the quickening Spirit; and may we feel Him to be so. Is any part of us still dead? Lord quicken it. May the life which has taken possession of our heart take possession of our head; may the brain be active in holy thought; may our entire being, indeed, respond to the life of Christ, and may we live in newness of life.

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