Getting Your Heart Ready For Worship
The 24th Psalm is a hymn or a song that would have been sung either going to the temple, as they entered the temple, or as they were leaving a worship service, and it directs the hearts of his people to worship God in a manner that recognizes his glory. It celebrates God coming into the holy city and God’s people were going to see Him.
If we truly believed that God were to enter this room and His presence were to fill this room – would we have come to the worship service any differently? So to prepare God’s people’s hearts – they would have sung this hymn to prepare themselves. This is the heart of worship – a humble recognition of the sovereignty of our triune God and responding appropriately by presenting our praise, devotion, and lives to Him. True worship is an all-consuming desire to give God all that we are to all that He is.
Psalm 24 is a picture of worshippers arriving at a church at the same time. They are walking together into worship. But before they enter into the temple itself, “would -be celebrators ask who may join (v.3). A liturgist replies: those who have aligned themselves toward this ordering God are those whose actions and motives are pure and who do not ally themselves to falsehood (v.4). A promise is given: these pilgrims will receive Yahweh’s righteousness (vv. 5-6). Only then does the procession through the temple gates begin, . . .”
As we enter into Bellevue Baptist Church and find our seat, and settle in for a time of worship what enters our minds? Are we focused on what we’re doing after church; are we focused on the conversation we had with our spouse on the way to church; are we focused on how angry we are about our kids getting their clothes dirty before church? What are we focused on right now? Are you ready to meet with God?
Prayer – Lord you are sovereign and all that exists is under your dominion. Everything and everyone on the earth is under your sovereign control. This morning we come before you to worship you, and you have said, “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart” Lord you have given us pure hearts and clean hands through our Savoir Jesus Christ. But there are so many times when we go back to the world, and we allow ourselves to be led away from you. Draw us close to You, through your word and Holy Spirit. We seek your face this morning and we desire to know how to apply your Word to our hearts. Amen.
A Recognition of God’s Power (vv. 1-2)
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.”
The psalm (and the preparation of our hearts) begins with a recognition that the earth and everything in it is this Lord’s. This includes people, all people are under the Lord’s dominion. It doesn’t matter if someone believes in Him, or is not being obedient to Him, God is still God and reigns over the earth.
God has this authority because he made it. So we begin to learn about worship by looking at what is the difference between the Creator and the created. God is not “one of us” He is above and beyond the creation. He is powerful enough to create and establish creation from nothing, man can only manipulate the world around him.
Also, it is God who not only created the world, but He also sustains it. The earth and everything in it are dependent upon God for its continued existence. Hebrews 1:3 “He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” We need God, he is not optional in our lives.
Psalm 104:27-30 “These all look to you, to give them their food in due season. 28 When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. 29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. 30 When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.”
He is not a deistic god who stays far away, but the Lord comes to His creation, therefore, His creation must prepare for his coming. He came to Adam and Eve in the garden, He came to Abraham and Sara, He came to Moses on the mountain, He came to earth born of a virgin and lived among us for over 30 years – The God we worship loves His creation and loves to spend time with it.
John the Baptist’s ministry was to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry to begin. He did this by preaching messages of repentance or turning from sin, and encouraging people to seek the Lord. Matthew 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”
Entering into worship of God means that we must prepare our hearts for the person that we will meet there. God who created us, sustains us by the power of his word, and all of creation all around us – This God is here, and we can go and meet with Him – or can we?
A Revelation of God’s Purity (vv. 3-6)
“3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 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. 5 He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah”
Among all the earth inhabitants, who is acceptable and able to come before this sovereign king? Or how must a person prepare themselves when approaching such an awesome being?
“The hill of the Lord” is a reference to Mt. Zion or Jerusalem, where God dwelled above the ark of the covenant. If we ask the question a different way it would be, “who may stand in this holy place?” the holy place references Jerusalem that sat atop of Mt. Zion, “his holy place.” Who is spiritually qualified to fellowship with this awesome king?
The answer is the person who has clean hands and a pure heart. Clean hands speaks of a person’s purity in their outward actions. A pure heart speaks of a persons inner soul that is holy and undefiled, set apart to God without moral defilement.
A person’s life must be pure and clean if God is to be approached in worship and fellowship. Specifically, this requires that a person not lift his soul to an idol. He must have no other gods before his love for and loyalty to the one true God (Ex. 20:3). An idol is anyone or anything that a person loves, fears, or serves more than God. When the psalmist speaks of “not swearing deceitfully” he is speaking of not placing higher allegiance to anything or anyone before God.
Another way to define this idea of idolatry is “not lifting ourselves to emptiness.” This is talking about the inner soul or thing that makes you alive, the deepest part of who you are – don’t offer that to “emptiness.” God created you, and sustains you – this life that is within you should not be given to anyone or anything other than God. Worshipping anything else is giving our lives to things and people that will leave us “empty.”
The requirement to enter into God’s presence is an outward and inward perfection. The worshipper who enters into the presence of the Lord must have and understand their need for grace and mercy. “The psalm is clear that the person so described in v. 4 is in need of a Savior and in need of righteousness.”
The blessing that the repentant worshipper receives is righteousness and forgiveness. Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
When we turn from our sins and seek the Lord with all our heart – He will meet with us and we can enter into His presence because of Christ.
A Realization of God’s Presence (vv. 7-10)
“7 Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them 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!”
The gates are commanded to open their doors wide, and be ready to receive the King of glory. In David’s time this referred to the carrying of the ark into Jerusalem. This was a call for the ark to be brought into the sanctuary in triumphant procession.
During the first coming of Christ, who was the greater Son of David, had a triumphant entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Matt. 21:1-11). Ultimately, it refers to the ascension of Christ to the heavenly Zion to be enthroned at God’s right hand.
From within the city is asked the question “Who is this King of glory?” It is those who are carrying the ark, those within the city itself and those who have given the king of glory their hearts who yell out, “The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!”
This is the one who can enter into the presence of God – the one who can enter the city, whose gates fly open at his presence, but remain closed for everyone else, it is the Lord Jesus Christ who can enter in. It is this Lord who has shown himself strong and mighty in defeating all His people’s enemies.
How has Jesus shown himself strong and mighty in battle? 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
When we see the psalmist say in verse 5, “He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” Salvation means deliverance, rescue, victory, help, or liberty. Mankind was entangled and held captive by sin and death, but Jesus acting as our Savior brought us salvation and set us free from sin and death. He is the only one who is mighty enough to save us, and therefore none other deserves our worship and devotion.
Because we are freed of sin and death, when we stand before God “our hands are clean, and our hearts are pure” – God sees the blood of Christ shed for the world, and we may enter into the temple and stand before the Lord.
The gates are told to “Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up” – they are told to lift up their heads, not bow down before the Lord – when we enter into worship with God, yes we bow before Him in reverence of who he is – but God is telling us to be joyful and anticipate hope – lift your head up and sing His praises because we have something to be joyful about.
Psalm 3:3 “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.”
When our hearts are right before the Lord, and when we understand who it is that we stand before and bow down to worship – we respond to God with reverence, humility, praise, and devotion.
A person’s life will never rise above their view of God. If we see Him high and lifted up and think highly of Him, then our lives will be marked by holiness and seeking to do great things for a mighty God. But if our view of God is low, then we will live a low life, and seek our own self interests.
Is Jesus your Savior this morning and are you seeking Him with your whole heart? ABC
 Craig C. Broyles, New International Biblical Commentary, Psalms (Hendrickson Publishing, 2005) 127.
 Broyles 130. The doctrine of imputed righteousness is found throughout the Bible.