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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 24

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.

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.

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.
Who is this King of glory?
   The Lord of hosts,
   he is the King of glory. (NRSV)

Reflection
The second stanza of Psalm 24 presents us with an interesting and healthy opportunity.

According to scholars, Psalm 24 is a liturgical psalm, meaning that it was used as part of the liturgy in the Jerusalem temple, the center of Jewish worship from the time of Solomon until just after the time of Jesus. We can see that, right? It establishes, right off the bat, the sovereignty and majesty of God and then seems made for antiphonal (alternating between two sides) singing. There are questions, then answers: back and forth, praising God who dwells among the people and teaching about who and how those people are to be.

The opportunity we have involves the questions that begin the second stanza: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?” While worship is always open to all and we should join the people gathered no matter our state of mind or soul, those questions might be a helpful tool as we take our seats in a pew on Sunday morning or afternoon or whenever we come together for congregational prayer. Are my hands sinless, my heart clean? What have I desired over the past week? What have I “sworn” to my neighbors? In other words, what kind of person have I been since I last worshiped? Have my actions and speech reflected the creating, redeeming, and sanctifying love that I have come to praise, celebrate, and soak up? Perhaps an examination of conscience, such as Psalm 24 provides, would make our thanksgiving more heartfelt, our confession more authentic, our supplication more urgent. It’s worth a try. (I’m indebted to Irene Nowell’s Sing a New Song: The Psalms in the Sunday Lectionary for the idea of using Psalm 24 as a tool for self-reflection.)

Prayer
Lord of hosts and King of glory, we praise your strength and power. May our worship be genuine, and may we be worthy of our place among those who seek you. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Program Coordinator, Center for Life and Learning

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