Thursday, 4 June 2020
How does one enter into the presence of God, into His dwelling place? This psalm describes to us what it means for us to enter it. Throughout the whole of history, no man has ever entered into the presence of God, by the means of going towards Him. In fact, it has always been the other way round, where God comes and reveals Himself to us. So let us examine what is the content of this psalm.
The psalmist starts with the question “O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?” Throughout Old Testament history, God dwells among His people in the Tabernacle, also known as the Holy of Holies. Even the high priest that enters it will never be able to see God’s face, as it will be covered with smoke, lest the one who looks upon God would die. Coming to today’s psalm, what more is required of us in order to sojourn in God’s tent and dwell in God’s holy hill, where His presence is when seeing God’s face is already something seemingly impossible?
The psalmist then shows us the ideal person who is able to enter into God’s presence. This person ought to walk blamelessly and do what is right, as being truthful all the time (v2). He is not to gossip (if you are using the ESV, it says slander with his tongue). This is another way of saying not to bear false witness against their neighbors (9th commandment). Even the way the person ought to treat his neighbors must be pure, with no evil intentions (v3). The manner in which that person perceives evil matters as well, as he should be one which “in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD.” (v4a) Furthermore, this person is also the man of his/her own words; he does what he says in a truthful manner and takes God as his/her very own witness.
Finally, this person is one who deals with people generously and fairly, especially when it comes to money. After all, the love of money is the root of all evil. How one utilizes their money matters as well. They are not to use it with evil intentions such as bribing and using money for more gain! As the psalmist ends with his last sentence, only such a person who does all these things perfectly will not be moved. Such is the person that is able to claim God to be their refuge, as the place they meet the terms of the Covenant which God gave them.
Only such is the person who is able to enter God’s presence! It seems only a perfect person who does no evil can enter into God’s presence! You might ask wouldn’t that already disqualify you? So then what’s the point of this psalm? Beyond just telling us what is the expectation of a Christian, this psalm magnifies the perfect holiness of God. Only a person who is perfectly holy is able to enter God’s holy hill and dwell with Him in His holy presence. Such is the holiness of God, this is He whom we worship!
In light of this psalm, how then are we to respond? This is a call for us to place our faith and trust in Christ as we come to God in worship. We have no way of attaining this perfect holiness to dwell in God’s presence. Our holiness belongs to Christ. To attain it is to place our faith and trust in Christ and Christ alone, and acknowledge that He brings us into God’s presence on our behalf with all His perfect holiness. What a blessedness to know we can go into God’s presence in worship through Christ! This is also a call for us to live our lives according to His laws because we are God’s holy people. May we come and examine our lives before our holy God.
As you pray, ask God to continue to help you place your faith and trust in Christ, knowing that it is Him who brings you into God’s presence, and not our own sinful and self-righteous actions. Do ask God to help you acknowledge His perfect holiness as well, as that is who God is, the holy God, which cannot tolerate any small bit of evil. Lastly, ask God to reveal certain evil in your hearts as well, and ask His Spirit to work in you. You pray best when you reflect about your life in light of who God is and what He has said in His Word. Do take this time to reflect and pray on your own or even with your family members.
Hon Sir Neng