Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
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.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
— Psalm 24:3-6
On this day 40 years ago, my dad passed away. He would have been 89 this year. When he died, he was 49 years old. It was a horrible experience for me at age 16 but it was not without hope. You see my father knew Jesus Christ as his Savior and I believe he’s in heaven at this moment. What is interesting as far as I know in my heritage, is that he is the third generation Christian. His grandfather was the first Christian in his family that lived in Scotland. My grandmother and then my father passed along the faith. I am now the fourth generation and my children are the fifth generation.
David states in this psalm “such is the generation of those who seek him who seek the face of the God of Jacob.” In the reading today we will see who can pass the faith to the next generation.
Just a little background on this psalm for perspective. The occasion that inspired the composition of this psalm is unknown. However, in view of its content, many interpreters believe David may have written it when he brought the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6). Perhaps he wrote it when he returned from some victory in battle.
The psalmist then wondered who could go into the sanctuary of such a great God on Mt. Zion (cf. 23:6). Who could have the courage to do so? It states right in the verse that it is a person of clean hands (right actions) and a pure heart (right attitudes). Those are the characteristics necessary if one hopes to attain admission to His presence. Idolatry and bearing false witness, perhaps representing all sins God-ward and man-ward, disqualify any potential worshipper.
David had these characteristics of clean hands and a pure heart. The Bible calls him a man after God's own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), even though he wasn’t perfect, even though he committed great sins. But his family’s generations that followed didn’t have the right actions and attitude. He had a whole heart for God, he confessed his sin and had a passion to build a temple for Yahweh. His son Solomon (1Kings 2:2-4) some would say had a “half a heart for God”. He compromised his beliefs, he wanted to build a palace for himself. His son Rehoboam, the third generation, had “no heart” for God (1Kings 12:1-24) he wanted to build an empire.
If you find yourself with the characteristics of David of having a whole heart for God, then recommit your life for God during this time. If you find your heart more like Solomon’s, then reevaluate your life and come back to Him. If your heart is like Rehoboam, then you need to repent of your sins and turn to God.
What generation do you find yourself in today? If you choose to do nothing what are your children most likely to do?
Maybe some of you who are reading this devotional say, “I don’t have that godly heritage.” Then start one today. My wife and my mom were the first generation Christian in their families. Trust Christ to save you from your sins (John 3:16) and start a new family beginning. The legacy you leave is more important than the heritage you receive.
Pray Psalm 78:1-8 with your family in mind.
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.
Dr. Cameron Garven
Ministry Fellow at Princeton University
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