After the ark was returned to the Israelites, they rejoiced, and offered burnt offerings and sacrifices to the Lord. But in the midst of rejoicing was sorrow, as the Lord killed 70 people for looking into the ark, treating as common, something that was holy. And the people cried out,
Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God? (6:20)
The truth was that none could stand before God, because they were still doing what was right in their own eyes. And so Samuel spoke to them and said,
If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. (7:3)
In other words, Samuel said, “Are you finally serious about serving the Lord? Then you need to stop living your own way. You need to stop following these false gods and commit yourself to the one true God.”
And so the people repented, and only from that point did they start finding victory over the Philistines who had oppressed them for years.
3 Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false.
5 He will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God his Savior.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, O God of Jacob. (Psalm 24:3-6)
That’s what the people of Israel learned. It’s not enough to serve God with your lips. To offer sacrifices. To do religious things. But if we are to stand before God, we need a total change in heart. A heart that is pure and offers itself to God alone. And we need hands that do what is right. We can’t separate our spiritual life from our physical life. One affects the other. But when we have clean hands and clean hearts, that’s when we’ll find blessing from God in our lives.
How about you? Do you have a pure heart, committed fully to God? Do you have hands that are clean from sin? The truth is, all of us struggle with it. None of us are pure. None of us are clean. In Romans 3:10, it says
There is no one righteous, not even one.
And that’s why Jesus came. He died on a cross, and took the punishment for all of our sins. It is by his blood that we are made pure and clean before God. And it is by his blood alone that we can stand before God with confidence.
But we need to get serious about our relationship with God, repent of our sins, and make Jesus Lord of our lives. Then, and only then, can we possibly stand before God someday.