Apart from Jesus Himself, King David was a man who understood authority perhaps as well as any man ever has. He ruled the nation of Israel during its ascent to the pinnacle of power among earthly kingdoms, and he gave much energy to contemplating authority and what is required of those who will exercise it. In Psalm 24 David gives us insight into the authority structure of heaven, and the requisites for receiving that heavenly authority here on the earth. Consider these words:
The earth is the LORD’S, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive blessing from the LORD,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
(Psalm 24:1-5, NKJV)
David’s first acknowledgement here is that all the fullness of the earth belongs to the Lord God. He is the supreme authority by right of creation and redemption, and all who dwell on the earth belong to Him. But then the Psalm gets focused on who will be qualified to share in the Lord’s authority. “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord, or who may stand in His holy place?” In other words, who is the one who can stand before the Lord in confidence to share in His authority?
The answer is concise and pointed: “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.” David takes the issue of qualification right past the question of behavior to the deeper matter – the condition of the heart. The one who may confidently stand in God’s presence is the one with a pure heart, who has no falseness or deceit in the foundations of their personality. Because the heart of God is absolutely pure, with no hint of improper motives or deceitful agendas, He is able to exercise His authority in such a way that brings maximum grace and fulfillment to all who come to Him. He doesn’t use people for His own glory at their expense. Rather, He shares His identity and authority with them that they may be exalted and glorified, thereby bringing even greater honor to Himself.
Therefore, those who will share His authority must be those who are conformed to His character. They will be the same on the inside as they are on the outside, those who know that God desires us to have “truth in the inward parts.” But the greater reward that comes to those with pure hearts is that they will see God. As we grow in conformity to His character, there is a greater and greater revelation that comes to us. God allows us to see Himself. We can hardly imagine the depth of this reward. King David, in the context of his own magnificent earthly kingdom, said that his greatest desire was to be in the House of the Lord, gazing upon the beauty of God, and inquiring in His temple. David knew that God’s self-revelation was the ultimate prize, worthy of the total focus of his own heart.