Sonnet for Psalm 24

"Who shall go up on the mount of the Lord,
And who shall stand up in his holy place?"
Only one with clean hands and a pure heart,
Who cares for nothing but seeking your face.
I dare not but ask, who will go for us?
I know not one worthy, not me, not you.
“Here I am, send me,” says He who is love,
"I will go for you, and make all things new.
I will come down to climb Golgotha’s hill -
To die in your place, to cleanse, make pure, 
To draw all to me, my promise fulfilled;
To open the gate, and swing wide the door."
So, lift up your heads, to heaven above - 
For worthy the Lamb, who brings perfect love!

Clean hands and a pure heart are what is needed to ascend the hill of the Lord, but whose hands are truly clean? Whose heart truly pure? As I pondered this psalm I became more and more thankful for the one who alone can ascend this hill for us. But the hill that he ascends for us is also the hill where he was crucified for us, to forgive us and make our hearts pure again. Here is Psalm 24, on which this sonnet is based, followed by two other scripture passages I had in mind when I wrote the sonnet, along with this sonnet again, followed by a closing prayer:

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.

Scripture Readings

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” – Isaiah 6:6

They took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him. – John 19:16-18

Sonnet for Psalm 24

"Who shall go up on the mount of the Lord,
And who shall stand up in his holy place?"
Only one with clean hands and a pure heart,
Who cares for nothing but seeking your face.
I dare not but ask, who will go for us?
I know not one worthy, not me, not you.
“Here I am, send me,” says He who is love,
"I will go for you, and make all things new.
I will come down to climb Golgotha’s hill -
To die in your place, to cleanse, make pure, 
To draw all to me, my promise fulfilled;
To open the gate, and swing wide the door."
So, lift up your heads, to heaven above - 
For worthy the Lamb, who brings perfect love!

Closing Prayer

O Lord, how grateful I am that you descended to us so that we can ascend to you. You went to the cross to make pure our hearts, to open heaven to us, and to show us the depth of your love. Help me, Lord, to live my life in response to this amazing gift, by sharing your love, by lifting my soul only to what is true, and by daily remembering your great mercy. In your holy name I pray. Amen

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