The Hill of Righteousness

When I was young, I used to love to play “King of the Hill.” If my older brother and I found any large pile of dirt or gravel, it was like an instant call to battle.

We just had to see who could get to the top of that hill and stay at the top. Being the younger brother, I’m sure you can imagine who ended up at the bottom of the hill most of the time. Sometimes we played King of the Hill with my brother’s buddies but even then I was the smallest one in the group. If I ever did make it to the top, my victory only lasted for about two seconds.

But then I discovered a smarter way to play. I learned that if I teamed up with my big brother, I had a much greater chance of success. Because he was bigger and stronger, he would go ahead of me and make a way for me to ascend the hill. Then at the top, with our backs to each other, we could defend the hill from all sides. It was very hard for anyone to take us down.

This year’s Bonus Verse is Psalm 24:3-4 and it talks about ascending a hill. But it’s not just any hill. It’s the hill of the Lord; a special place the Bible talks about. It’s a place God made for us, a place where we can be close to him. The Bonus Verse asks an important question – “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord, and who shall stand in his holy place?” The answer – “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.” So if we want to enter into God’s presence, and be close to him, we need clean hands and a pure heart, right?

Hill of Righteousness blog picBut there’s a problem. How clean must our hands be, and how pure must our heart be to stand before a holy God? Can they be 50% clean or 75% clean? How about 90%? Is any of us clean enough or pure enough in our actions and our thoughts to meet Gods’ perfect standard of holiness? No. God’s standard of holiness is absolute. He cannot tolerate any sin, uncleanness or impurity. So how can any of us ever hope to ascend the hill of the Lord or stand in his holy place, and why should that be important to us?

Well, there’s an answer to this question. It lies in the last half of this Psalm. How can sinful people stand before a holy God? This is actually the most important question you will ever answer. How can sinful people like you and me stand before a holy God? I’ll give you a hint. When King David wrote this Psalm, he spoke not just as a poet and a musician, but also as a prophet. He spoke about someone who was coming, someone bigger and stronger who would make a way for us. Do you know who that was?

Our wristband this year is silver with glow-in-the-dark letters. Like all of the Bonus Verse wristbands, our students will discover that it has a secret message inside. But this message is very special because everything God wants for us, all of the greatest blessings in life, are tied to this message.

Whenever my brother and I were “King of the Hill,” I discovered something important. Getting to the top of the hill is one thing, but staying at the top is something else, because there’s always someone trying to knock you down. On my own it was impossible. But with someone big enough and strong enough I found that I could not only ascend the hill, but I could stay there, victorious. As long as I knew and trusted the right person, someone bigger and stronger, I could stay in that special place. I look forward to all that God will teach us through these verses this year.

Psalm 24:3-4

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.”

This post was shared by Stephen E. Danish, our Head of School at the Opening Day Assembly on September 2, 2015.