Take a look at Psalms 73. It opens with a verse about the pure in heart.
You might immediately hear that voice in your head saying, “Well, I would not fit in that category.” Or perhaps you’re remembering some of your definitely un-Christlike moments this weekend. Maybe already this morning you’ve blown it, yet again.
If so, you’ll identify more with verse 2:
But as for me, I almost lost my footing.
My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
The writer of Psalm 73 knows his heart is not pure. He’s bitter and envious; the bad guys are not getting the punishment they deserve. They seem to be living trouble-free lives and have everything anyone could ever want, while I seem to have nothing but pain and trouble. Where’s the justice, God?
So he takes his questions and complaints to God. Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
Psalm 73 is about a cleansing of heart, and here’s the key: Then I went into your sanctuary.
In the psalmist’s time, all kinds of regulations determined how and when one could approach God. When Christ died, He ripped all barriers away. Not only did He give us access to God, but now God comes and lives with us. The sanctuary where we meet God, where He opens our eyes and transforms our hearts, is no longer a literal building. It’s where you are sitting right now. Immanuel!
But back to this sad soul who knows his heart is not right and that he’s not doing so well in his walk with God.
In His sanctuary, God does have some answers to the writer’s questions about the wicked. But we’ll leave that for now. Something even more important happens: in God’s sanctuary, the psalmist sees his own heart:
Then I realized my heart was bitter,
and I was all torn up inside.
I was so foolish and ignorant —
Sound familiar? How many times I have said that about myself! How many times I have denied myself inclusion in the “pure in heart” category. How many times my feet have slipped.
And that brings us to the good news. Yes. Good news in spite of what we may think about our failures. Good news, my friend, that you will hear in the sanctuary when you go to your Father.
Yet still I belong to you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious destiny.
Wow. I belong to Him. He knows I am dust, and still He claims me. This is a look at God’s heart.
And because I belong to Him, He continues to hold me by the hand, guide me with His counsel, and — doesn’t this just take your breath away? — lead me on toward a glorious destiny!
When we hear those words in the sanctuary, when those words picturing God’s love for us settle into our hearts, we are transformed. We go from feeling as though we are almost gone (v. 2) to knowing this:
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.
The psalmist opened by saying, “But as for me … I’m slipping and almost gone.” Now, after that transforming meeting with God in His sanctuary, he says, “Yes, I see that anyone who deserts God will be destroyed, will perish …
But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
What comfort it is to be near God, to take shelter in Him, to know that we belong to the Father and He does not desert us. We come into His sanctuary, and we are changed.