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Psalm 15 - Dwelling With God Print E-mail
Sunday, 23 October 2011

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Godís people long to dwell with Him. They want to be in His presence. They want to know that He is near. We have gathered this morning believing the promise that God will meet with us. We sing and pray and give and listen to His Word believing that His presence will fill this place. But how can we know that God would actually allow us into His presence? How can we be sure of that?

This is the question that frames Psalm 15.  Look at verse 1.  When David wrote this psalm, the Lordís presence was especially known in His tent, on His holy hill.  These are references to the Tabernacle (and later the Temple) where Godís presence was especially with His people.  So then David is asking the question: ĎWho can be in your presence God?  Who can worship you and know you?  Some believe that such a psalm might be read or recited by those who were entering the Temple.  Some see a more general use of the psalm.  Either way, the question that David is asking is still important for us.  Who can come into Godís presence?  Granted, we no longer worship God in the Temple, but we still want to know who can worship God and be in His presence.  Just a few psalms earlier in Psalm 5 we are told: For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.  The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers (v. 4-5).  Well, that makes it clear who cannot dwell with the Lord, namely the wicked.  Building upon that idea, David gives a more particular answer in Psalm 15.  His answer includes several statements.  Letís consider these this morning.

A person who does what is right (v. 2a)

David begins with a general statement that contrasts what we saw in Psalm 5.  Look at verse 2a with me.  We are told in Psalm 5 that the wicked cannot dwell with God.  In agreement with that psalm, David tells us here that only the one who walks blamelessly and does what is right can dwell with God.  This description also contrasts those described in Psalm 14.  David describes those without God as being corrupt and doing abominable deeds.  As we saw last week, those who live such corrupt lives are without God.  Yet, those who walk blamelessly can dwell with God.  They can come into His presence and worship Him.  A righteous person is welcome in the presence of God.  This is the general description of the person who can come into Godís presence.  Going on, David gets more specific.

A person who speaks the truth (v. 2b-3a)

How does a righteous person, one who walks blamelessly, use his speech?  David tells us in verses 2b-3a.  Look at those with me.  Remember how David described the fool in Psalm 14?  He said: The fool says in his heart, ďThere is no GodĒ (v. 1).  What a person says in his heart is what really matters to them.  You can claim to believe in God all day but if you do not obey then you make it clear that you deny Him in your heart.  In the same way, the righteous person will speak truth in his heart.  What he claims to believe and how he lives will not contradict.  This internal/external component is made explicit by what David says next in Psalm 15: who does not slander with his tongue.  The person that speaks truth in his heart (internal) will evidence that by not slandering others (external).  Slander involves saying things about people that are not true in order to hurt the other person and their reputation.  David makes it plain that such actions will not characterize the righteous.  The one who can come into Godís presence will speak the truth in his heart and with his tongue.

A person who is not hateful toward others (v. 3b)

Not only will the righteous person not speak lies about another person, they will do them no evil.  Look at verse 3b.  The man who walks blamelessly will not mistreat his neighbor.  He will not join in with others in reproaching, or speaking evil, against a friend.  Slander always involves two people: those who speak and those who listen, or the one who takes up the reproach.  The righteous man avoids both.  He is committed to not doing evil to his neighbor.  Notice the connection between our relationship with God and our relationship with others.  Mistreating others and doing evil to our neighbors reveals that there is a problem with our relationship with God.  It is not only offensive to them but also to God.  And make no mistake, we donít get any passes for people that we believe are just Ďhard to get along with.í  Granted we must be committed to justice (see below), but we must always avoid doing evil to others.  We must remember the impact that such action has on our relationship with God.  Only the person who is not characterized by hatefulness towards others is allowed in Godís presence.

A person who is just with the wicked/righteous (v. 4a)

Does Davidís instructions about not being evil towards others mean that we should never recognize evil in others?  No, we must see sin for what it is and respond appropriately.  Look at what David says in verse 4a.  David describes the blameless man as not doing evil to his neighbor, being kind to them in all they do.  But this does not mean that the righteous man will turn a blind eye to evildoers.  In other words, the righteous will not stand by idly while the wicked trample over the needy.  He will not say: ĎWell Iím just trying to be kind.í  No, the righteous man will despise wickedness.  They will not look upon the evil man with jealousy or fear.  They will not try to please them or serve them.  No, the righteous man honors those who fear the Lord. 

As we saw last week, world continually mocks Godís people and persecutes them.  But the blameless man will honor Godís people.  He will not join in with the world in mocking those who fear the Lord, but will despise such action and strive to stop it.  All of this involves great discernment.  It is not always easy to distinguish between the vile person and those who fear the Lord.  We need Godís grace to make such distinctions.  Likewise, we must realize that honoring those who fear the Lord will often mean being mistreated with them.  We may be tempted to follow the vile person to avoid being the object of his evil acts.  Yet, we must learn to be just with both the righteous and the wicked.  As the New Testament writers make clear, we must love Godís people if we are going to truly love God.  If we claim to love God and do not love, or honor, His people then John tells us that we are liars (see 1 John 4:20-21).  In order to love God and dwell in His presence we must be faithful in loving those who fear Him.  The blameless man will honor Godís people and not the vile man.

A person who shows integrity even when it is hard (v. 4b)

The next characteristic of a righteous man is easy for us to overlook.  But look at verse 4b.  A blameless man, one who can dwell with the Lord, will maintain his integrity even when it leads to suffering or hurt.  He will not be someone who is constantly changing about his convictions.  Granted, we can be wrong in our convictions and change and we can make a pledge or promise that we need to repent of at a later time.  But our lives should not be characterized by constant flux in our principles and beliefs.  And when we tell someone that we are going to do something, then we need to keep our word, even if it means that we have to give something else up.  This is not easy.  It is hard to always keep our word.  But the blameless man will do all that he can to do just that.  He will keep his integrity even when it hurts him.  The man who dwells with the Lord will keep his integrity, even when it is hard.

A person who is faithful with finances (v. 5a)

David closes his description of the person who can dwell with God by describing two financial situations.  Look at verse 5a.  The first involves loaning money at interest.  Although charging interest is not completely forbidden in the Bible, it is never to be done in a greedy malicious way.  The rich are not to take advantage of the poor.  The one with money is not to take advantage of the one without.  More is involved here than just money.  How we use our money, especially in relations to others, says much about us.  It can reveal if we are giving or greedy.  The blameless man will not be greedy.  The second situation involves taking a bribe to lie about someone.  Again the issue here is greed.  Do we love money (or some other reward) more than the truth?  Are we willing to lie about others to get ahead?  The man who dwells with the Lord will not do these.  Rather, he will be faithful with his finances, particularly in relation to the poor and needy.

David tells us that a person may dwell with the Lord, may enter into His presence, if they are blameless.  They must speak the truth and not lie about others.  The must love others and not mistreat their neighbors or friends.  They must be just with the wicked and the righteous.  They must have integrity, even with their finances.  So then, are you a person who can dwell in the Lordís presence?  Before you answer, I must remind you of what David taught us last week, namely that we are all sinners and none of us do good, not even one (see Psalm 14).  So then, how can we dwell in the presence of the Lord?  What hope do we have?

The glorious good news is that God has done for us what we could never do for ourselves.  He has sent us Jesus who lived a perfect life and died on the cross for our sins.  The Father raised Him from the dead so that we could be certain that His sacrifice was enough for our sin.  When we turn from our sins and trust in Him we can be saved.  Our sins are paid for by His death and His righteousness in credited to our account.  Thus, if you are here and you have never trusted in Christ for salvation, then I beg you to repent and believe in Him.  He is the only way that you can dwell in the presence of God. 

Not only did Christ die for our sins, but His death has actually freed us from our bondage to sin.  He has given Christians the Holy Spirit so that we can actually live righteous lives.  We can live blameless lives as described by David in Psalm 15 as believers in Christ.  And let me be clear, if we are not living such lives, then we have no place in the presence of God.  David makes this clear in Psalm 15 and so does John in 1 John.  If we claim to know God and walk in sin, then we are liars (1 John 2:4).  Thus, as we close this morning, may we examine ourselves and be sure that we are numbered among those who shall dwell with God.  For, as David concludes: He who does these things shall never be moved (v. 5b).  May that be true us as believers in Jesus Christ our Savior.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Thursday, 03 November 2011 )

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