Who Gets to Dwell on God’s Holy Hill? Thoughts on Psalm 15

There are certain Psalms that are just brilliant in their clarity and magnificence. Some of them are incredible songs of praise to the God of the universe. But others are more horizontal in nature, in that they give instructions to those who follow Yahweh. Psalm 15 is one such Psalm, and when I actually take the time to meditate on it, it provides a warm joy in relation to my Savior, but also a cold reality of my own fallenness.
David begins the psalm with a question, “O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?” This is deeply penetrating and important question. Under the new covenant, the Holy Spirit indwells all believers the presence of God is not focused in any one particular geographic location. However, in the Old Testament, the presence of God was usually focused in or represented by geographic locations (the tabernacle, the temple, etc). So, when David writes this verse, he is basically asking, “who gets to live in the presence of Yahweh? Who gets to enjoy the fellowship of the God of the universe?” He goes on to give a pretty extensive answer:

  1. The one who walks blamelessly and does what is right (2). It is important to note here that “right” and “blameless” are defined by God and His Word, not some subjective standard we may establish.
  2. The one who speaks truth and does not slander (2-3). Oh how important the tongue is! Notice that David qualifies speaking truth with “in his heart.” Even what’s going on inside matters!
  3. The one who does no evil to his neighbor (3). The hits keep coming here. Remember, God defines what qualifies as evil, not me. This requirement is in no way qualified by the character or nature of the neighbor. It is a carte blanche requirement.
  4. The one who hates sin but loves those who fear Yahweh (4). Verse four contains a troubling line, “in whose eyes a vile person is despised.” That’s tough. But it gets a little easier when you consider what the word “despised” actually means. It generally carries the force of little or no value, empty of significance.” So, this is one who does not see the wicked person as playing a hugely valuable role in his life, but rather he assigns honor and value to those who fear the LORD.
  5. The one who does not seek to rip off or defraud others (5). These last two mark financial transgressions- charging interest in personal loans to those in need or taking a bribe in order to convict the innocent.

David closes with a final summary, “He who does these things shall never be moved.” I love that. Live in this way and your status with God (from a fellowship perspective) is rock solid. Now comes the caveat that David never gets to, but we do on this side of the cross. None of us are capable of living this way. We don’t possess the internal capacity to do it. Enter the new birth and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. I am going to rest in this thought for the next few days: God sets an impossibly high standard. I can’t do it. But with His standard, He provides a means of keeping it and of receiving forgiveness when we fall short. What a beautiful picture. Here is what is required to fellowship with God. Now, here is how I am going to help you attain that fellowship. Our God reigns, and because of that, I will never be moved!