Who may dwell with God?/Psalm 15
The psalm poses the question of “who may dwell with God?” It doesn’t simply look into the future as to who will dwell with God in the end, but directs us to what it means to dwell with him now; to walk in faith and fellowship with the living God. It answers the question of what makes up a true profession of faith.
Verse one asks, “Who shall dwell on your holy hill?” God’s holy hill is often called Mt. Zion, the place where his redeemed people come to worship him. It signifies entering into the presence of God. Therefore, the first answer to the question of “who shall dwell with God?” is no sinner. Jesus alone kept the law of God perfectly and merited entrance into the holy presence of God, and he entered into the holy place when he ascended into heaven. Only those in Christ may dwell with God.
The work of Christ makes us acceptable to God. He qualifies us for entrance by atoning for our sins and uniting us to himself. God looks on those in Christ as having righteousness as complete as the Lord Jesus has. God sees no cracks or blemishes in them. This is good news to one who knows how sinful he is. The way to God is through faith in Christ, and the psalmist depicts faith in action.
One who has faith, who has been delivered from his sin, seeks to dwell with God above all else in this world. Knowledge of salvation creates a hunger for God. David in psalm 27, says; “The Lord is my light and salvation.” Later in the psalm he writes, “One thing I have asked of the Lord, that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” Thanksgiving for salvation will beget the worship of God.
You see in David a desire, a hunger to draw nearer to the living God, in view of the Lord’s mercy to him. If you have tasted that the Lord is good, you should desire to grow in the knowledge of the Lord and to worship him. We must stir our desire to dwell with God, to learn of and enjoy fellowship with God. It is for this reason that Christ laid down his life; that we may dwell with God.
Another sign of faith is one who is wholehearted. In verse two we read, “He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart.” Blamelessly means one who has an undivided heart. God told Abraham to walk in his presence and be wholehearted.
Devotion in the Christian life is required. The Lord warned, “You can’t serve two masters.” If Christ is your Lord, then you must follow him. The apostle Paul tells Christians to say “no to ungodliness and worldly passions, and live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age (Titus 2).” The heart is where affections are, and the Christian is to love God.
A believer is also one who pursues holiness. In verses 3-5, we see the ethical and moral effects walking with God have on a believer. It is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but samples of a moral life. No immoral, idolatrous man will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Verse 3 addresses the tongue. Words are not empty things, they have consequences. We are not to slander people. The source of such language is vanity. Men slandered Christ. They also mocked him and shouted for his death; though he was the best friend we can have. That is the way sin in us speaks. We can speak our way out of heaven.
In verse 4 we see holiness includes discernment. There is a road that leads to death and a road that leads to life. Those who reject Christ have no part in the inheritance of God’s people. Christians are to reach out to unbelievers but no longer partake of their iniquity or unbelief. Rather, they are to honor those who fear the Lord.
We also see the integrity of faith in verse 4. Those who embrace Christ keep their vow to him, and to men, even if it costs them. Jesus told us to count the cost of following him, and to put our hand to the plow and not look back. Verse 5 warns about cheating someone over money, which is a sign of idolatry. The one who has faith must learn self-denial in serving God.
Attached to all these directives is the promise that God will acknowledge the righteous path of the faithful. The psalm concludes with, “He who does these things will never be moved.” When you commit yourself, body and soul, to the Lord, it is not in vain.
The Rev. Chris Shelton is the pastor of The First Presbyterian Church of Union.