A Psalm of David. LORD, who shall abide in your tabernacle? who shall dwell in your holy hill? (Psalms 15:1)
The introductory words of Psalms 15 tells about the author, David. However, the place and circumstances in which it is written is not stated. It is suggested with regards to it’s content that the Psalms was composed when the Ark of God was carried from the house of Obed-edom to the tent David built for it in Zion. It thus appeared to be written after a consideration of the incidents that took place in the first attempt to move the Ark to the City of David. Now that David seems to have gotten the process right, he decided to pen down the features stated from verse 2 to verse 5.
Two major question of huge relevance to us is raised in the first verse.
1. LORD, who shall abide in thy Tabernacle?
It’s important to note here that the Tabernacle was a tent. A temporary tent housing the Ark of God. Because it is temporary, it is complemented with the word “abide” which has its source from the Hebrew “gûr” meaning to sojourn or inhabit or stay in a place temporarily. The Israelites are familiar with staying in tents of such temporary nature. This can be compared with our sojourning here on Earth. Our human body is more like a temporary tent. However we should consider God’s dwelling in the body of believers (the church) here on Earth. This church is not the building but the congregation of true believers of God. You can refer to it as the universal church or as the church militant as some will call it. The question really is who is that person that can really claim to be a true member of the church of God?
2. LORD, who shall dwell in thy holly hill?
The holly hill is Mount Zion the final resting place of the Ark of God. Zion is the City of God. This is a permanent resting place that is why it is complemented with the word “dwell” from the Hebrew “shâkan” meaning to settle down and established. This is significant to us as Jesus promised believers in John 14 that he is going to prepare a place for us where we will dwell with Him permanently. This is the triumphant church. So basically the characteristics of those who will be triumphant to dwell with the LORD in eternity is examined in this chapter of Psalms.
Interestingly, Psalms 15:2-5 breaks the characteristics into two distinct categories. The inward (verse 2) and the outward (verse 3-5) characteristics.
1. Walking uprightly: This talks about one who doesn’t make mistakes. One who is innocent and have integrity. In 1Samuel12:3-5 Samuel challenged the people of Israel to name any wrong in him, the people acknowledged his integrity. Likewise Daniel was faultless as the other governors could not see any loop hole in him. Uprightness starts from the inside. A desire to be flawless, followed by the mindset to carry out all responsibilities in a faultless manner. When you’re willing God gives you the enabling grace.
2. Working righteously: basically doing what is fair. The Hebrew “tsedeq” describe what is just, right, normal and fair. It is clear from scriptures that God demand righteousness from His children. He went further to deliver to us the righteousness of Jesus which gives us salvation and opens the door for personal communion with God. However in our dealings with people, we must maintain fairness and justice. Even when we can cheat and get away with it, we must not see evil action as an option.
3. Speaking the truth in heart: sometimes it may look like speaking the truth is difficult. But God expect the truth from us always. It doesn’t matter who is involved here. It may be that someone close to you will be implicated when you speak the truth. You must speak the truth. Many time people have taken the option of keeping silent when they know the truth so as not to get anybody implicated, I believe that the truth not spoken is the same as telling a lie. The standard is to speak the truth from your heart (say all you know about it) no matter the consequences.
1. Do not backbite with the tongue: this is one who says nothing wrong. Backbiting means to slander others. There is no gain in looking for the fault in others just to pull them down by talking ill about them. Some are in the habit of gossiping others. Rather than slander others, hold hands together and prayer for that person.
2. Do not partake in evil towards others: many people see life as a competition. They will do all they can to get the better of others even engaging in evil acts so as to be ahead in the competition. That mindset is not right. The best mindset is to lookout for the good of others always.
3. No reproach against neighbors: “cherpâh” is the Hebrew word that translates reproach. It also mean to scorn or taunt. This could go to the extent of making someone else fell like a fool. This is against the teaching of the Bible. Taunting others perhaps because of the condition or situation they find themselves is not the attitude of a Christian. Rather than reproach others, be compassionate and show empathy.
4. Do not like bad people: a vile person is someone who is evil and bad. One who wish to dwell with the LORD must look at vile people with contempt. You should have nothing to do with bad people, you should despise them. The admonition in Psalms 1 should be followed strictly here. One who is godly is a light and must not be enjoying company with those who are evil and represents darkness. Infact the righteous must speak against evil when and wherever it is noticed.
5. Honours those who fear the LORD: the inclusion of the word “but” before this feature indicates that it is a continuation of the previous and inidicates something opposite to the former. While he do not like bad people, those who fears God should be honoured. Those who really fears God sincerely are termed “holier than thou” these days. That is an act of slander. We should learn from them, emulate them and imbibe such attitude. The fear of God is to acknowledge God’s ever presence and work according to His words. Such person deserve to be honoured (respected, reverend) here on earth publicly to let people know that it pays to fear the LORD.
6. Keeps to Promise even when it is not convenient: it seems so easy to make promises but keeping them can be a lot of issue. It’s a show of our integrity. Keeping to one’s word show our reliability. If men on earth do not consider you to be reliable, how do you expect heaven knowing all things to see you to be reliable. It is better you don’t make a promise than to make one and don’t fulfill it. Many have gone as far as making vows even to God and fail to keep their vow. This is a call to go back and fulfill your words. Jephthah had no other choice than to sacrifice his daughter in fulfilment of the vow he made before embarking on a war with the Ammonites (Judges 11)
7. Do not put out his money for interest: this basically serves as a reminder of the law to the Israelites. God commanded them not to collect interest on money given to a fellow Israelite. Christians should have the attitude of helping one another. When the need arises to help one another by way of lending money or a property to another proven christian in need, especially when the Spirit is leading, it should not be done with the mindset of making profit out of it by including interest. From experience, many people are not sincere when asking for help. So the best you can do is to help with the portion you can afford in such a way that even if it is not returned, you will not be affected adversely.
8. Do not take reward against the innocent: taking reward against the innocent is taking bribe to pervert justice. The act of bribery should not be found among believers in Christ. It do not matter whether life is involved or not. It is expected that you show forth justice and fairness in all your dealings. The innocent must be declared innocent while the guilty be shown as such. God is a righteous judge, if you bear His nature, you should also be just too.
Conclusively, the chapter ended by stating that those who possess these features shall never be moved. It means that dwelling with the LORD is guaranteed if you make the features your lifestyle.
1. Consider the features and see if you’re lacking any, pray that God will help you imbibe such so that you will be prepared to dwell with Him.
2. Pray that the distractions of life will not take you away from the heavenly track.