Saturday, February 5, 2011

Psalm 15

Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
     Who may live on your holy hill?
He whose walk is blameless
     and who does what it righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart
     and had no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbour no wrong
     and casts no slur on his fellowman,
who despises a vile man
     but honours those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
     even when it hurts,
who lends his money without usury
     and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
     will never be shaken.

Upon first read through, living up to all that is listed in the psalm as what it takes to enter God's presence seems impossible. We may do well at most of these things most of the time, but not all of them all of the time. We know we are far from perfect. Thankfully, as disciples of Christ, we do not to try to live up to these standards in our own strength. Jesus has already made a way for us to enter God's presence - our living up to certain standards is not required for that. We also have the Holy Spirit living in us to help us to live these things out in our day to say lives.

Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?
The writer of the psalm is clear that not just anyone can enter into God's presence. In the Old Testament, the sacrifices and laws were what made people able to enter God's presence. As new Testament disciples of Christ, Jesus has made a way. But, having access to God's sanctuary through Jesus' sacrifice for us, does not mean that there should be no change in the way we live our lives.

He whose walk is blameless
What does it mean for our walk to be blameless? How can we, as fallen creation, ever have a blameless walk?Elsewhere in Scripture, the words perfect, upright, without blemish are used for the same word in the original language as is used here. The literal definition of the word blameless as used in these verses speaks of being unimpaired, whole, innocent, having integrity. That is a rather high standard on our own. But, it is something that is achievable with the Holy Spirit in us. I do not know too many people who do not desire to live a life of integrity no matter how hard it may be. Part of that is choosing to avoid willful or planned sin. We choose to avoid that, rather than planning to sin and just ask for forgiveness after we have indulged.

And who does what is righteous
To be righteous is to act in a morally correct manner. The righteous person does what is right simply because it is right.

Who speaks the truth from his heart
Speaking the truth in all situations is important. But the most important part of speaking the truth is that it comes from the heart. Sometimes speaking the truth can be difficult or painful, but when it comes from the heart, it is coming from love and care for others. When contemplating speaking the truth in a tough situation, the question to ask is whether the desire to speak the truth is coming from a heart of love or from a desire to be right or better than the other person.

And who has no slander on his tongue
Slander is speaking poorly or destructively of another person. There is nothing good or positive about slander. That is why it should be avoided. Our speech about others should not slanderous.

Who does his neighbour no wrong
We should be seeking to do what is good and right to those around us, not what is wrong or harmful. On the surface, this seems rather obvious, but in practice, it can be much more difficult that we really care to acknowledge.

And casts no slur on his fellowman
No matter what makes a person different from us, there is no reason for us to speak poorly or derogatorily of them. All humankind has been made in the image of God and deserve our respect.

Who despises a vile man
A vile man is one who is one whose behaviour is morally wrong. To despise them means that we are disgusted with the behaviour of that person.

But honours those who fear the Lord
What does it mean to fear the Lord? To fear the Lord means to have a respect and awe for who God is. It is not a fear in that we are hiding from Him because we are afraid we will be punished for something. It is a fear that causes us to realize how great He is and how worthy of all our respect and honour and worship He is because of who He is.

Who keeps his oaths even when it hurts
Throughout Scripture we are told to keep our word - to keep our promises. When we say something, we are to follow through on it. Sometimes doing so may cause us pain - financially, emotionally, relationally, physically - but we are to follow through with that promise anyways.

Who lends money without usury
Usury was the word for interest in the Old Testament Law. Israelites were not to lend money to fellow Israelites who were poor and charge them interest to make money off their backs. God's command was to be generous in helping out those in need without expecting something in return.

And does not accept a bribe against the innocent
No matter what they payout might be - financially, relationally, materially - we should not accept it if it means harm will be done to an innocent person.

He who does these things will never be shaken
This psalm is describing the life of someone who is following God`s commands and ways. This person is building a firm foundation for their life and deepening a relationship with their heavenly Father. They will be able to stand even in the midst of life`s storms.

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