Who is blameless? — Psalm 15

Psalms of David

Psalms in Book 1 (Psalms 1 to 41) are mostly personal songs, so I will be looking at how they apply to us personally. Social and communal aspects of life and work do not come in until the later books of psalms.

As I work through the book of psalms (I have done them out of order and so am over halfway through) I look and find I have not looked at the purpose of psalms. The biggest clue is that there are a lot more psalms than I realised, as well as the psalter there are other psalms in the Bible which include The Lamentations of Jeremiah and Habakkuk chapter 3. On top of these, there are several psalms within the prophetic books and inset in the histories. It is to these inset psalms that I look for the purpose of the psalms as they serve two functions. to focus the attention on the works of God and to provide proper models of worship.

A sacrifice taking place in the tabernacle in the wilderness; the encampments of the Jewish tribes spread out to the horizon. Coloured lithograph.

The books of Psalms are roughly themed like this:

Book 1: Psalms 1 – 41: God is beside us.
Book 2: Psalms 42 – 72: God goes before us
Book 3: Psalms 73 – 89: God is all around us.
Book 4: Psalms 90 – 106: God is above us.
Book 5: Psalms 107 – 150: God is among us.

A Psalm of David.

15 O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
    Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
    and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue
    and does no evil to his neighbour,
    nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    but who honours those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
who does not put out his money at interest
    and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.

Psalm 15 ESVUK

I’m sorry David, I think you got the thing about despising a vile person wrong. I remember my time before I knew God, I did not live by Christian standards, why should I? I am not saying it is OK to live outside God’s standards, but I am saying those who live outside them should be shown understanding and love.

One thing I do like is the ESV says that the person who sojourns in God’s tent does what is right. Other translations talk about being righteous, but righteousness is not seen as a positive thing in society as the only way it is used is in self-righteousness, self-righteous, which is the opposite of what the Bible means. (I also have an issue with using sojourn in translation too as it is not commonly used in spoken English).

The tent refers to the tabernacle where God was worshipped in the Exodus across the desert and right up to when the Temple was built in Jerusalem by David’s son, King Solomon. The holy hill refers to the Temple Mount on Jerusalem so this psalm can be dated to the later part of David’s reign after the Ark of the Covenant had been brought to Jerusalem.

The question of who can worship before God is answered by a list of some of God’s laws which point towards the integrity of that person. Those who can worship before God are people of integrity, In the Old Testament, you could attain this moral integrity by offering sacrifices to cover up your sins. Paul, in the New Testament, said that the sacrifices did not distinguish the Jews from the gentiles in God’s sight:

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 3:21-23

So we have all sinned. We are all unworthy to enter God’s tent, so where is hope? Paul has an answer to that:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Galatians 4:4-6

Jesus is the only one who can enter into God’s tent because he has integrity, Jesus alone is holy enough. But through Jesus, we can be made clean enough to enter. We worship God not because we are holy enough to worship God but because God gave himself, in the form of the man Jesus Christ to be holy on our behalf, and he shares that holiness with us. We have the right to rest in the presence of God, in his tent, on his holy hill, through Jesus Christ our Saviour, and only through him.

< Psalm 14 | Psalm 15 | Psalm 16 >
< Previous | Psalms of David | Next >

Tell me what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s