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Intro: Read Psalm 15 – This psalm is identified as a psalm of David. Probably written during the establishment of the tabernacle on Mt. Zion. It poses a question and then answers the question in the remaining 4 verses of the Psalm.
I. What is the question? – “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?, Who may dwell in Your holy hill?”
A. The word “abide” (sojourn) and tabernacle suggest a temporary stay, but the word “dwell” and “holy hill” (as in the city of Zion) suggest permanence. More probably it means, “who is fit to be a guest in your house?” or “who shall be fit to stay in your house?” Would you let just anyone stay in your home? Do you set standards for those of your family, as their conduct reflects upon your house?
B. There is also the question of citizenship. Who is allowed to have citizenship in the land? The government requires the acceptance of certain responsibilities before it grants the rights of citizenship. Who may dwell in God’s “holy hill”, and claim the right of citizenship?
C. The question refers to relationship rather than a physical dwelling place. God dwells among His people through His Spirit in the body, or church. – 1 Tim 3:15 “… I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.; Eph 2:19-22 “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
- What are the characteristics of the people of God? This question is not exhaustively answered here. All those in Christ have obeyed the gospel. But it speaks about qualities that show others who we are:
II. What are the qualities of the citizens of Zion?
A. Character (15:2) “He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.” (NKJV) “He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart.” (NIV)
1. He who walks uprightly. He is a person of integrity & honesty. his purposes are pure, and he has no ulterior motive for doing what is right. Pulpit commentary says this man has an “absolutely incorruptible aim at the glory of God“. He is a person who cannot be blamed.
- o 1 Peter 2:11-12 – 11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
2. Who works righteousness. Righteousness = conforming to a standard, particularly God’s standard (Matthew 7:21 – 21 “Not everyone who says to Me,’Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.) His works are God-approved works.
3. Who speaks the truth in his heart. The truth here pictured in “in his heart”, and refers not to just what he says, but to his conscience, and his conduct. He is not a hypocrite. Matt 15:16-20 So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? “Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. “These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
B. Kindness (15:3) “He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
1. “He does not backbite with his tongue“. James tells us that the man who can bridle his tongue is control of his whole self. He has won the toughest of battles. There are many who would never physically attack someone who easily assault others with their tongue. God’s people must stand out for their kindness to each other, and refuse to allow others to use them for evil-doing:
2. He “does not take up a reproach against his brother..” He will not allow others to gossip about or malign others in his presence. He controls his ears.
C. Conviction (15:4,5) “In whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the LORD; he who swears to his own hurt and does not change; He who does not put out his money at usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
1. “In whose eyes a vile person is despised.” We must be careful here. God does not sanction hatred or dispising toward other people. The Psalmist is using the image of the reprobate to express one’s attitude toward sin.
a. The vile man or reprobate refers to the deepest of sinners-one who cannot or does not use judgment or has failed in judgment. A citizen of Zion despises wickedness (Ps. 119: 53 “Indignation has taken hold of me because of the wicked, who forsake Your law.) God wants people who have clear-cut convictions on right and wrong. This is problem is exhibited in our worldly associations – (I Cor. 15:33 “Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals.”) Christians must be willing to rebuke sin, and stand up to honor righteousness.
b. Coffman suggests that the Psalmist is describing the person who would make excuses for the sinner or enable him in his wickedness. – In the last analysis, the man of God must not envy, or make excuses for, or show any preference whatever for the reprobate; (from Coffman’s Bible Commentary)
2. “..who swears to his own hurt and does not change;” There are tow thoughts here:
- o The Christian does not change his conviction and application of the truth, even when it is difficult to apply. He is willing to stand by his convictions even if it brings him pain.
- o He keeps his promises to others and his oath even when it hurts. His word is true and dependable (Mt. 5:33-37 – let your yes be yes, and your no no.)
3. “..He who does not put out his money to usury, not does he take a bribe against the innocent.” – The Christian does not take advantage of others. In fact he is willing to be defrauded himself in order to preserve his relationship with his brother. (1 Cor. 6)
- o The law forbid Jews from charging interest on the money they lent to other Jews. (Ex. 22:25).
- o The Christian cannot be bought. Remember a man named Judas? His incidental greed & dishonesty opened his heart to the greatest of crimes.
Conclusion: David tells us that the person who lives as God would desire has security. “He shall never be moved” (shaken – NIV). James warns about the double-minded person who is unstable because he has no convictions to overcome his doubt. ( Ja. 1:6-8) But God’s people have confidence in the power of their God, and in the acceptableness of their own conduct.
- Their confidence is rooted in the absolute knowledge of God. He sees the heart. Story of the ladies who visited Mexico and brought home the cute little dog. – It was a Mexican rat. God know those who are his.