After the heaviness of Psalm 14 it is a real delight to move to Psalm 15. How refreshing to move from hearing about those whom God refers to as “fools” to those to whom he refers to as “wise”. Those people who long to live well in His presence and enjoy the wonders of His love, living not only in a right relationship with him, but with all other humans around them. How the world desperately needs more “wise” people!
Wilcock comments, “In Bible terms…the ‘foolish’ are not necessarily stupid, rather, they are those who care nothing for God. Similarly, the ‘wise’ are not necessarily brainy; rather, they are those who care a lot about God. In this sense Psalm 15 is about wisdom, and is well placed…alongside its predecessor [Psalm 14], which has so much to say about folly.” (see references # 5)
David’s Psalm 15 could possibly be titled, “The Person After God’s Heart.”
Here is the Passion Translation:
[1. the question]
“Lord, who dares to dwell with you? Who presumes the privilege Of being close to you; Living next to you in your shining place of glory? Who are those who daily dwell In the life of the Holy Spirit?
[2. the answer]
“They are passionate and wholehearted, Always sincere and always speaking the truth – For their hearts are trustworthy. They refuse to slander or insult others, They’ll never listen to gossip or rumours, Nor would they ever harm another with their words. They will speak out passionately against evil, and evil workers; While commending the faithful ones Who follow after truth. They make firm commitments and follow through, even at great cost. They never crush others with exploitation or abuse And they would never be bought with a bribe against the innocent.
[3. the promise]
They will never be shaken, they will stand forever.”
When we read this psalm, it brings to mind a number of other Bible passages. For example, the “10 Words (or Commandments)” of Exodus 20; also Psalm 24:3-6 and Isaiah 33:14-17; then the words of Jesus on the “Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 as well as the words of Paul on “love” in 1 Corinthians 13.
This psalm is a so rich, I think to do it justice, we will need to spend some time meditating on what it is saying to us who live in the 21st Century who desire not to live as “fools” but to live as those who are “wise”.
So, to begin, some introductory comments:
Wilcock speaks of the “worshipers [who have] arrived at the sanctuary, fully aware that this was no place for the casual and the shoddy.” (see references # 5) i.e. coming into the presence of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! Something maybe we should think about a bit more before entering into worship with others on a Sunday?
Kidner comments, “The pattern of question and answer here may possibly be modelled on what took place at certain sanctuaries in the ancient world, with the worshiper asking the conditions of admittance, and the priest making his reply. But while the expected answer might have been a list of ritual requirements, here, strikingly, the Lord’s reply searches the conscience. It happens again in Psalm 24 :3-6 and in Isaiah 33:14-17, whose final climax anticipates closely, as this psalm does in general, the beatitude on the pure in heart.” (see references # 29) i.e. the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:8 when he said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God”.
And let me finish today with an interesting quote from Phil Moore in his book “Straight to the heart of Psalms” as he summarizes what he considers to be the content of this psalm in the context of our lives today. He suggests that:
“Psalm 15 is…a description of the kind of church that has…power to change a nation. David tells us that the lifestyle of a worshiper…should be the exact opposite of the lying, self-assertive, grasping culture which is spawned by an atheistic worldview. He tells us not to compartmentalize our Christian lives and to allow God to shape our character in every area. He tells us to resist the march of secularism by speaking up for God at school, at work, in the arts, in the media and in government. He tells us to stand up to militant pluralism by proclaiming that the Lord is the only true Saviour. When we do so, he promises that we will see our nation won to Christ. That’s what happens when people defy their culture because they have become friends with God the Culture –Changer.” ( see references # 36 )
Father, our desire is to be people with hearts like yours. Hearts undivided. Hearts for you and the needy people of the world around us. Hearts to love that which is good and hate that which is evil. Hearts acceptable to you. Empower us by your indwelling Holy Spirit to live like this. To live like Jesus! Amen.