Praying the Psalms: Psalm 19

God is a revealing God. He does not conceal himself, hiding away like the Wizard of Oz behind a curtain. God loves to show himself. David, in Psalm 19 is going to celebrate God’s revelation of himself both through the creation and through his word. God reveals himself generally through the cosmos, and specifically through the Scriptures. God’s gracious act of communicating himself to us is undeserved, but it is absolutely wonderful. If it wasn’t for God communicating himself to us, we would not know him. God reveals himself to us so that we might respond to his glory in worship.

Praying the Psalms

Commentary

v 1-6 - God has revealed himself in the cosmos. “The Heavens declare the glory of God.” Theologians call this aspect of God’s revelatory work general revelation. General revelation means that God has revealed himself to all people simply by creating the universe. We can see aspects of his attributes and character simply by observing creation. We can observe his grandness as we look at the immense size of galaxies or we can perceive his order and rule as he establishes the laws of physics. We can identify his creativity by looking at the his imagination at work in the many different organisms that populate our planet. We can comprehend his beauty by standing on a mountain watching the parting clouds over the red and orange tapestry of the sunset. The heavens are declaring the glory of God!

David tells us that each day is a mini sermon. The world itself is pouring out revelation. “Day to day pours out speech and night to night reveals knowledge.” The universe each day in rhythm continues its unceasing praise to God simply by its continual existence. The world is communicating something to us. The universe is pointing us to its creator, God himself. David says that speech doesn’t exist if the voice isn’t heard, but the voice of the cosmos of God’s glory is spread throughout the ends of the earth.

The voice of God’s general revelation goes out like the rising of the sun. The sun comes out each day like a bridegroom leaving his chamber. The sun runs its course across the sky with joy. It rises from one end of the sky and sets as the other. The light of the sun covers the earth and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

Everyone can hear the voice of creation testifying to its creator. Though many choose to ignore this message or drown it out, the message is hitting our ears if only we would listen to it. This complex, gargantuan, and beautiful cosmos sings like a choir in one unified message, “Glory to God!”

God speaks this message to every human being. We have all heard, yet we all reject God. Though God reveals himself generally to all, general revelation only condemns us. Though many people have yet to hear about Jesus and the Gospel, we are all witnesses to the general revelation of God and we have rejected him as God and have worshiped created things rather than the creator (Rom 1:25). Yet, even though our sin blinds us, the heavens speak, declaring the glory of God.

v. 7-11 - God not only reveals himself through creation, but God also speaks to us with words. Theologians call this special or specific revelation. The Bible, God’s written word is special revelation, and David begins to celebrate God’s revelatory work as he considers God’s word.

Verse 7-9 are a series of parallel statements describing and celebrating God’s word.  The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. Yes, how the word of God brings life to our soul! Though we are downcast, numb, and lifeless, God’s word comes in power restoring and reviving. The word of God brings life to those dry bones, so too does it revive those dead in sin and brings life.

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The word of God is a sure foundation. It is stable and firm. It is not filled with lofty and confusing worldly wisdom, but rather is simple and straight forward. It is a message that is clear to all people.

The precepts are the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. God’s words brings joy to our hearts, because they are right and true. We delight in the truth, so we delight in God’s revealed words. They are precious to us and we long to read them and know them. They are our joy because through his right precepts we are able to know and love God.

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. Scripture is pure and righteous. As we read it we see who we truly are. Our eyes are opened to see our own brokenness and sin as we gaze at the righteousness of God.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever. Yes, the word of God is clean. It is without error and without corruption. It is infallible and inerrant. As a result the word of God is fixed, enduring for ever. It never changes, because God never changes. As Jesus says, not one iota will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Mt 5:18)

The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. God’s word is true and righteous. It is the good word and the right word. It is the objective standard of what is right and wrong, what is good and what is holy, and what is righteous and what is sinful.

What response to we have to this wonderful self-revelation of God called the Scriptures? Well as David tells us in v. 10, we desire it. We long to know it and to read it. These Scriptures are more to be desired than gold. The word of God is sweeter than honey. We delight and desire for more of God’s revelation. We long for more of his word. We would gladly trade all the treasures and jewels and money in the world in order to own a Bible.

If only we would desire God’s word in this way, but our hearts are so stubborn. We spend so much time seeking the gold of materialism and the sweetness of the honey called comfort. If only we would repent of lesser joys in order to seek the greater joy, God himself, as we experience him and know him through his word! The word of God provides instructions and warnings. In keeping the word of God and following it, there is great reward.

v. 12-14 - The Psalm moves to reflection and confession. As we think about God’s revelation of himself, the only response is humility. God has revealed himself through his creation but more specifically through his word. Through the word of God we receive the Gospel message of Christ that tells us of our salvation by the grace of God. As we think of God’s revelatory work may we respond like David in humility. May God declare us innocent through the blood of Christ and keep us from sin. Through the mercy of God may we be made blameless and innocent under the blood of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of Jesus is the pinnacle, the highpoint of revelation. He is the one to whom all revelation points. As we see the arrows of the created order pointing us to God and as hear the words of God recorded in the Scriptures, the are all pointing to the glory of the redeemer, Jesus Christ. He is the one who takes away our sin and who makes us innocent and blameless. Praise be to God for his son and for his redemption. May we praise the Lord for his greatest work of revelation, as his word puts on flesh and dwells among us in the person of Jesus Christ.

v. 14 - The Psalm concludes in solemn prayer for God to find acceptable the words of David’s psalm. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord , my rock and my redeemer”. Even time we get on our knees in prayer, as we meditate on God’s written word, or as we speak to others about God, may this be our prayer. May our words and may our thinking be acceptable to God. May we think and speak in a way that gives glory to God and is acceptable to him. We we rightly divide the word of truth, speaking clearly and accurately about this glorious God.

Prayer Guide

  • Praise God for his created order and the beauty all around you that points to him.
  • Thank God for revealing himself not only through creation, but through his word.
  • Ask God to help you delight in his word more than gold or honey.
  • Confess your sins before God and ask that through the blood of Christ he would make you innocent and blameless before him.
  • Ask God to help you think and speak in a way that is acceptable this and honoring to him in all you say.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 18

The crescendo of victory reverberates as a joyous moment. David has spent many days frightened by his enemy, yet God would deliver him. The context of this psalm is important, it is almost an exact copy of the song of David from 2 Samuel 22 as David celebrates the victory God had given him over Saul. Yet, this personal song of David is included in the hebrew hymn book, indicating that the future prosperity of the people of God are tied to God's blessing on David and his offspring. As God's people would sing this psalm, it serves as a prayer for God to bless the line of David and grant their king victory. Praying the Psalms

Commentary

v. 1-3 - The psalm begins with a summary of the praise that will unfold. Interestingly, this Psalm concludes a section of psalms in which David is praying for deliverance against his enemies. (See Psalm 16, 17). The Psalm begins with David stating his love for the Lord. God has been a great rock and refuge for David. God protects like an impenetrable shield or a stronghold that can not crumble. Because David called on the Lord, God saved him from his enemies. The rest of the Psalm is a celebration of God's victory over David's enemies.

v. 4-6 - David begins to reflect how he had called on God in his most desperate moments. When the throngs of death surrounded him, when the torrents of destruction assailed him, and when the cords of Sheol ensnared him, he called out to God, his help. He calls out to God and the Lord heard the prayer of David.

One of the main applications we can make as we study these psalms of David, is his unwavering reliance on the Lord. In the moment of crises and desperation he is quick to get on his knees and go to his God. Shouldn't we do the same? Yet, whenever we find ourselves in crises, we quickly engineer a plan or vent our frustrations to a friend. How slow we are to simply get on our knees before God and pray for help!

v. 7-19 - These verses use vivid language to describe how God had delivered David from his enemies.  The imagery is extravagant and moves quickly from one metaphor to another. David describes God as a dragon riding swiftly to come to his aid (v. 10). Then he begins to describe God's arrival as a powerful storm filled with hailstones and fire as the thunder crackles (11-14). God drew David out of many waters, as his rescuer from his enemies.

The point David stresses in this vivid scenes is clear: God brought David his victory. David is helpless and surrounded, but God fought for David. God handled his enemies, and rescued him from their mighty hatred. So too does God single-handedly rescue us from our enemies, especially as we consider our greatest of enemies, sin and death. No power exerts such strength that the mighty hand of God cannot overcome.

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v. 20-30 - David then moves to claim his faithfulness to God during his difficult trial. He has kept the ways of the Lord; he kept the statutes of God, and was blameless before him. So the Lord rewarded David and delivered him. God loves the righteous and showers them in mercy. God shines as a  lamp to David, protecting him from his enemies and from sin. His love strengthens David as he follows the perfect way of God.

v. 31-45 - The Psalm begins to move to a great celebration of the work of God's victory. "For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?" (31). God has been his refuge and has equipped him with strength. He has been his shield and God has given him his support. It is by the power of God that David has been granted victory and his enemies destroyed like a fine dust. God has brought victory to the divinely appointed king.

v. 46-50 - The Psalm concludes with an important reflection on God's faithfulness to his anointed King. David summarizes, "The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation.” God has saved and delivered his anointed. God spared and rescued David from his enemies.

The last two verses serve as important reminders for us as we understand the flow of redemptive history. God brings great salvation to his king and shows love to his anointed. God has specifically chosen David and his offspring to bless and to bring about a blessing to others. As we look at the ways in which God rescued David from his enemies, God would rescue the greater David from his enemies. Many years down the road, another offspring of David would be anointed in the Holy Spirit as the divinely appointed King.

The God-man Jesus Christ was arrested and flung into the rushing waters of blood-thirsty men who sought his life. Yet, God was with his king. Through his flogging and crucifixion, God would not abandon his anointed. On the third day, God would raise his son to victory overcoming his enemies and conquering sin and death.

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Like Israel, our blessing is tied to God's blessing of the King. The victory of Jesus is our own victory, given to us by the mighty hand of God the Father. Through Jesus we share in his victory and we share in the glory of God's salvation as recipients of divine grace. God shows his steadfast love not only to his anointed, but to those who by faith submit their lives under his rule.

Prayer Guide

  • How has God brought you victory in your life? How has he crushed your enemies? Praise the Lord for his redemption.
  • Thank God that he honors those who by faith in Jesus seek to live righteously.
  • Praise the Lord for his power, greatness, and salvation.
  • Thank the Lord that he blesses his anointed, and that by faith we get to share in the blessed victory of Jesus Christ.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 17

Have you ever been so frustrated and so hurt that all you can do is pray? Psalm 17 is a prayer of lament from King David. David is being attacked unjustly by another individual and he cries out to God in hope. How should Christians respond when we are unjustly criticized or accused of wrong doing? Well, as we look at psalm 17, David’s prayer will  help us learn to pray in such situations. Praying the Psalms

Commentary

v. 1-2 - David begins crying out to God in prayer, seeking his attention. David is again expressing personal suffering unjustly, accused by his enemies.  So, he cries out to God, the great arbiter of justice, to hear his plea and case. David comes before God to plea his case, because he trusts in the judgement and justice of God. God is not fooled by the deceitful lies and subtle twisting of tongues that so often dominates the judicial courts of humanity. God has no concern for popular consensus or opinion, rather God is a God of truth. David, knowing that he has been unjustly accused has confidence to go to God, the just judge, to get the account straight.

v. 3-5 - David then begins to plead his innocence before God. He tells God that he has tried his heart. God knows everything there is to know about David. Whether by day or by night, God has visited him and knows it all. David challenges God to examine him and he will find innocence. Though David is accused by others, he seeks God to have the final word. David's mouth has not transgressed. He has avoided the ways of the violent. His steps have held firm on the narrow path and have not slipped.

Now David's plea for innocence does not mean that David considered himself sinless, but rather David sees himself as seeking to live righteously under the law of God. The stones that his enemies are throwing at him for sin are unjust. There are no evidence for their accusations. David pleads his case as he has been examined by God and found innocence. The accusations have nothing to do with David's own life or character, but only from the malice of the enemies.

v. 6-9 - David then turns in this next stanza to pray and call out to God. He asks for God to incline his ear and hear his words.  He knows that God is a fitting refuge for him. God is a safe place to lean on in times of tribulation. He requests that God would protect him from his enemies. David knows that God is a safe place because God has his eye on him. Indeed David is the apple of his eye. David can safely reside in the shadow of God's wings. There is no safer place to be than in the arms of the living God. From those enemies that seek David harm and who surround him, God is a refuge for him.

v. 10-12 - David then begins to ponder on the malicious aggression of his enemies.  They have no pity; they only seek to devour. They are predators on the prowl. They surround like a pack of wolves, bent on bringing their prey to the ground. They are like lions lurking in the shrubs waiting to pounce and tear a part David's flesh.

Sometimes as Christians we will have enemies just like the ones David had. There is a hatred and an intention to destroy at any cost. As the church becomes increasingly marginalized in our country, we too will feel the deadly blood-thirst of our enemies as they plot our destruction. Sometimes following Christ, means making enemies, not because you are seeking to make them, but rather because following God runs contrary to the ways of the world. Therefore, men and women of evil and blindness begin to gather, lurk, and tear apart the people of God.

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v. 13-14 - Here, God is summoned for action. "Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him!" This man who has such vicious hatred for David is to be taken out. David is crying out for deliverance from this man. Then the Psalm moves to some profound reflections on the nature of the wicked and the hope of the righteous. Men, who are like David's accuser, find hope only in this life. Though wicked men among us might be financially prosperous and wield great worldly success, that is the extent of their hope. Their portion is only in this life. Though they may have children, their riches cannot go with them to the grave. Their abundance is passed down to their children.

One of the great questions is the prosperity of the wicked? Why are so many wicked people so visibly prosperous while so many good and righteous people are in poverty? Well, David begins to look at things from God's perspective. Though the wicked might enjoy 70 years of wealth, comfort, and power, what is 70 years compared to 100 billion years? Even 100 billion is but a scratch on the surface to the unfathomable idea of eternity. David begins to recognize that his hope is not in a comfortable life now, but his hope is in a life to come.

v. 15 - David's confidence is found in God himself. He concludes his lament by reflecting on his true treasure. Though the wicked might have wealth and power, David’s hope is in the righteousness of God. Isn't that our hope as well? We don't need riches and we don't need comfort and we don't need fame. We need the righteousness of Jesus. We need God. And by the grace of God, His son is sent to liberate us from the bondage of sin and gift us with his righteousness! Our hope is not in this world, but in God himself.

So as David falls into the deep sleep of death, when he wakes he will be satisfied with likeness of God. We have this hope too. No matter what enemies might attack us, those made righteous by Christ set their hope on the life to come. Our reward is not temporal treasures, but the eternal and satisfying treasure of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer Guide

  • What enemies are attacking you? Call out to God for help.
  • Ask God to help trust him as you refuge.
  • Ask God for strength and protection from the lions.
  • Trust in God’s wisdom in confronting and subduing your enemies.
  • Regardless of what happens, ask God to help you to find hope in Christ, not in this world.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 16

Do you trust in the Lord? Is your contentment and joy so found in God that regardless of what happens in this life you have an unabashed confidence in Christ, your treasure? We tend to be unhappy people. We complain about our the quality of our home, the number on our paycheck, or the unexpected and frustrating events that happen to us. We tend to always want more from this world and we become angry when God does not give it to us. David gives us a radically different perspective in Psalm 16. This psalm is a prayer of contentment, joy, and trust in God alone. As we study this prayer, may God gives us this sort of attitude in our prayers and in our life. Praying the Psalms

Commentary

v. 1-2 - The Psalm begins with a cry of trust. “Preserve me!”, the psalmist cries. The Lord is his refuge. God is the one in whom all his trust lies. Whatever crisis we face, we must display an unrelenting trust in God, because he is our Lord. David recognizes that any good in his life comes directly from God himself. “I have no good apart from you” (v. 2).

We are quick to take credit for the good things that happen to us. We tend to praise ourselves for any good thing that happens to us, and blame God for any wrong. So when we get that promotion at work, we will praise our own handwork and dedication. We pat ourselves on our back and praise our accomplishment. Yet, David understands that any good in his life was not achieved by his own might, but by the gracious gifting of God. Apart from the loving and providential hand of God we would posses nothing good in life. All of it is from him.

We would be wise like David, to recognize God’s sovereign rule over our lives knowing that he rules it all. Because of his divine power over this world and over our personal lives, it is fitting to place our trust in him. He is an excellent refuge, fortified and strong.

v. 3-4 - David then goes on to describe his delight to be around the people of God. He delights in the saints of the land, the people of Israel. It is a joy to be around the Lord’s beloved. Yet, for those who run after false gods and idols, the psalmist does not participate in their pagan worship. He refuses to participate in idolatry.

David’ prefers to surround himself with the people of God. Though we must be careful not to live in a holy bubble as a church, we too should long to surround ourselves with God’s people. When we gather together for prayer, for worship, or for communion, the community of saints produces joy. We should delight in one another, because we delight in the holiness of God. In our lives we should seek active participation in the holy community and not participate in the false worship of a secular culture. David’s trust in God is proven by his delight in God’s people.

v. 5-6 - “You hold my lot.” God holds our very life in his hands. In verse 5 and 6, David expresses a contentment in his life, knowing that the Lord is in control. His lot is in his hands. God is so sovereign that he causes the dice to land. Sometimes life seem so random and chaotic, doesn’t it? But, David understands, and so should we, that God is the one who causes the lines to fall in our lives. Every door that is shut in our face or every door that is opened—all of it is decided by God himself. For David this is comforting and it gives him a robust contentment. Because his lot is decided by God, it allows him to be truly joyous with where God has him. He is not asking the “what if” question in the back of his mind. Rather, he sees his life and where he is as God’s will for him, and as he thinks about how God has directed his life he concludes that he has received a “beautiful inheritance”. Though David’s life was far from perfect, and though we too can have some rough areas of difficulty, we have been blessed far beyond what we deserve. The good in our life—from listening to the laughter of our children to sipping a warm cup of coffee on a cool summer morning—all of this is God’s beautiful inheritance towards us. Rather than cursing God for what isn’t, we should praise God for what he has given. When we begin to understand that the only thing we deserve is death, we begin to look at our life through the lens of gratitude to God. Then and only then, will God begin to give us a supernatural contentment as we stand in awe of God’s gracious provision for us.

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v. 7-8 - David’s trust in God gives him comfort and confidence. He receives comfort as the Lord gives him counsel. God instructs him and teaches him. The Lord is always before him and guiding him. The Lord isn’t absent from his life but very present. He is at his right hand. Therefore the comfort of his presence leads to confidence.

One of the most comforting promises in all of Scripture is the comfort of God’s presence in our life. Knowing that God is with us and that he does not abandon us, gives us a ferocious courage when life’s challenges begin to pile up into a mountainous wall. Our comfort and confidence is found in the Lord.

v. 9-10 - What is the result of this comfort and confidence in the Lord? Deeply satisfying gladness and joy. Like a fountain that runs over is the joy of our hearts when we trust in the Lord. We receive joy, because we know that regardless of the lot we have been given, that our flesh dwells secure. There is no need to fear whatever suffering, persecution, or martyrdom awaits us. When we have this sort of unwavering confidence in God’s rule over our life, it fills our hearts with joy. Whether we are thrown in a dark jail cell for preaching Christ in a closed country or whether we are beheaded by ISIS for following Jesus, for the Christian joy abounds. Because, when we put our trust in God, our flesh is secure though we may lose our own heads for his glory.

How can this be? Well it is through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead! The apostle Paul in his sermon in Acts 13:35 references Psalm 16:10 as evidence pointing to the resurrection of Christ. It is written, “You will not let your holy one see corruption”. Jesus Christ experienced the horrors and death of the crucifixion. It is there that his flesh was nailed and his blood poured out. Even still, Jesus went to the cross with joy accepting the lot that God had given him. Though, God does not allow his holy one to see corruption. Jesus paid the price for our sins and absorbed the excruciating torment of the crucifixion, and it was God who raised him from the dead. God did not abandon his son to Sheol, but raised him from the grave on the third day!

For the Christian, who has trusted in Jesus Christ as savior and Lord, we have this same hope. Because of Jesus, God will not abandon our soul to Sheol. Death has lost its power. It is a defeated foe. Therefore, regardless of what believers face in this life whether filled with worldly blessings or whether filled with thistles and thorns, there is still unceasing joy for the Christian. The joy of the Christian is not found in our circumstances but found in God himself. Because God comforts us with his presence it gives us confidence knowing, that whatever our lot may be, it is well with our soul, because our life is found in the resurrected glory of Jesus Christ. Though we may lose our heads, our flesh dwells secure in Christ. Therefore our hearts are glad and rejoice in the unshakeable confidence and hope we have in the resurrection of Christ!

v. 11 - The conclusion of this Psalm is filled with joy. God has made known to us the path to true life, a life of joy and contentment. The path to truly living is not found in hedonistic pleasure or materialistic wealth of the world, but in the hedonistic wealth of the pleasure of God’s presence. “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasure for evermore” (v. 11). God by his great grace and mercy, through Jesus, brings us into the fullness of joy in his presence. When we live with Jesus as our all consuming treasure, he is the satisfaction for which we long. He is the oasis of rest. He is the pearl of great price. Praise be to God that in Christ we receive the fullness of joy. May we trust in Christ by faith to receive this great salvation purchased for us, and in our Christian life may we display such trust in God—that regardless of our present circumstances—that the fullness of joy in God would dwell within our hearts. For we know, that God will not let his holy ones, sanctified by the blood of Christ, see the corruption of hell. He will not abandon us in death. But, at the moment of our last breath we will experience the totality of the fullness of joy as we stand in the satisfying and glorious presence of God as we enjoy the pleasure at his right hand forevermore.

Prayer Guide

  • Are you trusting in God in whatever you are facing? Ask God to help you trust in him as your refuge?
  • Do you delight in God’s holy people? Ask God to give you a joy in the community of the saints.
  • Thank God for the “beautiful inheritance” he has given you. Praise him, knowing that apart from him, you would possess no good in this life.
  • Express thankfulness for the comfort of his presence and the confidence you possess knowing that he is at your right hand.
  • Thank the Lord for Christ, who by his resurrected glory gifts us with a gladness that fills up our whole being.
  • Ask the Lord to give you a trust and contentment with Christ as your treasure.
  • Praise the Lord that through Jesus he brings you into his divine presence where your joy is full and infinity satisfying.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 15

How can man be with God? Who can come before His presence? We tend to ignore the importance of that question. We live in a world in which many people deny the transcendent. Functionally, many people live as if there is no God. So why would they wonder how they can be in his presence? Yet, this is the most fundamental question. Who can come before the presence of God? As we look at another Psalm of David, we are going to see David meditate on just this question. IMG_0500

Commentary

v. 1 - The Psalm begins with two parallel questions. "O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?" The question presupposes something foundational—not every human being will be accepted before God in his glorious presence. The idea of the tent David mentions draws our attention to the tabernacle that was used during the wilderness years. The tabernacle served as the home of the very presence of God in the midst of the encamped people. Later, Solomon would be a temple, place on that holy hill. The tabernacle/temple dynamic in the Old Testament serves as an important tool in teaching us about God and his presence.

First, God is distinct and holy. The innermost part of the temple was the holy of holies. It was the most sacred space. Only the high priest could enter in to make a sacrifice. He would only enter once a year after extensive purification and preparation. To enter into that place was gloriously terrifying. God is holy and untouchable.

Second, We are defiled and unclean. Because of our sin, we cannot simply waltz into the presence of God as we would stroll about our homes. God provided strict rules of who was allowed to come into his presence. The reason for this is because we are sinners. Our rebellion causes separation between us and God.

So as we look at this in the canon of Scripture, “who shall dwell on your holy hill?”—the answer is no human being. We have all fallen short. We have all sinned. Yet, we know that God makes a way. He cleanses us from our sin, not through the sacrifice of bulls and goats, but through the final sacrifice for all, the Lord Jesus Christ. It was through the death of the Lord Jesus that the thick curtain that separated the holy of holies was ripped in two. For those who come clothed in the righteousness of Jesus by faith, they may enter into the very presence of God.

So this psalm does not intended to show us how to be saved, as that is not its purpose. If we were to read it in that way we would severely misunderstand its meaning and wrongly conclude that all it takes is to be a good person. Yet, that is not what David is trying to teach us. David knew that he is not blameless. The man was a murderer and adulterer. Just read David's psalm of confession in psalm 51.

So what is the purpose of this psalm? This psalm was most likely sung by the people of Israel as they would gather at the temple for worship. It was a song of personal reflection and heart examination. Am I coming to God with the ideal heart for worship?

As Christians, we gather into worship on Sunday morning in a trivial and lackadaisical manner. We enter into worship with little self reflection and little confession. We truly don't prepare our hearts for worship. Unfortunately churches have become in practice like the theater. A group of people socializing and taking there seats getting ready to watch the show. Yet, Psalm 15 instructs us that when we come to worship we must examine ourselves.

v. 2-5b - David then begins to give a list of inner characteristics that describe a true worshiper. The inner and personal holiness of a Christian is vital for true worship. Yes, we are not saved by our works. Yet, Christ Jesus didn't save us to leave us as sinners. Rather, as Christians we embark on a journey of sanctification. Though we cannot reach perfection in this life, the end goal is that we will one day worship God in complete purity and personal holiness. As we worship God today, we must seek to worship him in the inner purity of our heart and life. Where there is sin we must confess it and repent. We must seek to become, by the Spirit's power, true worshipers of the Lord.

So what sort of character does David describe? Well, a true worshiper walks blamelessly and does what is right. He speaks truth in his heart. What a beautiful combination! A true worshiper of God loves the truth and sound doctrine, yet lives it out in his daily life as he walks blamelessly.

The true worshiper also speaks the truth. He does not slander or speak evil to his neighbor. His relationships with other people are upright. He doesn't tear people down and he doesn't use people for his own selfish gain. A true worshiper possesses a reputation for honesty by those around him.

A true worshiper also despises evil. He has a love for those who fear and love the Lord. He honors those who fear God while despising those who are vile. This person keeps his promises and he does not back out of them though it might end up being personally costly to him. In the words of Jesus, his yes is yes and his no is no. He generously treats all people fairly, not even charging interest to others. He is just and refuses to take a bribe.

The person David describes is morally upright, solid in character, loving in personal relationships, and known for his personal integrity. This is the kind of person that can come and truly worship the Lord. As we read these sort of character traits they give us pause. Am I such a man or woman? In Christ, am I becoming someone who walks blamelessly? Who speaks truth? Who is generous and loves justice? The answer, if we are honest, is this: we still have a long ways to go. By God's grace may he form us into this type of worshiper as he conforms us to the image of his perfect son Jesus Christ.

As we read this list of inner character traits, only Jesus alone could fulfill them. If these are the requirements of entering in to the tent of God's presence, than he alone could enter in without fear. Yet, by the substitutionary death of Jesus, God gives us Jesus’ perfect record of righteousness. Now, by the Spirit's work, God is transforming us into who we now are in Christ.

v. 5b - The last sentence tells us the sort of confidence this sort of worshiper can have. "He who does these things shall never be moved." For those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation and who daily seek personal holiness, we can have great confidence. We will not be shaken and we will not be moved. Through the love of Christ and the gracious work of the preserving and sanctifying work of the holy Spirit one day we will see God face to face in all his glory.

As you come into worship this upcoming Sunday, remember it is a foretaste of heavenly realities. Examine your heart. Come prepared for worship. Seek holiness and justice in your life, and know that it is only through Jesus that you shall dwell on that holy hill in worship.

Prayer Guide

  • Thank God for Jesus and for his grace in granting you access to the Father.
  • Ask the Lord to reveal to you hidden sin. Examine yourself.
  • Ask the Lord to help you seek personal holiness and to grow in the image of Jesus Christ
  • Thank God that through Jesus you can come before God in confidence.