Who may abide in your tent?

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tent

Psalm 15:1 O LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill? 2 Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart; 3 who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbors; 4 in whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honor those who fear the LORD; who stand by their oath even to their hurt; 5 who do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent. Those who do these things shall never be moved.

Psalms like this one have historically been discouraging to me. Seriously. Why is that?

Well, David starts with a key question: “Who may abide in your tent?” At the time there was no temple in Jerusalem, but rather a “tent of meeting” where the presence of God dwelled. The permanent structure of the temple would be built by David’s son Solomon. Anyway, tent or not, who may abide there?

God is holy. Therefore sinful, profane or unclean things cannot abide with God. David answers his own question in v.2 “Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart…”. Quick question – do you know of anyone who fits the description of v.2 day in and day out? Me neither. The implied answer to the question posed in v.1, in my mind, is “no one”. There is no one who fits that bill, not even David. Even a cursory reading of 1 and 2 Samuel will make that obvious. Frankly, I doubt David would suggest he was perfect in this regard, yet it’s clear he understood himself to be among the “blameless” of v.2. How is that? That’s the question I’ve been wrestling with this morning. And as I’ve wrestled with the text something has emerged for me.

David wasn’t perfect, but he WAS humble before the Lord, He was keenly aware that his good fortune was a product of God’s favor and grace upon him, not his own efforts and innate holiness. When David sinned against God he readily confessed. In response God who was “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” would restore David to right relationship, by grace alone.

David wasn’t perfect, but he definitely loved and feared God.

With this understanding, then, Psalm 15 has become a word of hope and grace for me rather than a word of law and condemnation. I will stumble and fall short of holiness, there’s not doubt about it. But when I do God will restore me by his grace. And perhaps, as I grow in faith and maturity, I’ll stumble less frequently and enjoy more ongoing fellowship with God. Lord, let it be so. Amen.

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