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Psummer in the Psalms  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:29
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If Psalm 15 had modern day theme music to accompany it, it would be the song, “Who Are You?” by The Who. Before the came up with 17 different iterations for CSI (CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, CSI: Cyber, CSI: Walmart), the original series borrowed the chorus of this song:
Who are you? Who, who, who, who? Who are you? Who, who, who, who? Who are you? Who, who, who, who?
It’s a catchy tune. It’s an even more important question, one that David seems to be asking himself; one that God seems to be asking each one of us, as we let this psalm search us.
If you have your Bible (and I hope you do) please turn with me to Psalm 15. If you are able and willing, please stand for the reading of God’s Holy Word.
Psalm 15 NIV
A psalm of David. 1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? 2 The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; 3 whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others; 4 who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; 5 who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things will never be shaken.
May God add His blessing to the reading of His Holy Word!
This psalm gets right to the heart of the matter. It begins with a question, with the question, really. “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy mountain?”
This is the question that matters.
In David’s time, there was sort of a double ‘sanctuary’ and ‘holy hill’. The ark of the covenant was in Jerusalem and worship took place there. However, the tabernacle had been at Gibeon (about 5 miles NW of Jerusalem) and so sacrificial worship took place there.
David’s concern isn’t with geography, with a specific location. His concern is with what should take place in Jerusalem and/or Gibeon—worship and communion with the Lord Yahweh.
Psalm 15 is markedly different than Psalm 14. Last week, we looked at the depraved fool who said starkly, “There is no God.” But here in Psalm 15 is one who desires God, who seems to think that nothing is quite so important as meeting the conditions for enjoying fellowship with God.
Sadly this is a priority we lose sight of all too often; we mix up what is most important.
There’s was a story a few years back about an orthopedic surgeon in Boston who was suspended from his medical practice and stripped of his license. The cause? Six hours into a spinal fusion procedure this surgeon told his colleagues in the operating room that he had to step out for a minute. What was so urgent? He had to go to the bank to deposit his paycheck.
Oddly enough, the board of medicine seemed to think that back surgery was more important than a bank deposit.
We tend to fall into similar trap. We lose sight of the fact that most the matters we are most wound up about aren’t really that important.
Truth be told, family outings, sporting events, community activities, our media and video game obsessions, club and organization obligations are all a bunch of pretty trivial clutter.
Maybe this first line of Psalm 15 will wake us up and make us think about that which really matters.
The question is, in a word, “Who?” 10-11 times the word “who” is used (NIV), and it’s assumed a few more times as the conditions are ratted off.
“Who?” Who can enjoy the fellowship and friendship of the Lord? Well, verses 2-5 tell us. And the verses seem to put themselves into a few neat categories for us.

Tendencies (v. 2)

The one who may enjoy fellowship with the Lord has certain tendencies, some typical ways they function.
Their walk is blameless.
The way they conduct their lives in a faithful manner. “Blameless” doesn’t mean flawless or sinless; it doesn’t mean perfect. It’s the way Abram was to live. The Lord told Abram: “Walk before me faithfully and be blameless.”
This is basic covenant loyalty to the Lord. Their walk, their way of life, their behavior and actions are in keeping with the Lord’s will and commands.
Their walk is blameless and it plays itself out externallythey do what is righteous—and internallythey speak the truth from their hearts.
Half of this is something others can observe. The external, the doing what is righteous is something others can witness.
The internal is open only to the Lord’s scrutiny. Only the Lord truly knows what’s going on in one’s heart.
This, then, is the tendency/the tone of life of the one who worships the Lord and will enjoy fellowship with him: they live out of heart surrender to the Lord and both the external and internal parts of their lives are consistent with that commitment.

Speech (v. 3)

“Oh, no. Pastor’s gonna preach about our speech again—gossip, slander, unwholesome talk...”
Well, sort of, yes. More significantly and far more searching is that the Bible speaks about our speech again. And again and again.
For the one who will enjoy fellowship and relationship with God, their speech will be governed by restraint.
This, in a day and age where every thought, every cowardly criticism, every backbiting comment, every opinion is aired publicly on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat or whatever you crazy kids use these days. We have lost all sense of restraint where our speech is concerned. Restraint is not only good common sense, it’s biblical.
Let me give you a little tip: you don’t have to say everything that comes to mind. You don’t have to comment on every single post you see. You don’t have to fight every online battle. The better part of self-control would have you do very, very little of that. Just stop. Especially if it’s not something you’d say directly to that person, it’s probably a bad idea.
Restraint is a characteristic of the one who will enjoy fellowship and communion with the Lord.
Psalm 15:3 NIV
3 whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others;
They won’t utter slander or wrong their neighbor or cast a slur on anyone. Sounds pretty nice.
In their speech, the one who would dwell with God and live with Him does not mock or ridicule.
The word the NIV translates slur and other versions translate reproach or derision, is the same word used to explain the mockery Goliath heaped upon Israel and Israel’s God.
When you’re a giant, you can get away with some of this stuff, but you’re not going to mock God. God will not be mocked or slurred; He will take no reproach.
The one who wants to be with the Lord on His Holy hill doesn’t mock or ridicule others because of their conditions or circumstances. This verse explains what the would-be worshipper does not do.

Affections (v. 4a)

This one deals with just the first couple lines of verse 4 (verse 4a): Who despise those whose ways are vile, but honor whoever fears the Lord.
Their affections are set on those they despise and those they honor. Now, this is the opposite of politically correct.
To despise anyone is a difficult stance to take. But, it makes sense when you understand that the one who wants to be with the Lord cannot look with tolerance upon those who oppose the ways of the Lord.
The worshipper of the Lord has preferences, makes distinctions; they have affection for God’s people and distaste for those who oppose God’s people and God’s ways.
It’s always at this point that someone starts to think “Well, Jesus says, ‘Judge not’”—the most referenced and ill-quoted verse in the Bible.
After Jesus said, “Judge not,” (meaning stop it with the hypocritical judgment) He went onto tell those listening that they needed to make general judgments. After “Judge not,” Jesus said,
Matthew 7:6 NIV
6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
In other words, the one who wants to fellowship with the Lord must make judgments, they must be discerning. Disciples are called to make certain judgments (“Are they dogs or hogs?”).
There are things and people to honor, and things and people to despise, rough as that sounds. Those who follow the Lord must have their affections settled.

Integrity (v. 4b)

The one who would worship and be with the Lord must be a person of integrity, as expressed by the last line of verse 4: they keep their oaths, even when it hurts (he who goes on oath to his own harm and does not change).
This person will keep her word even if it’s not to her own advantage to do so.
We don’t often swear oaths formally any more, so our situation might look a little different.
Imagine getting a quote for someone to paint a room in your house, and you agree to use that person and you give them the job. And then you realize that Meghann will paint any room anytime for just a few chocolate chip cookies.
Tempted as you are to save a buck, you realize it’s better for you to keep your word; you refuse to go back on your agreement, you keep your original commitment. You might be the loser financially, but you’re committed to keeping your word.
The one who would worship and commune with the Lord must be integritous (a person of integrity).

Contentment (v. 5a)

The one who would worship, the one who would be in His presence, fellowshipping with Him is one who lends money to the poor without interest and does not accept bribes against the innocent.
The one who desires fellowship with God won’t bleed another dry or take someone for as much as they can. If they’re in a legal position of some kind, they won’t take a bribe to turn a case against the innocent.
She isn’t obsessed with the economy. He’s not driven by covetousness or always after ‘more’. They are concerned only with their daily bread, and nothing more.
As it’s written (1 Timothy 6:6): “godliness with contentment is great gain.”
>Now that we’ve worked our way through these categories of character (tendencies, speech, affections, integrity, contentment), we have to look at this as a whole. What are we to make of this?
Let’s first realize that this is not exhaustive. This isn’t covering every single requirement, nor is it saying all of these apply to every person in Israel.
This is simply a picture of what one who would fellowship with the Lord might look like. None of these ‘marks’ of a genuine worshipper are all that extraordinary. These are simply what ought to characterize a faithful member of God’s people.
The function of this detailed picture is to show what an authentic, acceptable worshipper of the Lord looks like. It’s action-focused, not feeling- or emotion-based.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get one line into the characteristics mentioned in the psalm before I started thinking: “Oh no! I’m sunk. There is no way I can cross off each point on this list—my character is flawed! If this is what’s required, I’m doomed.”
The weight of this—just verses 2-5—is crushing, and again, it’s not like anything on this list is all that extraordinary.
As we went through this, I bet there was some part of you that was mentally ticking-off each description, deciding how well you met these standards.
“Blameless walk…not really...”
“No slander on my tongue…nope...”
“Cast no slur on others…well...”
“Keep my oaths, even when it hurts…sometimes, maybe...”
For me, and maybe for you, there’s more failure here than there is success. It’s as if this psalm has scratched a case of poison ivy and made it flare up all the more.
Some will say: “Psalm 15 leaves me in tatters, in ruins.”
The questions this psalm asks can leave us feeling hopeless, worthless. “Who may dwell with the Lord? I don’t know…probably won’t be me.”
In a strange way, there’s some grace in this psalm.
Anything that brings you to your knees and shows you how pervasive your sin is and how much you need atonement and forgiveness is gracious.
I’m thankful this psalm leaves me feeling helpless in my own strength to make the cut, to meet the standard. Truth be told, there’s no way I could accomplish all of these, and certainly not perfectly. And friend, neither could you. No way. No how.

We Can’t Do It!

If there was a way for us to earn our way, to do enough, to be good enough, the law would have been it. All the commands and statutes of the Lord, if we could have followed them perfectly, would have (in theory) made us right with Him. The problem is, we break even these few requirements listed here in Psalm 15. There’s no way we live up to everything the Lord requires. No way. No how.
I gladly call myself a Christian, a Christ-follower. But in deeper theological circles or while with my fellow nerds in the nerdery, I refer to myself as an imputationist.
I believe deeply and firmly that the sin of all who belong to God by faith in Jesus Christ was imputed to Jesus on the cross. It was credited to His account. And that Jesus’ righteousness was imputed to us, credited to us. And this, and only this is what makes us right with God. We needed a sacrifice to deal with our sin and make us righteous. Jesus Himself was that sacrifice—perfect and complete.
For me, an imputationist, it’s my belief that Jesus’ blameless life, His perfect speech, His proper affections, His matchless integrity, His unflinching contentedness were credited to my account.
And this, my being found in Him, my receipt of His record is what gives me the right to fellowship with God, to dwell with Him, to worship Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We Can’t Do It, But Jesus Can and Has!

As I read this psalm in preparation for this sermon a few weeks ago, the word who kept popping out (it’s all over these verses, so of course it did). Who? Who? Who? Who is the person that can do all these? Who is this describing?
It’s simple: Jesus. We need Jesus. We need all He is imputed to us.
Here’s the glorious truth of the gospel:
“Everything Jesus Christ has done is now legally true of you.” - Timothy Keller
Psalm 15 concludes with these words: Whoever does these things will never be shaken.
We can readily admit that we, on our own, don’t meet this criteria. We don’t check all the boxes. But, as the doctrine of imputation teaches, everything Jesus Christ has done, including living a perfect life of perfect obedience to the Father, is now legally true of us—then we know, in Christ, we will never be shaken.
The psalmist started out asking:
Psalm 15:1 NIV
1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?
And he ends with this grand assurance of being ever kept in God’s grip, continuously and permanently. We begin asking about fellowship with Him and we end up with security.
The Lord always does far more than we ask or can even imagine, doesn’t He?
Who are you? Be honest. Be honest with yourself or ask someone who knows you well how well you match up to the sketch of the kind of person who can fellowship with God.
Chances are, if you can be honest with yourself or if you have someone in your life who will be perfectly honest with you, you will quickly realize that you fail at one or more of these.
This I know: there is only one person who has been perfectly obedient to the Father, only one who has walked a blameless life. And you aren’t Him. But you can be found in Him! You can have His record instead of your own! You can, in Him, be the person who is fit to fellowship and live with the Lord.
Who may dwell in the Lord’s presence? Who may live on His holy mountain?
Really, there are only two answers. Either you can say, “I’m good enough on my own,” or you say, “I’m nowhere near good enough; but Jesus is and I’m with Him.”
Friend, unite yourself with Him today. Hitch your wagon, your life to Him. Be found in Him, or be lost without Him.
Let’s pray:
Lord, we long to fellowship with you, to dwell in your presence, to be where you are. We know that we don’t measure up. We don’t make the cut. We can’t do well enough. We are disobedient creatures. By nature, we are deserving of your wrath. We are not able to make ourselves right with you—no way, no how.
Yet this we call to mind and therefore, we have hope: in Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, we can be made right with you. In Him, we have the right to fellowship with you, to dwell in your presence. We know, in Christ, that we dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives because you have been good to us.
We praise you. We love you. We thank you for Jesus. It’s in His name that we pray. Amen.
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