O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbour, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honours those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.
David was very aware of the majesty and holiness of God. He had been called from keeping sheep to be God’s king over his chosen people and the passage to kingship in the years that Saul remained king were challenging and difficult as he lived in the ‘now but not yet’, anointed but not on the throne. Further once he was acclaimed king over all Israel although his reign was singularly blessed and resulted in great and precious promises (see 2 Samuel 7) his latter years were deeply marred by his relationship with Bathsheba(2 Samuel 11) and the subsequent fallout from his sin.
He was thus very aware of the standards that God required set out in the above Psalm which is noted as one of his. We may be tempted on reading these words to ask how David could write like this. Was he, as it were, standing back from his own situation and writing as a warning to others, ourselves included? I think not! For sinner that he was, especially in the Bathsheba incident and its consequences, he had the surprising and gracious words of God delivered through the Prophet Nathan “The LORD has put away your sin; you shall not die.” 2 Samuel 12.13.
As a result of this he knew that he could indeed ‘sojourn in (God’s) tent’ for as a forgiven sinner he was able to meet the requirements he understood were necessary for such sojourning (dwelling) as set out in the Psalm.
This should thrill us who live post the Cross, for at the Cross ‘the burden of our sins was rolled away’ and like David we are counted fit for God’s presence and it should also thrill us that this reveals the nature of God across history, ‘not wanting any to perish but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3.9
There are many outcomes from this realisation but let me highlight just two.
- As forgiven sinners we are called to strive for holiness and Psalm 15 is a good place to start as we evaluate ourselves against God’s standards.
- As forgiven sinners we need to share the message of God’s grace and mercy with others. It is too big to keep to ourselves!
Let us be sure, that by the grace of God and the power of his Holy Spirit we are, as it were, ‘dwelling on his holy hill’, with all that that entails.