The Book of Psalms Chapter Fifteen Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
You Will Never Be Shaken
Verse 1: "O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill?" One way of looking at Psalm 15 is to see it as a sobering reminder of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. We are given a set of rules that should cause the apparently nicest in humanity to worry about their standing with God. The "tent" here is a reference to the Tabernacle, the large, literal tent that accompanied the Israelites during the nation's many years of wilderness travels. And the question is asked: In the place of God, His "holy hill," which in its true form is likely outside of this universe altogether—who among us is worthy to enter such a place and be with God? In later centuries, Saul of Tarsus, who was to become Paul the Apostle, felt he had fulfilled the Law, and by association, this Psalm of David. He made the mistake of thinking that his commendable religious education and high standing in the community was the same as pleasing the Father. Romans Chapter 7 reveals his struggle, and note that God has a way of revealing us to ourselves, holding up a sort of spiritual "mirror" that shows us who we really are. As part of that process, here's what Paul discovered, reflected in Romans 7:18—"I know that nothing good dwells in me." He was shocked, as we also should be. Paul had studied God's commandments during his entire life, testifying of them in Romans 7:16, "I agree with the Law that it is good." But the Holy Spirit pointed out to Him, as seen in 7:7-8, that he had failed to keep the Tenth Commandment, which clearly states: "Thou Shalt Not Covet." Coveting—If we even WANT something that is not ours, we have broken the Tenth Commandment and are sinners before God... And as such, in and of ourselves, we are not able to "dwell on (His) holy hill." We need God's help to do what He is asking us to do.
Verse 2: "He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart." David here concurs with the later-in-time words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:28, that if you even THINK a sinful thought, in God's sight, it's as though you actually committed the sin! To be sinless, the person must not only speak the truth outwardly, but also "in his heart," as seen in this Psalm. What if we say one thing and think another? If so, we are not people of truth; we are liars in His sight. How can we demand truth from others when our own thoughts betray us? There are many in the world who want to be nice to others, and yet as we think about people everywhere, thoughts come to all that would be hurtful to speak out loud. Jesus taught His disciples, and through them, He teaches us, assuring ordinary people like you and me that "another Helper... the Spirit of truth... dwells with you and will be in you" (John 14:16-17). When you place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, God's Holy Spirit is planted in the center of your being and He brings changes to us, like an excellent home-remodeler; changes that before seemed impossible. Note that what He brings to our lives is simply WONDERFUL! He is God, and He really loves you and me. Read 2 Corinthians 3:6—"The letter (the Law) kills but the Spirit gives life."
Verse 3: "He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend;" Our focus as human beings has often been on the way that WE are treated. If our neighbor, friend or somebody else says or does something we find personally insulting, our first response is likely to be embarrassed, and then comes anger at the person who said or did it. But note the emphasis here. God's way of looking at things differs from ours. It's not about what is done to you, but instead the focus is on what YOU do to others. How do we treat people? How will we respond when that person does something seemingly "unacceptable?" Do we ALWAYS answer others, even our enemies, with integrity, kind actions and loving truth from deep inside our very being? Or do we answer with anger? To live on God's "holy hill" is impossible—except that the Lord entered humanity and took our sins upon Himself while dying on our behalf. He prepared the ground, which we are, and plants the precious Seed of God deep within those who will have faith in Him and what He has done. The Holy Spirit is ours when we trust in the Lord.
Verse 4: "In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; he swears to his own hurt and does not change;" You can sum up the first portion of this verse in relation to all of Scripture, with the words: "Hate the sin but love the sinner." 1st Peter 2:17 is clear that we are to "Honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God..." and reading David's words will bring us to the same conclusion. Look at life and see that complete honesty possibly will personally hurt the honest person and that person's reputation. People don't like the truth, which is why the phrase, "he swears to his own hurt" is included here. Further, we aren't to change our "tune," even when it seems safer to say or do something else other than the truth. Our Lord is God and we trust in Him to bring ultimate good out of our lives, even when we might think that honesty is not the best policy for some situations. Needing help, we pray continually, and the Holy Spirit who lives within, will lead us in the way we should go. Through faith in the Lord, we belong to God now; not just to ourselves.
Verse 5: "He does not put out his money at interest, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken." Looking around the world and considering its various cultures, you find that almost everything people do is with the expectation of a return on some investment. People make a friend because they need a friend. You take a job and do the work, not out of altruism, but because you expect to receive money or some other profit when payday arrives. But here is David encouraging us to NOT lend at interest, and we find Jesus in Luke 6:35, telling us to "lend, expecting NOTHING in return." You lend your money, you lend your time. And note there is a certain FREEDOM in lending and not expecting to be repaid... 1) You are far more likely to praise and thank God if they do repay you, and 2) You are far less likely to resent them when they don't. David concludes: Don't take bribes, don't pervert your honest testimony about anyone, especially if they are innocent of what they're charged with... and if you live your life in such a manner, you will find that God helps you do it, along with healing your anger and giving you joy inside. As it says here, you "will never be shaken." Praise God.
Father, I look at my life and see that I am not worthy to live on Your "holy hill." But Your Son, my Lord, IS worthy, and He has given His life for me. I confess my sin and place my faith in Jesus Christ. Please forgive me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.