For September 2022, I’m trying to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:
- What is this Psalm about?
- What does this Psalm teach about God?
- How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.
15 days in, here’s Psalm 15:
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.
What is this Psalm about?
This Psalm is a simple song or poem of worship – describing the kind of person who will ultimately dwell with God. It’s a high standard – perhaps impossible, we might say – but it’s also just about imaginable. That’s difficult for us to imagine. The practicalities are tricky – doing no wrong, casting no slur, being righteous and speaking truth – but the rewards are intriguing. As well as dwelling in God’s sacred tent, on his holy mountain, ‘whoever does these things will never be shaken’ (v5b). Psalm 15 imagines a way of life that sounds good, as part of an inhabiting of God’s tent and holy mountain that are more than good.
What does this Psalm teach about God?
The Lord, a title for God, is central to this Psalm. Firstly, it clearly teaches, in a way that will take many more verses and chapters and reflections to understand, that God dwells somewhere. The tent echoes back, perhaps, to the tabernacle described in such detail in numbers, whilst the mountain pops up throughout scripture.We also learn that God will have other dwell with him. From a Christian perspective this could be seen as describing Jesus – but in the same breath we would have to note that that it describes the righteousness that Jesus gives his people, allowing them to dwell on the mountain. If that is so, then the lending and not accepting bribes (v5a) is a wonderful hint of the riches that Christ shares, freely.
How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I think this Psalm does two things for God’s people today. Firstly, it encourages us that we will one day dwell with God – in what one imagines might be a spacious tent, on an awesome mountain. Second, it sketches out some ethical imperatives, some signs of that future dwelling that we can bring into our dwelling today.
A Prayer from Psalm 15
Lord, I long to dwell with you, on your mountain and in your tent. Show me how to live a life that echoes the life of Jesus, that I might show the world a little of what it means to dwell with you. Help me to remember, when I am shaken, that you promise that one day, we will not be shaken. Amen.