What would I need to do to live in God's presence?
That is the question asked by David in this psalm. The structure of Psalm 15 is very straightforward. It begins with a question, followed by an answer and ends with a short concluding statement.
This psalm uses a simple three part structure: Question, Answer and Conclusion.
The number seven is featured prominently by the use of seven positive actions and seven negative actions.
The central place of honor, or rather dishonor, is given to the negative use of the tongue. As James 3:6 warns us:
And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
The question is written in parallel form which is a common poetic technique in the Psalms. In other words, the concept is stated twice with slightly different words. Who can dwell in God's sanctuary? Who can live on His holy hill? Both of these are literally referring to God's temple which was built on a hill, but since (as far as I know) the temple was not used as a hotel, figuratively they are really asking, How can I live constantly in the presence of God?
What would it take to stay continually in a right relationship with God. How can someone remain so close to God that it is like dwelling always in His temple?
David's answer is given in six parallel statements:
- Pure Actions (Psalm 15:2): Have a blameless walk; Do what is right
- Pure Speech (Psalm 15:2-3): Speak the truth; Don't slander
- Pure Relationships (Psalm 15:3): Do no wrong to your neighbor; Don't speak badly about others
- Pure Friends (Psalm 15:4a): Despise evil men; Honor those who fear God
- Pure Promises (Psalm 15:4b): Keep your promises; Even when it hurts
- Pure Finances (Psalm 15:5): Lend money with no interest; Do not accept bribes
David's final statement promises that if we live this way we cannot be shaken.
This psalm leads me to two applications. First it causes me to evaluate my own life. Am I living a life that will draw me closer or farther from God? How am I doing in each of these six areas. Where am I weakest?
Second I recognize that it is impossible to perfectly live this kind of life. Who lives a completely blameless life? Even David failed royally (pun intended) when it came to pure relationships with Bathsheba and her husband.
Thank God, He made a way for us to approach Him through Jesus! But salvation through Christ does not guarantee a daily close walk with God. Salvation opens the way to God, but daily obedience enables a close and growing relationship.
Lord, draw us to be people who live such lives that we are daily growing closer to You!