Summary: A look at the 15th Psalm.
In Psalm 15, David begins with a question in verse 1, which he answers in the verses that follow: "Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?" The question which David poses has to do with living in the presence of God. "How may I as your child live daily in your presence?" David asks. The reason he asked this question was that he understood well the power that comes to one’s life when they live with a daily awareness of the presence of God.
David’s understanding of the power of God’s presence is illustrated by the way he phrases his question.
David understood that living with the realization of God’s presence in my life has the power to ...
A. Provide me with a sense of direction in life - v. la
The word for "sanctuary" literally means "tent," and refers to the tent that David pitched for the ark of the covenant to be placed in.
A tent is a symbol for something transient and temporary. A tent is easily struck, it is a moveable house, the very symbol of pilgrimage in the Old Testament. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived in tents although they were wealthy men and could easily have built palaces to live in instead. They were content, however, to live in tents, so that they might be ready to move in a moment’s notice at the call of God.
Likewise, we must realize that our lives are transient and temporary. If we are going to make the most of the time we have in this life, we must pursue God’s presence, knowing that as we do, we will have His guidance and direction. Living daily with an awareness of the presence of God provides us with a sense of direction in our pilgrimage on earth.
B. Provide me with a sense of security in life - v. 1b
A hill is a symbol for something permanent. Indeed, David’s desire was not for the ark of the covenant to be kept forever in a tent. He wanted to eventually house the ark in a temple on mount Moriah.
In speaking of the "holy hill" of God, David was referring to the fact that living daily with an awareness of God’s presence in my life provides me with a sense of security concerning my one day being with the Lord in heaven.
Living my life with a daily awareness of God’s presence allows me to be directed in my pilgrimage today here on earth and to be secure in my expectation of being with God one day in heaven.
Well, how can I live with a daily awareness of God’s presence? Let’s note what David tells us here about the characteristics of one who persists in the presence of God.
1. His Walk - v. 2a
If one is going to daily dwell in the Lord’s presence, his walk must be "blameless." The background of the word used here for "blameless" is most interesting. If an Old Testament worshipper wanted to bring a special burnt offering to God, he would find a full-grown ram, one of his prize breeding stock, the very best in his flock, to offer. He would run his hand and eye over it to make sure that it had no hidden blemish. He would take it to the priest, who would also give it a careful examination. The ram would then be slain and the priest would expose all of its inward parts, sharply watching out for any imperfection. Only a perfect sacrifice was acceptable to be offered to God.
It is this process of examination to which this word "blameless" refers.
That which David tells us here then, is that if one is going to daily dwell in the reality of the Lord’s presence, he must daily examine himself to make sure there is nothing in his life that would cause him to be "unclean" in the sight of God (1 Corinthians 11:28a).
Taking things a step further, we must also insist that just as the sacrifice of the Old Testament worshipper was examined not only by the worshipper, but also by the priest, we must be careful to not only examine our lives daily, but to allow our Great High Priest, Jesus, to examine our lives daily (Psalm 139:23-24).
At this point, however, the analogy breaks down. The wonderful difference being that while the Old Testament animal would be rejected upon discovery of a blemish, you and I, upon discovery of any blemish of sin in our lives can submit to the cleansing of our Great High Priest (1 John 1:9).
A member of a major non-Christian religion said to a missionary to India, "Tell me one thing your religion can offer the people of India that mine can’t." The missionary thought for a moment and replied, "Forgive¬ness! Forgiveness!"