Summary: How can I have a genuinely intimate relationship with God? Love my neighbor.
Series: Building Blocks of Community
Title: To Know God, Love People
Text: Psalm 15:1-5
Truth: How can I have a genuinely intimate relationship with God? Love my neighbor.
Aim: To strengthen church fellowship.
Life Question: How does building community with others strengthen my relationship with God?
Many years ago Queen Elizabeth came to the United States. She visited Los Angeles. As you can imagine she had an entourage of cars, but she wanted to see what common life in American looked like. The Queen was being driven through a neighborhood that was showing some signs of poverty. It intrigued her. To everyone’s surprise she had the driver stop the car. She got out of her large, luxury automobile and walked up to a house at random. Standing at the door, she knocked. A woman was home. When the woman opened the door she recognized that standing on her doorstep, face-to-face, was the Queen of England surrounded by her security detail and royal entourage!
Being a typical American, she had no knowledge or understanding of royal protocol. She did not know how to act in the presence of royalty. In her surprised joy that the Queen of England was at her home, she threw her arms around the Queen and gave her a good American bear hug! The security detail and royal entourage gasped, but she was not rebuked because of the obvious joy demonstrated by her appearance and actions.
Suppose there is a God who is completely holy, totally good, and all powerful and wise. He is so large He fills the universe. He is majestic and glorious. With a simple word He speaks and 100 million galaxies leap into existence. Maybe the most wondrous of all His characteristics is that He wants you to know Him as much as possible for a finite human being. Would that not be the most radical, life transforming truth any person could experience? How would small, sinful men approach such a God so as to know Him? What kind of people would we have to be to have a genuinely intimate relationship with God? This is the question David proposes in Psalm 15.
King David is the author of this particular psalm. By his life and his words David demonstrated a consuming zeal for God. Both the Old Testament and New Testament describe David as a man after the heart of God. But we know that he sinned enormously when he committed adultery with married Bathsheba, then conspired to cover up his sin instead of confessing it, and, finally, orchestrated the death of her husband Uriah, a faithful soldier in David’s army. That may explain why David says in this psalm if you want to really be close to God you must treat people right. If you want communion with God then do not harm your communion with people. If you want to love God then you must love people too. How can I have a genuinely intimate relationship with God? Love my neighbor.
Bible expositors break this psalm into three parts: question (v. 1), answer (vv. 2-5a), and assurance (v. 5c). Let us begin with the question in verse one.
I. THE QUESTION (PS. 15:1)
“Lord, who can dwell in Your tent? Who can live on Your holy mountain?”
The above is one question asked two ways. This is called Hebrew parallelism. The second line restates the first line. Sometimes it advances the thought. Sometimes it restates the thought by way of contrast. Here David is asking, “How must I live so that I enjoy the fullness of fellowship with God?” He is not asking for a clarification of justification: “What must I do to be saved?” He is not asking, “How does a sinner become right with a holy God?” (The answer, of course, is to repent of sin and surrender your life to Jesus Christ as your God.) Instead, this is a question of sanctification. How does a saved sinner stay in close fellowship with a holy God?
The tent refers to the sanctuary Israel built for God in the wilderness. The tent housed the Ark of the Covenant. The holy mountain refers to the hill in Jerusalem where later David moved the Ark, and afterward his son, Solomon, built the temple upon the hill.
Notice that David wants to stay or dwell in the tent. We know from the Bible and the custom of that day that guests were protected and their needs were provided for when they dwelt with people in the community. Dwell also reminds us that God’s presence dwelt in the tent in the midst of His people in the wilderness.
David is asking for more than protection and provision from God; he wants to be in the very presence of God. But David’s longing goes beyond the impermanence of a tent. He wants to live with God. The question is, “What is required for me to remain in a close relationship with this magnificent, awe-inspiring God?”