Who can dwell with God?
God has very high standards for who can live with Him. And that is what we are going to consider from Psalm 15. In this short psalm, author King David asks the Lord: “What kind of person may live with you and be in Your holy presence?” David describes the person who can dwell with the Lord in six couplets or pairs of statements in this Psalm.
- The One Whose Character is Blameless: The Hebrew word for “blameless” means “whole” or “sound.” It does not mean sinless. Instead, it refers to a person whose character is upright in all areas and who is fully committed to obeying the Lord. Not someone who seems honorable in public but when alone is a very different person. Simply put, they do what is right. When they are faced with a choice between doing what pleases the Lord and doing what pleases themselves, the kind of person they are, the desires they have cultivated, the thoughts they allow themselves to entertain… compel this person to choose to do what is right—to do what pleases the Lord—even when it is costly or painful.
- The One Who Speaks the Truth: The person who can live with the Lord speaks truth on the one hand and does not slander anyone on the other. Their speech is always truthful yet never slanderous. Again, the idea goes deeper than simple behavior and speaks of the character of the person. A person who speaks the truth is a trustworthy person. We might say they are a “straight-shooter” – you can trust what they say. All of us know people we don’t trust. We may love them, but we don’t trust them. But when the person who pleases the Lord speaks, they are completely trusted because they speak “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” The second part of the couplet says that they do not slander people. Slanderous statements are often wrong and ignorant, but they may be true statements which are intended to harm or damage someone by sharing them with others inappropriately. When you slander someone, when you gossip about them, it says far more about you than it does them. It reveals what is in your heart: an arrogant, judgmental, and unloving spirit. There is a strong pull to justify slander because the person we are speaking about has hurt us or is so cocky it makes us sick or is a hypocrite who we want to expose. But the kind of person who pleases the Lord and can dwell with Him does not slander anyone.
- The One Who Loves Others: At first glance, this requirement of this verse doesn’t seem very demanding. But keep in mind that the Lord defines “neighbor” as broader than those you live near and perhaps rarely even see much less know. The kind of man or woman who meets the qualifications to live in God’s presence treats everyone—whether known to them personally or not—as those who have been made in the image of God and thus worthy of respect. They do not see others superficially, judging them by their appearance or status but instead by who God has made them to be. Therefore, they have a godly love for them that shows up in how they treat them. They seek to protect rather than destroy their reputations. They look for ways to help them improve their lives and character rather than tearing them down. They refuse to harm them in any way: physically, emotionally, or spiritually. In short, they do them no evil.
- The One Who Shares God’s Values: The requirement here is a choosing of allegiances. Are you on God’s side or on the side of His enemies? The second part of the couplet in verse 4 is that they “honor those who fear the Lord.” Perhaps the question to ask is, “Do you see people as they are or do you judge primarily by appearances?” If our allegiance is wholeheartedly with the Lord, then we will honor those who fear Him.
- The One Who Lives with Integrity: The person described here has a deep sense of integrity whose commitment to holiness is greater than his commitment to temporal self-interest. How you respond reveals the kind of person you are. It reveals what is most important to you. The kind of person who can live with God honors the Lord by honoring the vows that he or she makes.
- The One Who Does Not Love Money: The prohibition here is against putting money ahead of people. It’s a temptation that leads to all kinds of sins including and usury, bribery, theft, and even stinginess. How does the man who desires to live with God handle his financial relationships with others? With justice and compassion – the way God wants him or her to.
- The truth of Psalm 15 is that it is possible to dwell with the Lord. He could have shut out sinner likes us but He didn’t. Instead, God delights in it and makes it possible.
- Being in the presence of the Lord is the greatest thing that you and I can ever imagine or experience.