John T. Willis

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Who May Dwell on Yahweh's Holy Hill?--Psalm 15

The Hebrew Bible contains several Entrance Liturgies: Psalms 15; 24; Isaiah 33:14-16. When worshippers approach Yahweh to worship him, they are not to approach him casually or nonchalantly. Yahweh is the creator, sustainer, king, Lord of the Universe, controller of everything. Yahweh deserves our hearts, our time, our service, our obedience, our worship. Thus, when one approaches Yahweh in worship, it is important to prepare one's heart to honor him appropriately. Psalm 15 is very short and very simple. It falls into two parts.

I. Worshippers ask a Priest or Worship Leader the proper characteristics of a worshipper. Psalm 15:1.
    a. First, the worshippers address Yahweh directly, "O Lord." 15:1aa.
    b. Worshippers want to be in Yahweh's presence, so they ask: Who may abide in your tent? Here, Yahweh's tent is apparently the Jerusalem temple. 2 Samuel 7:2, 6 states that when Moses under Yahweh's instructions built the ark, he put it in a tent, and the Israelites traveled from place to place carrying the tent and the ark. In the days of Solomon, Yahweh told Solomon to build a temple in Jerusalem to be the dwelling place of the ark. See 1 Kings 8:1-13. 15:1ab.
   c. Stated in a slightly different way in synonymous parallelism, the worshippers ask: Who may dwell on your holy hill? Yahweh's "holy hill" is undoubtedly Zion, where the temple stood on the top. See Psalms 2:6; 3:4. The verbs "abide" and "dwell" suggest that the worshippers were not anxious to go to the temple and leave as quickly as possible. Rather, they loved to spend time with Yahweh to worship him. Psalm 84:1-4 emphasizes this truth. 15:1b.

II. The Priest under Yahweh's Guidance give the qualities of Worshippers. Psalm 15:2-5.
     a. It is interesting that the qualities for worship fall into TEN instructions, which calls to mind the Ten Commandments. In the similar text in Psalm 24:3-6, there the psalmist offers THREE instructions.
     b. Instruction 1: True Worshippers are people who walk blamelessly and do what is right. This does not mean they are without sin, but they attempt to live faithfully to God. See 1 Thessalonians 2:10; 3:13; 5:23; Philippians 2:15; 3:6. Doing what is right is a challenge. To DO is quite different from SAYING. It is easy to say something; it is quite a different thing to actually do what someone says. See Titus 1:16. 15:2a.
    c. Instruction 2: True Worshippers speak the truth from their heart. Worship is a HEART issue. Truth is genuineness in contrast to hypocrisy, subterfuge, deception. One of the greatest problems among all kinds of people is pretending one thing when intending something entirely different. 15:2b.
    d. Instruction 3: True Worshippers do not slander with their tongue. Unfortunately, it is quite common for so-called Christian people to slander other people even in their own church. Often, there are "slander clubs" who meet regularly to study the Bible, but it is not long until these people slander other people in the church. 15:3a.
   e. Instruction 4: True Worshippers do no evil to their friends. All human beings tend to be self-centered. From that perspective, they desire to be better, more wealthy, more powerful than other people. In that process, they often do evil to their friends when they find themselves in an advantageous position. Doing evil to others is contrary to God's will. 15:3b.
   f. Instruction 5: True Worshippers do not take up a reproach against their neighbors. It is very easy to hurt other people by gossiping behind the back of their neighbors to attempt to hurt them. All of us are sinners, but we always point our fingers against other people and pretend we are all right. 15:3c.
   g. Instruction 6: True Worshippers despise the wicked. In our society, we often APPROVE the evil deeds of wicked people. Paul gives a list of sins, and then emphasizes: "They know God's decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die--yet they not only DO them but EVEN APPLAUD others who practice them." Romans 1:28-32 [The quotation is in verse 32]. 15:4a.
   h. Instruction 7: True Worshippers honor those who fear the Lord. To fear the Lord is to stand in awe of him, to hold Yahweh in the highest regard, to revere Yahweh. Naturally, a true worshipper honors those who fear Yahweh. 15:4b.
   i. Instruction 8: True Worshippers stand by their oath even to their hurt. When a person makes a promise, one must hold faithfully to that promise EVEN IF circumstances arise which would hurt that person. Being faithful to God is much more important than for a person to receive all of God's gifts and fail to be faithful to one's promises. 15:4c.
   j. Instruction 9: True Worshippers do not lend money at interest. Often poor and needy people needs the support and help of more fortunate people. When we give poor people money, it would be a sin to demand that person to restore the money we gave them with interest. This whole principle is based on the attitude of the heart. Often we put money far above people. 15:5a.
   k. Instruction 10: True Worshippers do not take a bribe against the innocent. Yahweh says to his people in the days of Amos: "For I know how many are your transgressions,
                                                      and how great are your sins--
                                               you who afflict the righteous,
                                                      who take a bribe,
                                               and push aside the needy in the gate."
Greed motivates many people to give and receive bribes to get what they want. This is a sin. This is a heart issue. 15:5b.
   l. Psalm 15 concludes by assuring TRUE WORSHIPPERS that "those who do these things shall NEVER BE MOVED." Often, it may seem that wicked people will prevail. But our God is faithful, and in one way or another, Yahweh will sustain us in the most difficult circumstances. 15:5c.

Share YOUR experiences and failures and shortcomings and thoughts and fears with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


Post a Comment

<< Home