Psalm 15 | To Be Like You
DAVID GOFF | November 14, 2020
Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;
He who does not backbite with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
But he honors those who fear the Lord;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
He who does not put out his money at usury,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
Just over two years ago, our family decided to move into a new home. We loved our previous home and the almost 15 years we spent there raising our children. We had exceptional neighbors, and our house provided us plenty of room to spread out.
However, towards the last few years, the house began to show its age. Walls we used to regularly re-paint now had pinholes and smudges all over them. Wooden floors that used to be shiny and smooth were now dull and scratched. And the neat and tidy attic had become a graveyard for abandoned birds’ nests.
What had happened over those years can be summed up in one word, “neglect.” We neglected to put in the effort to keep our house well-maintained and up to date. And it showed!
Similarly, we can neglect our relationship with God. And it too will show in our lives. You see, when we lose our zeal to be more like Jesus, our sin creates a barrier - interrupting fellowship with Him. As children of God who long to be in His presence, this should trouble us.
The good news is that Psalm 15 can help us move from neglect to being more like Jesus. The Psalmist, David, does this by showing us how we can become more like Christ:
Reflect the Character of the Lord
The Psalm begins with David asking, “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?” (Psalm 15:1) By these two questions and throughout the Psalms, we see David’s heart to live a life pleasing to the Lord.
In Psalm 42:2, it says that David thirsted after God, and he eagerly desired to appear before Him. His life-long pursuit was to be in the presence and fellowship of the Lord. Therefore, he needed God’s instruction to guide him in his sanctification.
The Lord responds to David’s heart-felt questions by revealing the character of a godly person through five illustrative examples:
1. Upright Lifestyle (2a)
The first character example we see is of a person whose lifestyle is pleasing to the Lord. We see this in their walk and their righteous deeds. In the original language, the word for uprightly is Ta-mim, which means without defect or blameless. In other words, no accusation can stick against this person.
Proverbs 22:1 says that “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth; Favor is better than silver and gold.” This is a person whose character is on display by his conduct and through the good things he does. This person is said to be rich in God’s favor.
2. Righteous Words (2b-3a)
Secondly, the words of this person’s mouth please the Lord. We see this first by the words spoken within their heart. Before the words form on their lips - they form truthfully within their hearts. This is because the heart is where the battle of our words first takes place.
Solomon said in Proverbs 4:23; we must guard our hearts for everything in our life flows from it. This person guards their heart, and as a result, there is no backbiting or other symptoms of a poisoned heart. They desire that all the words of their mouth please the Lord.
3. Love for Neighbors (3b)
The next character attribute shows this person has a love for their neighbors. We may feel like this attribute is low on God’s priority list. But, Jesus’ teaching on “loving your neighbor as yourself “is stressed by its abundant use (eight times) in the Bible. In fact, in Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus’ words teach us that loving your neighbor and the First Commandment is what all the Law and the Prophets hang on.
Therefore, we see in Psalm 15 that this person does no evil to their neighbor. Nor do they wish evil upon their neighbor. When we genuinely love our neighbors, we will not sin against them.
4. Godly Worldview (4a)
Also, this person possesses a godly worldview. He sees things as God sees them. We see this in verse 4 where it declares that this type of person despises the vile and “he honors those who fear the Lord.” (15:4) He shows a godly hatred of sin and esteems those who fear the Lord.
Tim Challies attests to the importance of a godly worldview with these words:
Discernment itself is rooted in the understanding that there is good and bad, that there are God’s ways and other ways. A secular worldview, on the other hand, teaches that truth exists along a continuum. Truth is subjective; it is relative.
When we look at the world around us, do we interpret what we see with a gospel lens? Or instead, do we idolize athletes, musicians, or politicians who flaunt their open unbelief and sin? The person we see described in verse 4 has a godly worldview that reflects God’s holiness with great clarity.
5. Integrity (4b-5a)
The last characteristic of this person is their integrity. This person can be counted on to keep their word and treat others fairly at all times. In verse 4, we see they can be counted on to keep their word even when costly.
Imagine if you were a contractor for a local construction company, and you provided a quote for building a wood deck. The price was fixed and included everything: labor, materials, and profit. Both you and your customer signed this agreement. What do you do when the day comes to purchase the wood - and the price at your wood supplier has increased dramatically? Do you break the contract - or do you keep your word and complete the job? A man without integrity may justify, in his mind, breaking a promise when the costs get too high. Yet, the person of integrity does the job, as agreed, keeping his word. Even if it means taking a loss. This passage also mentions how this person’s integrity translates to their business deals - whether it be lending or accepting financial bribes. The person of integrity puts people before profit and justice before corruption.
Here then, is the picture of those persons who please and dwell with the Lord.
Rely on the Power of Christ
So, as we meditate on these attributes, you may have mixed feelings. On the one hand, you may aspire to these characteristics. You want them to be true of you. You desire to live a life pleasing to God. But, on the other hand, you may feel defeated because you have neglected or have never pursued being like Christ.
The good news is that there is one who embodies these attributes fully. His name is Jesus Christ. And not only did Jesus live a perfect life, fulfilling all the requirements of the law and prophets - but he also did that for you and me. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, it says that He become sin - who knew no sin that we might become His righteousness. By dying on a cross, he gave his life as a payment in full for our sins.
By rising from the dead, three days later, he showed the world his resurrection power. When we accept His gift of salvation in faith - we can share in the righteousness of Christ. It’s not anything we do - it is all about what He has done for us.
And when we experience this New Birth, his Spirit indwells in us—sanctifying us and empowering us to be more like Jesus! What we couldn’t do before - now becomes possible with Christ in Us.
When we neglect our relationship with God, our sin creates a barrier interrupting fellowship with Him. But when we reflect upon the character of Christ and embrace his resurrection power, we can dwell in His holy hill and “shall never be moved.” (15:5)
David Goff is the Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church, Washington MI