We don’t know the events In David’s life that motivated him to write many of his psalms. We do know that the inspiration of God was with him during his writings; however we often only have hints of what actually had happened. In Psalm 15, we can make some more educated conclusions concerning David’s motives.
We could entitle this psalm, “The Guest of God”. This is exactly what this psalm deals with – who can be a guest of God? Who can approach His presence? David may have been thinking about this while he was a fugitive and could not approach the place of the Lord. It may have been when the Ark of the Covenant was moved into the city of Jerusalem and placed in a tent. It could have been written toward the end of his life when he offered sacrifices to God on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. That threshing floor would later become the location of the temple of God.
Whatever the occasion, David explored the question, “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” In awe, David began to think on the moral, ethical, and spiritual requirements that the Holy God might require for entrance.
David did know the requirements: walk blameless, do righteousness, speak the truth from your heart, have no slander on your tongue, do no wrong to your neighbor, cast no slurs, honor those that fear God, keep your oaths, do not make money at another’s expense, and do not accept a bribe against the innocent. David knew that if he kept all these things, then he could enter into the Lord’s sanctuary.
After reading that list of requirements, one might ask; “Is that all?” “Why don’t we ask for the world while you’re at it?” Yet, within these five short verses, David, through the workings of the inspiration of God, has touched on the real blessing that comes in Jesus Christ. David knew the answer to the question, but the problem of HOW to achieve it could not be satisfactorily answered.
When we read the requirements in this psalm, they appear unreasonable – impossible, and they are! No man or woman, alone, can satisfactorily please God. In the age of the Law of Moses, any person who approached the presence of God in the tabernacle or temple did so with fear and trembling. The sacrifices of animals only temporarily atoned for the sins of the people. God’s righteous anger had not been appeased. But today, because of the saving sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can approach with “boldness” and “confidence”!
In Hebrews 12:18-24, the writer described two mountains. Mt. Sinai was the scene of smoke, fire, storm, and thunder. There Moses said. “I am trembling with fear.” But, on Mt. Zion is seen joy, rejoicing, a great assembly of angels, the church of the first-born, Jesus the mediator, and God the Father and righteous judge. What a difference!
Yes, David could answer the question as to who could approach the Lord, but the “how” would come many centuries later. In Jesus Christ came the news that sinful man CAN be rejoined to the perfect and Holy God. What was a mystery to David and so many others – is the clear “Good News” today.
Think about the infinite blessings. At any time, day or night, we, as children of God, can approach the eternal God, Consider the wonder of that. We would probably be barred from many of the homes of the rich and famous of this world; but we can enter into the presence of the Eternal God at anytime!
In addition, we approach God, not as servants or His people, but as His children. Because we accepted His offer of love in Jesus Christ, God willingly adopted us and added us into His family. As His children, we are eligible to receive the eternal inheritance that is waiting for all members of His family.
David closed his psalm by saying, “He who does these things will never be shaken”. Again, David touched on a universal need of all humanity – security. All of us want to stand firm. Today, millions of people surrender to despair, because their lives are adrift. But Jesus said, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give then eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” “The world and its desires pass away, but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” Yes, we can truly answer David’s question, “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” Jim Shelburn