In addition, I would encourage you to turn the Psalm into a prayer. God loves to hear His word returned to Him in prayer. When you do this, however, make sure you do it with Christ in the center. Do not forget the gospel when praying the Psalms. What I mean by that is don’t pray to be a better Pharisee, instead pray with your eyes set upon the grace of God in Christ Jesus. As we study Psalm 15 this morning, I think you will all see what I mean. So let us know turn to Psalm 15, read it, pray and then study the living Word of God.
“A Psalm of David.
1O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
3who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the LORD;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.”
Desires of Your Heart
As we see again this week, this Psalm is written by King David. King David was the second King of Israel. The first King was Saul. These two kings were drastically different. Saul was a self-centered King and David was God-centered. Listen to what the Prophet Samuel says to King Saul in 1 Samuel 13:14, “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” The difference between Saul and David were their hearts.
And in Psalm 15:1 we see a glimpse into David’s heart. In verse 1 we see David posing the question, “O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?” Here we see David’s desire to be with the Lord, to be in his presence, both daily and forever. This was David's heart. Just to get a better glimpse of this, listen to a few more words from David found in other Psalms.
In Psalm 4:7 David sings, “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine about.” And in Psalm 18:1, David says, “I love you, O Lord, my strength.” In Psalm 27:4, “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”
Remember, David had it all. He was a King of the Lord’s people. Sure he had days of sorrow, but he was powerful, rich, handsome, athletic, surrounded by servants and solders and living in a palace. Yet, all of this was nothing compared to his Lord.
And David is not alone in this desire. Moses, as he stood upon Mt. Sinai says in Exodus 33:18, “Please show me your glory.” The Sons of Korah in Psalm 84:10 sing out, “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” The Apostle Paul in Philippines 1:21 says, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” In fact, even Christ himself, in a sense, expressed this desire. John 17:5, “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” For each one of these persons, Christ included, the greatest desire of their heart is a desire to be with God.
The question this morning is, is this YOUR desire? Is the Lord your greatest treasure? Do you see His courts as far better than this life? Do you long to dwell upon his holy hill? Do you desire God? I fear, for some of you this morning, you do not. You would rather have the things of this world over the presence of the Lord. You would rather pursue earthly treasures that are fleeting at the expense of God who is eternal. You daily choose to sell your soul to gain the World. Many of us display the characteristics of King Saul and not of King David.
The very last book of the Bible, Revelation, in the very last chapter, chapter 22, in the second to last verse, verse 20 says, “Come, Lord Jesus!” This is to be the desire of a Christian's heart. Is it your desire? It should be, it was David’s.
The Lord’s Hill/The Lord’s Way
The second thing that I want to draw your attention to is that not only does David have a heart for God, he also has a head for God. David desires to be in the presence of the Lord, and who does he go to figure out the answer? The Lord.
David is not a fool. David understands that God is the one who determines the way into his presence. God has authority over all creation, and God has authority over who can come into his courts. God does not submit to anything or anyone. So if you want to know the pathway into his presence, there is only one place to go, the Lord.
Perhaps you are thinking, what is Phil focusing on this? The reason is because, even though David is not a fool, the world is. I guarantee that if all of you walk out of this room today and go and find some random person on the street and ask them how do you get to Heaven, they will all have an answer. And I will also guarantee you that the vast majority of them have not received that answer from the Lord, but have instead received it from their feelings, their culture, books, friends, movies, etc. The towns we live in are filled with people who think they know how to get to heaven, yet they have never opened up this book to find out what God says. If you want to know how to get to heaven there is only one way to find out, the Word of God. Just as it says in 2 Timothy 3:15, “from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” So let’s do that right now, let us get acquainted with the sacred writings.
He Who Walks Blameless
Starting in verse 2 we see the pathway that is laid out for us to reach heaven. It says that we must walk blamelessly, do what is right, speak the truth in our heart, don’t slander, do no evil to our neighbor, no reproach against our friend, despise people doing evil deeds, honor those who fear the Lord, be true to our word, lend money without interest, and never take a bribe.
So there you go, just do those things and you can get to heaven. Everyone have a great week, we will see you next Sunday....obviously, I am kidding.
Let me ask you, is this list correct? Can we actually get to heaven if we do these things? Absolutely. It is the truth of God. If we are blameless, righteous before God we will go to heaven. Righteousness is a requirement. So there is absolutely no problem with this list; however, there is a problem, and the problem is with us.
Last week we studied Psalm 14. What did Psalm 14 say? Psalm 14:2-3, “The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” As I said, the problem is not the list, the problem is with us. We do not have the ability to fulfill the demands of God’s law. When we look at this list in Psalm 15 all we see is an impossible mountain to climb. And this is exactly what the purpose of the law of God is for. Romans 3:20 says, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
The purpose of Psalm 15 as it relates to our life is to show us that we cannot be in the presence of God now, or ever, based upon our own ability because we are sinners. We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners. This is the purpose of Psalm 15, to show us that we are incapable of being righteous before God.
Psalm 15 reminds me of another portion of Scripture, Matthew 19:16-26. Please turn with me to that section. It is page 980 in our Church Bible. Matthew 19:16-26 says, “And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
The Rich man has the same general question as David, what good deed must I do to have eternal life? Jesus gives the rich young man a list. The man says, done it. Jesus then puts his finger on the man’s idol, his wealth, and says lay it down. Give up your idol, your money. The Rich ruler couldn't do it. The man was not able to do what was required to have eternal life. He was not willing to lay down his life to follow Jesus. That happened 2000 years ago, and for the last 2000 years he has been weeping in Hell, and he has an eternity before Him. Then Jesus says in verse 24, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
How big is the eye of a needle? How big is a camel? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to come to the conclusion, that no one is ascending the Holy Hill of God on their own merits. Even the Galilean fisherman get this and say, “Who can be saved? And this is exactly where we find ourselves in Psalm 14 and 15, who can be saved? It seems hopeless. It seems impossible.
But is it? Is it impossible? Verse 26, “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” What does Jesus mean? Jesus definitively states that you cannot earn your way to heaven. Good works will not earn you heaven, baptism will not earn you heaven, being a Catholic or a Lutheran will not earn you heaven, praying will not earn you heaven, reading your Bible will not earn you heaven. Their is no hope within yourself. You must hope in God. Only God has the power to save. As it says in Psalm 3:8, “Salvation belongs to the LORD.” Salvation does not belong to you, it belongs to God.
God Makes the Impossible Possible
So how does God make the impossible possible? Does he just turn a blind eye to the sinfulness of man? Does he change his mind as to what is required? Does he change His rules? No, God is unchangeable. What he does is he sends his Son in the likeness of man into the World.
Jesus's name means “the Lord saves.” This is why Jesus came to earth, to save. To make the impossible possible. I love how the Apostle Paul states it in 1 Timothy 1:15, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
But how does Jesus save sinners? The way that is outlined in Psalm 15. Look back at our text. Jesus was blameless, did what was right, spoke the truth in his heart, did not slander, did no evil to anyone, did not hold a grudge, despised sin, and honored those who feared the Lord, fulfilled his promise to the point of death on a cross, gave money without interest, he was unbribeable. We do not have time this morning, but could go point by point and show exactly how Jesus fulfilled everyone one of these requirements in Psalm 15, and not only them, but all of God's law.
Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Jesus, as the Son of Man, the seed of Eve, the second Adam, did all that God required of him. Listen to what Jesus says to His Father in John 17:5, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” What work is he talking about? The work laid out in Psalm 15.
Hebrew 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” And because of the righteousness of Christ, he was able to ascend to the Holy Hill of God. And currently sits at his right hand.
But how does this help us? It helps us because Jesus did not live a sinless life for himself, for before becoming a man he already dwelt in perfect harmony with the Father. No, Jesus came and lived a righteous life on our behalf. Jesus came and accumulated a lifetime of walking blameless and now offers it to all those who will turn from trusting in themselves, and trust in him. The best summation of this truth is found in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” In Christ, we become righteous. This righteousness is not found within us, it is found within Christ.
Another word we use for this is grace. Grace is a gift, it is not something we earn. It is freely given. But what does this gift contain. First it contains the sacrifice of Christ, whereby he absorbed God's wrath for our sins. However, that is not all the gift contains, it also contains the righteousness of God. The grace of God contains the fulfillment of Psalm 15 by Jesus on your behalf.
Which leads to another question. How are we to receive this gift of God's righteousness? Romans 3:21, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”
The way, and the only way, to receive the righteousness that you need to experience the presence of God now and forever is through faith in Jesus Christ. We receive the righteousness of Christ, the grace of Christ, through faith alone. This is how God makes the impossible possible. Faith alone. Grace alone. Christ alone.